USDA: Avocado Consumption Has Skyrocketed In the 21st Century

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From Vox today:

A new analysis published in JAMA this week looked at US eating habits from 1999 to 2012 and found that…there was no change in total fruits and vegetables consumed. (When Americans do eat vegetables, fully half of them are tomatoes and potatoes — often in the form of sugar-laden ketchup and greasy fries.)

Wait. Potatoes are a vegetable? Wikipedia skirts the question entirely by calling them a “starchy, tuberous crop”—and pretty much everything that grows is a crop. Britain’s Department of Health dithers: “Potatoes are botanically classified as a vegetable, but they are classified nutritionally as a starchy food.” The USDA just flatly calls them vegetables. As the chart on the right shows, potatoes account for 30 percent of America’s consumption of “vegetables and legumes.” And they aren’t legumes, are they?

Fine. Technically they’re a vegetable. You learn something new every day. And I’m not just saying that. You really can learn something new every day from the USDA. Following the link to this little pie chart led me to ERS Charts of Note, a daily chart from the USDA’s Economic Research Service. And it’s great! Here are some recent charts:

  • Supermarket shrink varies by type of fresh fruit and vegetable
  • Most U.S. farm estates exempt from Federal estate tax in 2015
  • U.S. milk production continues to grow
  • India is the world’s leading importer of soybean oil
  • U.S. honey consumption per person has risen in recent years
  • U.S. stocks of natural cheese are at the highest levels since 1984
  • A growing number of school meals are served at no charge to students
  • Avocado imports grow to meet increasing U.S. demand

They’re not kidding about the avocado imports, either. In the past 15 years, per-capita avocado consumption has increased from two pounds per person to seven pounds per person. Virtually all of that increase has been supplied by imports from Mexico, which are probably super cheap thanks to NAFTA. If Donald Trump had his way, your typical guac-drenched fast-food burrito wouldn’t exist. What kind of a world would that be?

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