Here it is World Vegetarian Day, and the Daily News is celebrating in typically contrarian fashion, singing the praises of a sausage factory and explaining how to get your kids to eat things like pork, octopus, bear meat and lasagna - you know, the things kids really need to be eating and don't get enough of.
More seriously, all health authorities agree that what American kids, and adults as well, need to be eating more of is fresh fruits and vegetables. A new CDC report found our national average is under 10% of teens getting the recommended servings daily (we are meeting our daily recommendation for lasagna, however).According to this list, Pennsylvania is on the high end of the curve, topping 15% of teens adequately nourished.
This isn't all that surprising, as a report a few years back by the General Accounting Office found that the USDA spent less than 5 percent of its food-promotion budget on fruits and vegetables, despite these foods comprising 33 percent of the Food Guide Pyramid - which the GAO also suggested be updated "to better communicate the need for a variety of produce, especially deeply colored fruits and vegetables, to fight chronic diseases." Funding of meat and dairy promotion, meanwhile, was plentiful.
Today, though, saw a small step in a very positive direction for government nutrition programs, as the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, which provides food vouchers to those who need extra help getting good food, has been significantly revised for the first time since its inception in the 1970s. For too long a dumping ground for commodity foods the government's trying to get rid of (in order to keep prices stable), the WIC program will now for the first time fund fresh fruits and vegetables.