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Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables

Salad Plates The Shelby Report Produce News

Organizations across the country quickly applauded the USDA’s efforts for a healthier America, especially in the produce arena since the new icon calls for half the plate to be filled with fruits and vegetables.

“The new MyPlate and accompanying messaging is a tipping point in how Americans literally visualize what they should eat,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh. “The breakthrough message to ‘make half your plate fruits and vegetables’ is simple, compelling and effective. It is a message that consumers can practice every day at every meal. The produce industry is firmly committed to working closely with USDA and others to support and promote MyPlate and the half a plate message as part of a lifetime of healthy eating.”

In addition to being a leading advocate for policy changes to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, United Fresh also has emphasized the need for clear, consumer education that can effectively change consumers’ dietary behavior.

Last year, United Fresh provided input to USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services on ways to implement the core messages in the new dietary guidelines that were released in January 2011. In that input, United recommended that USDA and HHS:

  • Provide clear, strong, compelling and actionable messages to consumers to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and other necessary dietary changes
  • Use “Half Your Plate Should Be Fruits and Vegetables” to illustrate how many fruits and vegetables children and adults need to eat at every meal
  • Commit to implementing policy and environmental changes that will create healthier food environments and systems-wide approaches.

“Today, the government has taken a very positive step in recognizing and emphasizing the importance of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables,” Stenzel said. “It is now the responsibility of the produce industry to promote MyPlate and the ‘make half your plate fruits and vegetables’ message at every opportunity, and continue providing the American people with a bounty of diverse, healthy, safe fruits and vegetables.”

The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) also expressed its support.

“This science-based government recommendation to make half your plate fruits and vegetables is a significant and positive step in the battle to fight obesity and related health issues in America. The plate icon is a simple, memorable way to show Americans the proportion of fruits and vegetables they should be eating at every meal occasion,” said Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, president and CEO of PBH. “Ever since the 2005 Dietary Guidelines increased the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables to consume daily—which was also the impetus to ‘rebrand’ 5 A Day to Fruits & Veggies-More Matters; making half your plate fruits and vegetables has been one of the supporting messages of our Fruits & Veggies-More Matters initiative since its 2007 launch.”

The website, www.FruitsandVeggiesMoreMatters.org, offers tips, recipes and meal planning advice geared toward meeting the goal of making half the plate fruits and vegetables easily achievable.

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and its members of varying sizes and geographic locations support all of the USDA MyPlate initiatives.

“PMA is extremely pleased to see the USDA move in this direction that not only benefits our industry, but more importantly helps consumers make better choices for a healthy lifestyle,” said Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of PMA. “Starting with our pioneering work on nutrition marketing and our subsequent creation of the Produce for Better Health Foundation 20 years ago, PMA has taken a leading role in efforts to boost produce consumption. We strongly support the dietary guidelines and the concept of an easily understood plate graphic. Our members and the American public applaud USDA.”

A 2011 USDA pricing study found that an adult on a 2,000-calorie diet could satisfy recommendations for vegetable and fruit consumption in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (amounts and variety) at an average price of $2 to $2.50 per day, or approximately 25 cents per edible half-cup equivalent.

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