The key to eating more vegetables? Make it easier to buy them
I’m typing this post as I eat a bagel with cream cheese. There are no vegetables in sight, but of course I know I should be eating lots of them. What does Michael Pollan say about the ideal diet?
Not too much
So how can we get more of those plants into our diet? Researchers out of George Washington University say convenience, not price, is the key. Their article in Public Health Nutrition details the results of a study that surveyed nearly 500 people in six low income Chicago neighborhoods. This is what they found-
…more positive perceptions of the food shopping environment were associated with greater consumption of fruits and vegetables. There was an increase of approximately twofold in the likelihood of consuming three or more fruits and vegetables daily per level of satisfaction ascribed to the shopping environment. This association was independent of perceived cost, store type and sociodemographic characteristics.
Translation- the likelihood that people would eat three or more fruits or vegetables a day DOUBLED when they had a good feeling about the place where they bought that produce regardless of the type of store or how expensive it was. What gave them that “good feeling”? Quality, selection, and convenience.
So how do we translate those findings into eating more plants? This is what the researchers suggest-
Nutrition promotion campaigns that aim to alter the built environment by increasing access to fruits and vegetables should recognize that simply increasing availability may not yield beneficial change when characteristics of the shopping context are ignored.
Translation- don’t just focus on making vegetables affordable and available. Make it easy to buy them. How does that relate to my plant eating habits? If only it was as easy to pick up a bag of snap peas as it was to buy this bagel. Can we install farm stands at every coffee shop?
Read the abstract of the article here.