Eating More Fruits and Vegetables: An $11 Trillion Stimulus?
Reading through a recently released Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report at first reveals the obvious: eating more fruits and vegetables is healthier for you. But the report, The $11 Trillion Dollar Reward, goes further in placing a dollar value on the benefits of a healthier society. The UCS study suggests a revamp of our nation's agriculture policy is in order to get more local fruits and vegetables on the table and less reaching out of a car window to grab another bagged fast food meal.
According to UCS, American's obsession with fast food and processed food comes at a high cost in wages and of course, health. The price of treating strokes and heart disease reached $94 billion in 2010, and that cost could triple by 2030. Financial savings are possible, too: if Americans just ate an additional serving of fruit or vegetables a day, cost savings would total $5 billion while 30,000 lives would be saved annually. And if citizens followed the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) nutritional guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption (which of course are not matched by this agency's policies), $17 billion in costs, and 127,000 lives, would be saved. With all benefits tallied up, the UCS suggests total savings in healthier lifestyles, and longer and more productive lives, totals to $11 trillion.
So what does UCS suggest happen in order to encourage the increased consumption of more fresh fruits and vegetables? First, UCS suggests the forehead-slapping recommendation that the production of fruits and vegetables increase across the country. No surprise here: it is common knowledge USDA policies favor the production of commodity crops that are now lucrative on global markets, including corn, soy, cotton, wheat, rice and oats.
What UCS pushes for is the end of antiquated policies that discourage farmers from growing fruits and vegetables. For example, farmers who grow crops such as corn and soy are not eligible for subsidies if they also grow fruits and vegetables on the same land. Removing those restrictions would be a step.
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Read The $11 Trillion Reward at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Fruits and vegetables image via Shutterstock.