Research Article| Volume 43, ISSUE 3, P173-179, May 2011

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Can Low-income Americans Afford to Satisfy MyPyramid Fruit and Vegetable Guidelines?



      To estimate the costs of satisfying MyPyramid fruit and vegetable guidelines, with a focus on whether low-income households can bear these costs.


      Descriptive analysis of the 2008 National Consumer Panel with information on the food purchases of 64,440 households across the contiguous United States was used to analyze the cost of fruits and vegetables. Costs per MyPyramid cup-equivalents were calculated by accounting for cooking yields and the portion of a food item’s retail weight that is inedible.

      Variables Measured

      Costs per cup-equivalent for less expensive fruits and vegetables by MyPyramid subgroup including whole and cut fruit, fruit juice, dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, other vegetables, and legumes.


      In 2008, a variety of fruits and vegetables was available for an average cost of $0.40 to $0.50 per cup-equivalent. MyPyramid fruit and vegetable recommendations could be satisfied at this cost level.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Low-income Americans facing national average food prices can satisfy MyPyramid fruit and vegetable guidelines with a budget equal to the Thrifty Food Plan allocation to fruits and vegetables. However, many low-income households spend too much money on food that is low in fruit and vegetable content. Some money should be reallocated to fruits and vegetables.

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