A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows how a small increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables we eat can lead to dramatic savings, both in lives and money. The report correlates the healthcare costs associated with treating the diseases which arise from our low level of fruit and vegetable consumption and the savings that can result by increasing our fruit and vegetable consumption, even at modest levels.
UCS estimates that if Americans ate just one more serving of fruits or vegetables daily, it would save more than 30,000 lives and $5 billion in medical costs each year. And if we brought our consumption in line with USDA dietary recommendations of five portions a day, we could save more than 127,000 lives and $17 billion in medical costs each year.
UCS says that the long term are even more dramatic: “According to methods commonly used by economists, the increased longevity that would result if Americans ate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is worth over $11 trillion.”
The report’s findings raise a crucial question: Now that we know eating more produce will save lives and dollars, what can Americans do?
Dr. Bob Lawrence, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Livable Future says that Meatless Monday can help.
“By eating less meat, starting with going meatless one day of the week as the Meatless Monday campaign urges, we could eat our way toward better health, a better environment, and a better use of cropland to produce less animal feed and more fruits and vegetables. And of course, the way to make room for those important fruits and veggies is to cut back or eliminate those burgers and dogs! Starting with Meatless Monday we can rely on that old principle of psychology—inch by inch it’s a cinch, yard by yard it’s real hard.”