Healthful eating would help farmers

If Californians were to follow long-established recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables, it would benefit more than their health. The increased produce consumption would also provide a healthy boost to farmers' bottom line.

Depending on the dietary scenario, the estimated annual net nationwide benefits for fruit and vegetable farmers range from $460 million to $1.44 billion, according to a report published by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.

The study provided the first quantitative assessment of grower benefits of improved diets. It focused solely on the agricultural effects of several dietary scenarios for California consumers. Much larger impacts would result if all U.S. consumers, not just those in California, ate more fruits and vegetables.

The study estimates that the annual benefits for California growers from adoption of dietary recommendations by California consumers are $316 million for the 5-a-day scenario, $788 million for the 7-a-day scenario and $836 million for the 7-a-day cancer prevention scenario. These benefits are concentrated in the commodity groups of lettuce, processing tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and carrots.

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