Turning the curse of Starbursts into a blessing - The Packer

Turning the curse of Starbursts into a blessing

07/30/2013 12:22:00 PM
Tom Karst

Tom KarstThe idea that fruits and vegetables are “too pricey” is debunked again in a recent Center for Science in the Public Interest study.

 As I write this, however, our office candy jar is rapidly being emptied of Starburst fruit-flavored candy, most of all by me. Why not produce as a collective snack?

First, some perspective on the effect of “price” on demand for fruits and vegetable; from my coverage of the issue this week:

Calling the perception that fruits and vegetables are pricey compared with other foods an “urban myth,” a new study says fruits and vegetables are bargains compared with processed food options.

The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest evaluated 20 popular and snack and 19 side dish items, half of which were fruits and vegetables.

The report found that the average price per serving of the fruit or vegetable snacks was $0.34, while the unhealthy packaged snacks cost about twice as much, $0.67.

For example, a half-cup serving of apple cost $0.26 but one Fruit by the Foot roll cost $0.45.

“Very few Americans are actually eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables—and most of us would do well to consume fewer packaged convenience foods and snacks, which are often higher in calories, salt, and sugars.” Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a news release.

Government guidelines recommend that the average person eat two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables a day (for a 2,000 calorie diet). Wootan said consumers can accomplish that economically, with recent estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture putting the daily cost to consumers between $2 and $2.50 per day.

The report found that healthy vegetable side dishes cost $0.27 per serving, while less healthy packaged side dishes cost $0.31 per serving.

The study is more evidence to disprove the notion that eating healthy foods is unaffordable, said Kathy Means, vice president of government relations and public affairs for the Newark, Del-based Produce Marketing Association.

“PMA continues to battle that myth, armed with our own research, USDA’s findings, and this new information from CSPI,” she said in a Field to Fork blog post about the report.

The study also touted the low-calorie advantages of fruits and vegetables, noting that the calories per serving were 15 to 260 calories lower per serving than less healthy options.

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