Friday, September 24, 2010

Eat Your Damned Vegetables

According to the New York Times, Americans refuse to eat vegetables.
Despite two decades of public health initiatives, stricter government dietary guidelines, record growth of farmers’ markets and the ease of products like salad in a bag, Americans still aren’t eating enough vegetables.

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a comprehensive nationwide behavioral study of fruit and vegetable consumption. Only 26 percent of the nation’s adults eat vegetables three or more times a day, it concluded. (And no, that does not include French fries.)
It does, however, include "lettuce on a hamburger." But even with such rock-bottom standards, large swaths of our population simply refuse to eat anything leafy or green. And why?
Melissa MacBride, a busy Manhattan resident who works for a pharmaceuticals company, would eat more vegetables if they weren’t, in her words, “a pain.” “An apple you can just grab,” she said. “But what am I going to do, put a piece of kale in my purse?”
Another vegetable-hater -- a nurse, no less -- "openly acknowledges that vegetables make her gag." Yet another person -- someone in the food service industry -- says the prospect of preparing vegetables is off-putting. “Part of it is just that vegetables are a little intimidating. I’m not afraid of zucchinis, but I just don’t know how to cook them.”

Excuses, excuses. Preparing vegetables isn't any more difficult than preparing meat. Both grill and roast nicely. Blanched vegetables are easy to make, and taste a lot better than boiled meat. And here's a news flash: Lots of veggies can be eaten raw. (Ever heard of baby carrots? They come in a bag, you know. Some are even resealable.) Plus, vegetables are actually available in places other than high-end farmer's markets: McDonald's serves salads, and Wal-Mart has a huge produce selection (including organic fruits and vegetables). Also?You can, in fact, put a piece of kale in your purse.

Face it: Vegetables aren't any more a "pain" than having to give yourself insulin shots when you become diabetic after years of mainlining Snackwells and Cinnabons.

But frankly, I don't care what people eat. I'm just sick of people whining about how hard it is to find and eat vegetables. Call me cranky (which I am tonight), but people need to just own up to the fact that they're addicted to sitting in front of a computer and/or television screen, eating lab-engineered sugary-salty-fatty concoctions out of colorful cardboard boxes and crinkly, shiny bags.

(Photo: Corey Harmon)