Fruits and vegetables are supposed to make up a significant amount of our diets and yet they are one of the most expensive items at the grocery store, let alone going to the farmer’s market. This, among other issues, makes it difficult or impossible for many of the world’s population to meet basic nutrition guidelines. Recommendations are fine, but they really mean nothing if people can’t access the food items. In 2017, Canadians who lived in food secure homes were more likely to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables than those living in food insecure households (Statistics Canada, 2019). Fanzo et al (2021) reports that globally 38% of people can’t afford a healthy diet including sufficient fruits and vegetables. In addition to cost, access can also be an issue, as food stores in low income communities are more likely to be small convenience or dollar stores which are more likely to carry highly processed foods rather than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fanzo et al (2021) discusses the opportunities to change the global food system to move more people towards healthy diets. They recognize that requires a multi pronged approach, one element of which is what food we are producing. This leads to a common argument that globally we need to reduce the amount of land dedicated for raising animals for food and focus it onto producing food for humans. But there are other required actions as well. We also need to improve the food supply chain to reduce waste and improve transport, change attitudes regarding what food people desire, and improve local food production so that communities can feed themselves (Fanzo et al, 2021).
Every person should be able to meet their need for enough nutritious food. But to do this we need to rethink how we approach food. Should it be a commodity, available only to those with both the funds and access? Or should healthy food like fruits and vegetables be a right, accessible to all?