by Amber

U.S. Veggie Shortage

There’s a growing disorder in the United States. While it is true that we have an overabundance of food in this country — so much, in fact, that one third of it is thrown away. But the food available that is high in nutrients is lacking in diversity and supply. We do enjoy much more variety than was available 40 years ago, but the truth is a severe shortage of vegetables exists, one that is driven by farm subsidies and food manufacturers.

The USDA Economic Research Service recently announced that not enough farms grow things beyond grains, potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce to supply every American with what the dietary guidelines suggest each individual should be eating on a daily basis. They’ve found that potatoes and tomatoes make up more than 50% of vegetables available for human consumption in the U.S. Their data includes both imported and processed foods.

Potatoes in themselves do provide you with nutrients, but more are processed into high fat potato chips and French fries than available for healthier home food preparation from a raw, natural state. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but the total grown per person slated for fresh sales is largely picked green and gas ripened, leaving a good share of vine-ripened benefits off the plate. And then there’s the fact that more of them allotted per person annually are processed into pizza, ketchup, and pasta sauces than are available as fresh foods.


Correcting The Problem

It’s pretty unlikely that the food system sees this as an issue. They adore overly processed foods – it’s more profitable. The shelf life allows their products to stay fresh for far longer than the ‘best by’ date on the package. You could say that industry-processed foods are preserved within an inch of their life, which begs to question whether said things are really good for you. Case in point – in the past you could take canned fruit, drain it, add sugar, and ferment it on the counter. Known as brandied fruit, it was super popular in the 1940s-50s, and still being enjoyed during the 1970s. It’s impossible to make it today without adding alcohol. The fruit will just candy and then slowly disintegrate… no fermentation is possible, because of the preservatives in use today. That ain’t natural!

Obviously, this is just one more reason that everyone should be growing their own.  Leafy greens are relatively easy to grow year around in an indoor garden, and have lower energy requirements than fruiting plants. This translates to not need super powerful grow lights. Lettuces, and many kinds of young salad greens are ‘spring’ crops, allowing you to succeed at keeping them on hand with cooler burning high output T5 and LED grow lighting. And your nutrient-dense veggies will taste better too. They’re fresher and greener being zero-mile foods.

Source & Data: USDA ERS

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The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.