The rock of Sisyphus the eternal challenge to eat enough fresh produce

The rock of Sisyphus the eternal challenge to eat enough fresh produce

There is not enough fruit and vegetable production to feed the world at recommended serving levels, and that scenario will get worse instead of better in the next 30 years.

In a report published in The Lancet Planetary Health called “Gaps between fruit and vegetable production, demand, and recommended consumption at global and national levels: an integrated modeling study”, the authors said that will only change “if interventions and investments that focus on increasing fruit and vegetable production, developing technologies and practices to reduce waste without increasing the consumer cost, and increasing existing efforts to educate consumers on healthy diets.”

Even if all that happens, it won’t be easy. The authors acknowledge that future fruit and vegetable availability will be affected by many factors, including economic development, population growth, changing consumer behavior, and climate change, among others.

The study said the research aimed to quantify the gap between future fruit and vegetable supply and recommended consumption levels by looking at supply and demand in more than 150 countries from 1961 to 2050.

From the study:

“By 2015, 81 countries representing 55% of the global population had average fruit and vegetable availability above WHO’s minimum target. Under more stringent age-specific recommendations, only 40 countries representing 36% of the global population had adequate availability.

Although economic growth will help to increase fruit and vegetable availability in the future, particularly in lower-income countries, this alone will be insufficient. Even under the most optimistic socioeconomic scenarios (excluding food waste), many countries fail to achieve sufficient fruit and vegetable availability to meet even the minimum recommended target.

Sub-Saharan Africa is a particular region of concern, with projections suggesting, by 2050, between 0.8 and 1.9 billion people could live in countries with average fruit and vegetable availability below 400 g/person per day. Food waste is a serious obstacle that could erode projected gains. Assuming 33% waste and socioeconomic trends similar to historical patterns, the global average availability in 2050 falls below age-specific recommendations, increasing the number of people living in countries with insufficient supply of fruits and vegetables by 1.5 billion compared with a zero-waste scenario.”

TK: The whole world is lacking in fruit and vegetable consumption, and some places fall short more than others. The study concludes that the global food system must move its focus from quantity towards dietary quality. Of course, that means, less sugar, saturated fat and red meat — and more fresh produce/plant-based foods.

But not enough is being done by governments to make it happen. Of the 764 policies in the World Cancer Research Fund International’s NOURISHING database, only 168 specifically target fruit and vegetable consumption.

What can the industry do make sure that U.S. government policies encourage behavior change that moves the rock up the hill?