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In response to an article in the August 2011 issue of Health Affairs that included a study finding that Americans will have to pay more to attain a more nutritious diet, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) cited its own research, which indicates that fruits and vegetables are available at reasonable cost.
PMA’s research, “The Cost of the Recommended Daily Servings of Fresh Produce,” looked specifically at the price of nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day (based on U.S. dietary guidance and health professionals’ advice), finding that both the average price ($2.18) and the bargain hunter’s price (88 cents) represented significant value for shoppers.
“Consumers buy food, not nutrients,” noted Kathy Means, VP of government relations and public affairs for Newark, Del.-based PMA. “Even the report noted that ‘many foods, notably vegetables and fruits, contain more than one of the recommended nutrients.’ So when you buy fruits and vegetables, you’re getting a tasty and nutritious bargain. Our research shows that consumers can get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables affordably.”
To help shoppers get even more for their money in the produce section, Means offered a five-point consumer checklist:
- Shop the Sales: Almost one-third of produce items are currently on sale at the grocery store
- Use Produce as a Meal Extender: Adding items to salads, soups and stews enables consumers to create tasty, nutritious meals that cut back on more-expensive items like meats
- Buy Only What’s Needed: While some items, such as apples, oranges, and potatoes, will last for a while at home, others, like berries or mushrooms, should be eaten within a few days
- Know Serving Sizes: A serving of fresh produce is one-half cup, or one cup for leafy greens, so a large banana or a grapefruit may be two servings, meaning that the price paid is for two, not one item
- Share: Larger packs at the store or warehouse clubs can be shared with friends or neighbors