When it comes to healthy food, the U.S. government talks a good game, but fails to put our money where its mouth is.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an updated version of its Dietary Guidelines for Americans—featuring a new graphic dubbed “MyPlate”—advising that a healthy diet should typically consist of about 50 percent fruits and vegetables.
Yet the average American eats far less of these healthy foods than the USDA recommends—and policy isn’t helping. Subsidies skewed toward commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans, help keep processed foods made from these crops cheap and plentiful. And research has linked a diet high in processed foods to our growing obesity crisis and to chronic metabolic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.
We know that eating more fruits and vegetables will save lives and money, and it’s time for the U.S.D.A. and Congress to make federal policy work for, not against, farmers who want to grow healthy food.