Every five years, USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services jointly release a new version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans with information and recommendations about how individuals can achieve a healthy diet. During 2019, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee—composed of nutritionists, physicians, and public health researchers—has been meeting to discuss new research and advances, which might be incorporated into the upcoming, next version of the guidelines.
The current 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people needing 2,000 calories per day include 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables in their daily diets.
USDA food consumption surveys find that the average American falls far short—consuming only 0.9 cups of fruit and 1.4 cups of vegetables per day. Individuals choose foods based on taste, convenience, cost, and other factors, in addition to Federal dietary recommendations. Cost, in particular, has been cited as a possible barrier to higher fruit and vegetable consumption, especially for low-income households.
To inform policymakers, nutritionists, and other researchers about how much money it costs Americans to eat a sufficient quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables, ERS researchers periodically report average costs per cup equivalent for a large set of commonly purchased fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. ERS updated these costs in 2018 using 2016 retail price data.