Mr. Southern and I are watching C-SPAN for the coverage on the Health Care bills- one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) political topics in the United States right now. While I'm not about to jump into the middle of the debate with my lovely readers, I wanted to share a fascinating program I discovered last Fall at one of my Produce conventions (attended for work).
Image via Daily Dose of Imagery
The program? Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). In short, the program uses funding to disseminate research results from the Department of Agriculture and to help low-income families and individuals learn how to purchase and prepare healthy dishes. EFNEP is available in all 50 states and 6 US territories.
via Boggy Creek Farm
What I find amazing is the great cost:benefit ratio this program has, when looking at the cost of the program versus and the benefit of reduced health care costs. In California, for example, $1 invested in nutrition education yielded between $3.67 and $8.34 in health care savings (research by Amy Block Joy, George Goldman, and Vijay Pradhan). See Research Studies of the EFNEP.
95% of adults reached through the program reported improved diet, including the equivalent of one additional cup of fruits and vegetables. To learn more about the program, visit here.
While there were significant improvements in the consumption of fruits and veggies, most adults in the study remained below recommended levels. I would bet that many of our fruit and veggie intakes are below the recommended levels... and I'd also guess that it is not due to lack of access or economic hardship.
Honestly, I have to stop and say, what the hell am I doing!? Yes, I'm still going to enjoy a few bad-for-me things (for example, I LOVE the improved chocolate:peanut butter ratio in the Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs--> less chocolate, more peanut butter). But I must do a better job of planning out meails to ensure that I enjoy more fresh produce. Because it's yummy and good for me! (Remember, in the study mentioned above, $1 spent in eductation about food yielded a roughly $4-$8 reduction in health care costs. I know what I need to eat.... what would happen if I actually did it all the time!?)
And because I care about y'all, I'd like to encourage you to up the number of fresh fruits and veggies you eat as well. Not because I'm so good at it, or on a soap box... just because it's good for you!
Have a great start to the week!