A USDA food consumption survey found that US citizens are consuming only 0.9 cups of fruit and 1.4 cups of vegetables per day. This is well below the recommendation to include 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables in their daily diets. The main cause of this deficiency is thought to be cost, with low-income households particularly affected.
It was found that 8 out of 62 fresh and processed fruits cost less than 40 cents per cup in 2016, while another 21 fruits cost less than 80 cents per cup. The cheapest fruits per cup were fresh whole watermelon (20 cents) and processed apple juice (26 cents), while the most expensive were found to be fresh blackberries, fresh raspberries, and canned cherries.
Vegetables tended to be more affordable than fruits, with 77% of vegetables and only 47% of fruits costing less than 80 cents per cup. The cheapest fresh and processed vegetables were heads of Romaine lettuce, fresh whole carrots, canned green beans and dried pinto beans, which all cost less than 40 cents per cup in 2016 – in fact, dried pinto beans cost 17 cents per cup. The most expensive vegetable was found to be fresh asparagus, at $2.47 per cup, at $0.17 per cup equivalent.
The study found that 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables could be obtained in 2016 for about $2.10 to $2.60 as part of a 2,000-calorie diet.