Home > Medical/Health Commentary > Much ado about vegetables

Much ado about vegetables

Good nutrition, I’m told, is an important part of maintaining good health, staving off chronic disease, and feeling better.  Pundits, policy wonks, and the professoriate never tire of telling us this, especially at medical schools.  One of the ways in which we as North Americans are to eat better is to increase our consumption of vegetables.

Increasing consumption of produce, especially among poorer demographics who are less able to bear the increased cost of fruit and vegetables relative to less healthy options, is a goal around which there is much government activity, from food stamp subsidies, to state-supported farmers’ markets, to Michelle Obama’s efforts to reduce childhood obesity.

Imagine my surprise, then, to learn that alongside its non-trivial efforts to get Americans (including poorer Americans) to eat more vegetables, the federal government subjects imported vegetables to a 20% tariff.

One hand encourageth healthy eating, whilst the other taxeth the living daylights out of it.  Though I must say, this seems like a perfect way to make a dent in some of my classmates’ protectionist tendencies.

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Of course, you can make vegetables as cheap as you like, but uptake will be limited unless people like eating them, and don’t have to spend inordinate amounts of time preparing them.  And on these criteria, certain elements of the healthy eating movement may have undermined their own cause by focusing on fresh produces and farmers’ markets to the exclusion of another, more convenient option:  frozen vegetables.  Megan McArdle explains.

And what post about vegetables would be complete without the shocking true story behind Canada’s most successful fake advertising campaign… for broccoli.  Having seen those ads, I can only admire their pure marketing genius.

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