Fresh produce at the State Farmers' Market in Raleigh. Proposed food safety rules might adversely affect farmers selling more than $500,000 worth of produce each year.
Fresh produce at the State Farmers' Market in Raleigh. Proposed food safety rules might adversely affect farmers selling more than $500,000 worth of produce each year. Photo courtesy Kel and Val, flickr creative commons.

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By Rose Hoban

New data from federal public health authorities show that only about one 10 people in North Carolina eat a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables.

Surveys done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2007 and 2010 show that, on average, North Carolinians ate only one serving of fruit and 1.7 servings of vegetables every day.

The corner store at North Roxboro and Geer streets in Old North Durham has embraced selling healthy food alongside beer and lottery tickets. If HB 250 passes the Senate, more corner stores around the state would have the opportunity to do the same. Nutrition experts recommend that people eat a total of about five servings of fruits and vegetables combined each day. The CDC recommends adults who do less than 30 minutes of moderate activity daily should eat between 1.5–2 cups of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables. Photo credit: Rose Hoban

 

The surveys also show that only about 10 percent of people in North Carolina ate the recommended amounts of fruits, and about 7 percent ate the recommended about of vegetables.

Tar Heels’ intake of fruits and vegetables means North Carolina is stuck in the bottom quarter of states when it comes to eating healthy foods. The state with the highest intake of fruits and vegetables was California, where people ate, on average, more than three and a half cups of fresh produce daily.

The information came from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual survey that asks people about their habits, from smoking and drinking to exercise and nutrition.

CDC nutritionists concluded in their report that new efforts are needed to encourage consumer demand for fruits and vegetables “through competitive pricing, placement, and promotion in child care, schools, grocery stores, communities, and worksites.”

A bill making its way through the General Assembly would do just that: HB 250 provides $1 million for hundreds of small corner stores around the state to buy low-cost equipment to stock fresh fruits and vegetables. The funds would be targeted to areas designated as “food deserts,” which are areas designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and has been funded in the House budget. But since being sent to the Senate in June, legislators in that chamber have taken no action on the measure.

The Senate also eliminated the state’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch of the Division of Public Health, a move that some public health experts worry will impede the state’s progress in getting people to adopt healthier lifestyles.

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