STUDY: FRUIT, VEGETABLE CONSUMPTION IS AFFORDABLE

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Achieving the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables can cost as little as 64 cents daily, a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service has found.or the most common fruits and vegetables in various forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, juice and dried, with the final sample consisting of 27 fruits in 69 different forms and 30

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Achieving the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables can cost as little as 64 cents daily, a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service has found.

or the most common fruits and vegetables in various forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, juice and dried, with the final sample consisting of 27 fruits in 69 different forms and 30 vegetables in 85 forms.

Lauding the report, officials at the Produce for Better Health Foundation here said the findings lay to rest the popular misconception that it's costly to eat the recommended number of servings of produce. Officials said they intend to use the consumer media and nutrition educators to get the affordability message out to consumers.

"The new report provides valuable information for communicating with consumers about how easy achieving 5 A Day can be," said Produce for Better Health Foundation President Elizabeth Pivonka. "The long-held consumer perception that it is too expensive to eat more fruits and vegetables has just been blown out of the water."

Fresh forms of fruits and vegetables were found to be least expensive, according to the report. The document -- titled "How Much Do Americans Pay for Fruits and Vegetables?" -- found that fresh fruit, on average, costs 18 cents per serving, juice 20 cents, canned 24 cents, dried 27 cents and frozen 51 cents. Fresh vegetables on average cost 12 cents per serving, canned 17 cents and frozen 22 cents.

The report also reached the following conclusions on average, per-serving costs:

37 of the 69 fruit items cost, on average, less than 25 cents per serving.

54 items were less than 50 cents.

More than half of the 85 vegetable items cost less than 25 cents per serving, on average.

Just three cost more than 75 cents.

The study examined 1999 data from ACNielsen on household food purchases from retail sources to estimate the cost to buy and per-serving cost of fruits and vegetables. The report's authors said the data should be comparable today.