February 19, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jennifer Whittaker, (478) 474-0679, ext. 5334
FARM BUREAU FOOD CHECK-OUT WEEK FOCUSES ON NUTRITION
MACON, Ga. – As the economic crisis continues, Americans continue to closely watch their budgets, including what they spend on groceries. Farm Bureau is helping consumers become more aware of how to stretch their grocery dollars during Food Check-Out Week, Feb. 21-27.
The good news is that according to a recent study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the cost of eating healthy hasn’t changed as much as the cost of less-healthy alternatives. A March 2008 USDA report shows that prices for unprepared, readily available fresh fruits and vegetables have remained stable relative to dessert and snack foods, such as chips, ice cream and cola.
“Every penny counts these days so it’s important that we spend our money wisely when we shop,” Georgia Farm Bureau Women’s Committee Chairman Cathy Barber said. “To get the most nutritious food with less money, dieticians recommend setting a food budget, planning balanced meals, making a list and shopping at competitively priced grocery stores.”
A healthy diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs and nuts within daily calorie needs. Anyone interested in learning more about making healthy food choices should visit www.mypyramid.gov to consult the USDA food guidance system. The USDA nutrition program provides a personalized approach to healthy eating and physical activity. You can enter your age, gender and activity level to develop a personalized food plan that will indicate the daily amounts of each food group you should consume at an appropriate calorie level.
Based on a 2,000-calorie diet for adults and a 1,800-calorie diet for kids, the USDA recommends that adults and children eat six ounces of grains (cereals, breads, crackers, popcorn, rice or pasta) every day. One ounce is about one slice of bread, one cup of cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta. Whole grains should make up at least half of your grain consumption. Look for the words whole grains in the ingredient list.
The USDA recommends adults and children eat 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day, especially dark-green veggies like broccoli and spinach. Orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes are also recommended. Adults should eat two cups of fruit a day, and kids should eat 1 1/2 cups a day. Fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits can help you meet this goal. The USDA advises eating fruit instead of drinking fruit juices. Be sure that the juices you do drink are 100% juice. Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and costs less, and buy frozen fruits and vegetables when they’re not in season to stretch your grocery dollars.
Because calcium is an important nutrient for adults and children, the USDA recommends that both consume three cups of dairy products a day. The USDA says two cups a day is enough for kids age two to eight. Select low fat or fat-free milk products. If you are lactose intolerant, choose lactose-free products or other foods rich in calcium such as canned salmon or leafy greens. Many non-dairy foods, such as cereals and orange juice, are fortified with calcium.
The USDA recommends that adults eat 5 1/2 ounces of meat a day and that kids eat five. Lean cuts of meat and poultry make excellent sources of protein as do fish and nuts. Low-fat beef is an excellent source of essential nutrients such as iron and B-vitamins. Peanuts and pecans are also excellent sources of protein that provide antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Now in its 12th year, Food Check-Out Week also highlights America’s safe, abundant and affordable food supply, made possible by America’s farmers. According to the most recent information from the USDA’s Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food. In comparison, French consumers spend 14 percent; Chinese consumers spend 35 percent and Indonesian consumers spend 46 percent.
“Farmers are consumers, too, and we are feeling the impact of the economic crisis through higher fuel and input costs, “ said GFB President Zippy Duvall. “Although you may be seeing higher retail prices for your food, please remember that on average, farmers only receive 19 cents out of every dollar spent on food. The rest of the food cost covers wages and materials for food processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. Recent food price increases are due primarily to higher energy costs associated with processing, hauling and refrigerating food products.”
To celebrate the safe and abundant food supply Georgia farmers produce, the Georgia Farm Bureau Women’s Committee is encouraging each county Farm Bureau to collect donations to assist families needing food assistance at the county level and for the Ronald McDonald House in Augusta. During February, county Farm Bureau Women’s Committees across Georgia have been collecting money or staple food items to make food donations. Half of the donations collected by the county committees will stay in the county for local food assistance programs while the other half will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Augusta by the GFB Women’s Committee on behalf of county Farm Bureau Women’s Committees across the state.
The Ronald McDonald House provides a home-away-from-home for the families of seriously ill children receiving medical treatment. Food is a primary need at each of these houses.
Each year the GFB Women’s Committee rotates the state focus to a different Ronald McDonald House. In the previous four years the committee made donations to the Ronald McDonald Houses of Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah and Macon.
Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau has county chapters in 158 of Georgia’s counties. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia.