ANGELES ó Whether you clear your cabinets out for every
new diet that promises health and beauty, just grab the
bacon-topped cheeseburger or live somewhere in the middle,
you must ó you just must ó know by now that we should
all eat more vegetables and fruit. So what will make you
actually do it?
nowhere near time for a victory dance, but experts see a
little movement in the right direction, citing the growth of
farmers markets, more vegetarian restaurant options and
campaigns to encourage produce consumption.
are some signs here and there that the diet is
improving," said Kelly Brownell, an obesity expert and
the dean of Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke
University. But "the change is too slow to make a big
public health difference."
plodding pace of change is to be expected, said Gene Baur,
co-founder of Farm Sanctuary and an animal welfare advocate.
Shifting the food industry and our habits is like turning a
mammoth aircraft carrier, he said.
pretty easy to get through the day without eating anywhere
near the amount of produce the federal government recommends
ó and most Americans are in the deficient category. Cold
cereal and milk for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwich with
tortilla chips for lunch and, for dinner, a piece of
chicken, potatoes and a salad, maybe a piece of fruit for a
maybe three servings of produce, and experts say five is
barely enough. The federal government has recommended that
half your dinner plate be produce.
David Katz, the founding director of Yaleís Prevention
Research Center, is optimistic about the future, despite his
assessment of the present: "We have accomplished almost
nothing with fruit and vegetable intake."
growth in farmers markets, there are more than 200 in
Southern California alone, and thereís also rise in
restaurant and supermarket choices. Nielsen consumer
research shows fruit and vegetable sales increased by volume
and in dollars for each of the last four years.
you go there are vegetarian options. Five or 10 years ago,
that was not the case," said Jack Bishop, editorial
director for Americaís Test Kitchen, which produces a
public television cooking show that has an affiliated
magazine and recently issued a vegetarian cookbook.
"Vegetarian cooking seems a lot more appealing if you
are not buying vegetables from 3,000 miles away," he
statistics showing that nearly 10% of Americans are
vegetarians havenít changed much, the Meatless Mondays
program has grown; itís been adopted in hundreds of
schools, including the L.A. school district, and dozens of
Partnership for a Healthier America, which worked with First
Lady Michelle Obamaís Letís Move initiative, has
organized a campaign centered on produce called FNV (for
fruits-n-vegetables) and has signed up spokespeople
including actress Kristen Bell and the NFLís Cam Newton to
participate in TV and social media efforts. The campaign
started recently in Fresno, Calif., and Hampton Roads, Va.,
with plans to expand, said Lawrence Soler, chief executive
of the partnership.
then thereís Omaha Steaks. The century-old company
recently began selling cartons of fresh produce from the
Chefís Garden. For years now, you could buy twice-baked
potatoes or creamed spinach with your meat, but this is a
whole new game. "Veggies have always had a place next
to the steaks we sell," Todd Simon, senior vice
president, said by telephone. But now, he said, "weíre
blazing a bit of a new trail" by putting produce and
beef on the same level.
such as one published recently in an American Medical Assn.
journal saying that a vegetarian diet may help lower blood
pressure also argue for diets heavy with plants. Nearly a
third of American adults have high blood pressure.
from Yale surveyed the scientific literature and reported
last year in the journal Annual Reviews that a diet thatís
predominantly plants is "decisively associated with
health promotion and disease prevention." Other
research, published in 2013 in the Journal of the American
Medical Assn., found no measurable difference between a
vegetarian diet and a Mediterranean one, which includes meat
and fish, though in lower amounts than the conventional
who may have differing perspectives ó from vegan to Paleo
ó can rally around a diet thatís mostly unprocessed
whole foods, mostly from plants, Katz said. But thereís so
much confusion from the hundreds of diet books, research
reports and sources of information. It doesnít have to be
that way, he said, if the experts talked more about what
they all agree on: "We all eat a lot more like one
another than we eat like the average American diet," he
help reduce confusion and "the unending fractious
discord" about just what people should eat for the most
healthful outcome, Katz has rallied more than 150 experts
from 16 countries, including many top names in their fields
(Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at
Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Deepak Chopra; former
White House chef Sam Kass, Dr. Mark Hyman, "Detox
Diet" author; and Dr. Andrew Weil, integrative medicine
advocate, among them) to sign onto a project called GLiMMER
(Global Lifestyle Medicine Mobilizing to Effect Reform) that
plans to educate people on that consensus on diet, smoking
and exercise. If the advice is followed, Katz said, up to
80% of chronic disease could be eliminated.
like to put an end to the era of the fad diet in
America," Katz said. And the food industry will respond
to consumer demand, just has it did when it created low-carb
pasta or Snackwells cookies or diet soda, he said.