A couple recent pieces in the New York Times have people talking about why we don’t eat our vegetables, despite reams of evidence about how good they are for us. One of my favorite bloggers, Crunchy Domestic Goddess blogged her thoughts here: http://crunchydomesticgoddess.com/2010/10/19/americans-still-arent-eating-their-veggies/ and the original articles are Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries and Even Benefits Don’t Tempt Us to Vegetables.
Now there are all sorts of “push” solutions involving more education and more convenience to vegetables – to the point of literally putting them in convenience machines, but I’m not sure that in the storied past when everyone did eat their vegetables that it was simply a matter of being more educated about vegetables and that vegetables were more convenient in the past. What could be more convenient than all the pre-packaged solutions we have now? How could we have known more about the health benefits in the past and just forgotten what we knew and ignored the newer information as more and more reasons to eat enough vegetables are found? Can we find some “pull” solutions where we actually are intrinsically motivated to eat our vegetables and don’t just do it because we manage to muster the willpower to make ourselves do it?
What are the root causes, then, if not ignorance and some inherent inconvenience of vegetables? My theories? We are lacking:
#1 Economics have a strong sway over us – our food budget would tilt more towards vegetables if they weren’t competing with heavily subsidized commodity products like corn and wheat and all the processed foods made therefrom.
#2 Growing our own vegetables can be cheaper than buying from a store, but here’s an area where a little education can help, and access to materials… and time!
#1 Organic, local, homegrown, healthy soils, etc, etc. make for healthier, tastier vegetables – it’s no surprise people are not rushing to eat lettuce shipped from 3000 miles away
#2 And here’s what really inspired me to write my thoughts down on the vegetable conundrum - I blame the low-fat diets of the last 30 years for reducing vegetables to something boring and bland. Sure you can try to spice them up, but you can tire of that, too. What’s really satisfies and appeals to your tastebuds again and again is fat – a nice pat of butter on top of your beans, bacon with your brussel sprouts, root vegetables tossed in olive oil and roasted. There’s a yummy video over on the 180 Degree Health blog about butter-poached carrots that I’m dying to try!
More Time in our Lives
Oh, this would solve so many of our problems in this culture! Why do we have higher productivity than other nations and less satisfaction with life? Why despite our advanced health care facilities do we struggle with lifestyle diseases? With some more time to call our own, we will have the energy to tend and harvest a garden, to spend those 90 minutes butter-poaching carrots, to chop fresh veggies for a salad, to go for a walk after dinner with the family… Why is our response to the lack of time in American lives to sell pre-peeled and pre-cubed butternut squash, and baby carrots, and pre-washed greens? These things need industrial processing, and centralized production, so we get corporate food from somewhere else in the country, wrapped in a bunch of extra packaging that may be impossible to recycle, and this is a convenience? And tastes good??