Publications

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  • How Low-Income Households Allocate Their Food Budget Relative to the Cost of the Thrifty Food Plan

    ERR-20, August 25, 2006

    Low-income households that participate in the Food Stamp Program can achieve a healthy diet if they use the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) as a guide for their food shopping. Most studies measuring the degree to which low-income households follow the TFP have compared total household food expenditures-for food at home as well as food away from home-to the TFP. The present study looked at total expenditures, but the emphasis is on how low-income households allocate their budget relative to the TFP for food at home. To determine whether some types of households are more likely than others to budget their food purchases in accordance with TFP benchmarks, and to identify households that might benefit most from nutrition education programs, the study compared actual and TFP expenditures for four household categories.

  • Fruit and Vegetable Backgrounder

    VGS-31301, April 17, 2006

    This report describes the economic characteristics of the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry, providing supply, demand, and policy background for an industry that accounts for nearly a third of U.S. crop cash receipts and a fifth of U.S. agricultural exports.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2005

    The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) collects information on how Americans spend a critical resource-their time. The Survey reports on time spent on work, household chores, child care, recreation, and numerous other activities. Starting in 2005-06, the Survey will include an ERS-developed module consisting of questions designed to examine time use; purchasing, preparing, and consuming food; and obesity.

  • U.S. Food Consumption Up 16 Percent Since 1970

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2005

    According to ERS's food consumption (per capita) data series, the amount of food available to eat increased 16 percent between 1970 and 2003, from 1,675 pounds per person to 1,950 pounds. This increase resulted in a corresponding jump in calories, from 2,234 calories per person per day in 1970 to 2,757 calories in 2003. Fats and oils, grains, vegetables, and sugars/sweeteners showed the largest increases.

  • Factors Affecting U.S. Beef Consumption

    LDPM-135-02, October 07, 2005

    Beef is a highly consumed meat in the United States, averaging 67 pounds per person per year. Findings based on the 1994-96 and 1998 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) indicate that most beef was eaten at home. Annual beef consumption per person was highest in the Midwest (73 pounds), followed by the South and West (65 pounds each), and the Northeast (63 pounds). Rural consumers ate more beef (75 pounds) than did urban and suburban consumers (66 and 63 pounds). Beef consumption also varies by race and ethnicity. Blacks ate 77 pounds of beef per person per year, followed by 69 pounds by Hispanics, 65 pounds by Whites, and 62 pounds by other races. Low-income consumers tend to eat more beef than consumers in other income households.

  • Food Dynamics and USDA's New Dietary Guidelines

    EIB-5, September 29, 2005

    Food Dynamics provides the most up-to-date information on consumer behavior and retail food market conditions.

  • Diet Quality Usually Varies by Income Status

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    Low-income groups tend to have lower quality diets than high-income groups. Higher income expands food choices and is related to factors that tend to improve diet quality, including higher education, better access to well-stocked grocery stores, and greater diet and health knowledge.

  • Commercialization of Food Consumption in Rural China

    ERR-8, July 20, 2005

    Over 60 percent of China's consumers live on farms. Consequently, a large share of the agricultural commodities produced in China is consumed on farms by the rural population. This study of rural food consumption patterns in China finds that rural households rely on self-produced commodities, especially grains and vegetables, for a large share of the food they consume. However, the study also finds that the reliance on self-produced food has fallen since the mid-1990s as rural households purchased an increasing share of their food.

  • Will 2005 Be the Year of the Whole Grain?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    The 2005 Dietary Guidelines encourage all Americans over age 2 to eat roughly half of their recommended 5 to 10 daily servings of grains, depending on calorie needs. The goal of this new recommendation is to improve Americans' health by raising awareness of whole grains and their role in nutritious diets. The Guidelines could also have big impacts on farmers and farm production.

  • Factors Affecting U.S. Pork Consumption

    LDPM-13001, May 12, 2005

    Pork ranks third in annual U.S. meat consumption, behind beef and chicken, averaging 51 pounds per person. The Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) indicates that most pork is consumed at home. Pork consumption is highest in the Midwest, followed by the South, the Northeast, and the West. Rural consumers eat more pork than urban/suburban consumers. Pork consumption varies by race and ethnicity. Higher income consumers tend to consume less pork. Everything else remaining constant, demographic data in the CSFII suggests future declines in per capita pork consumption as the share of Hispanics and the elderly in the population rises because those two groups eat less pork than the national average. However, total U.S. pork consumption will grow because of an expansion of the U.S. population.

  • Understanding Economic and Behavioral Influences on Fruit and Vegetable Choices

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    The new Federal recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans would require the typical American to eat almost twice the amount of fruits and vegetables he is now consuming and to choose a more varied mix of these healthy foods. With this in mind, nutritionists and produce marketers alike are interested in finding more effective strategies to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. This article provides information on the economic, social, and behavioral factors influencing consumers' fruit and vegetable choices.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Body Weight Status

    AIB-796-3, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several measures of body weight status for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the weight status of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Meal Patterns, Milk and Soft Drink Consumption, and Supplement Use

    AIB-796-4, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Clinic Measures of Iron, Folate, Vitamin B12, Cholesterol, Bone Density, and Lead Poisoning

    AIB-796-5, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. This summary focuses on the nutritional biochemistry blood tests and bone density measures that showed differences between income groups. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Healthy Eating Index

    AIB-796-1, February 14, 2005

    The Healthy Eating Index measures how well American diets conform to recommended healthy eating patterns, looking at 10 dietary components. The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined the Healthy Eating Index using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the dietary quality of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-Effects of WIC Participation on Children's Food Consumption

    FANRR-26-11, February 14, 2005

    This study compared consumption patterns of WIC children with those of three different comparison groups: eligible nonparticipating children living in non-WIC households, eligible nonparticipating children living in WIC households, and children living in households whose income is too high to be eligible for WIC. The study provides strong evidence that participation in the WIC program increases consumption of at least some types of WIC-approved foods.

  • Cheese Consumption Continues to Rise

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2005

    Average U.S. cheese consumption nearly tripled between 1970 and 2003, from 11 pounds per person to 31 pounds. Mozzarella, at 9.6 pounds consumed per person, is America’s favorite cheese, just ahead of Cheddar, at 9.4 pounds per person. Cream cheese, at 2.3 pounds consumed per person, is America’s third favorite cheese.

  • Supermarket Characteristics and Operating Costs in Low-Income Areas

    AER-839, December 15, 2004

    Whether the poor pay more for food than other income groups is an important question in food price policy research. Stores serving low-income shoppers differ in important ways from stores that receive less of their revenues from Food Stamp redemptions. Stores with more revenues from Food Stamps are generally smaller and older, and offer relatively fewer convenience services for shoppers. They also offer a different mix of products, with a relatively high portion of sales coming from meat and private-label products. Metro stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates lag behind other stores in the adoption of progressive supply chain and human resource practices. Finally, stores with the highest Food Stamp redemption rates have lower sales margins relative to other stores, but have significantly lower payroll costs as a percentage of sales. Overall, operating costs for stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates are not significantly different from those for stores with moderate Food Stamp redemption rates. If the poor do pay more, factors other than operating costs are likely to be the reason.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Volume I, Food Stamp Program Participants and Nonparticipants

    EFAN-04014-1, December 01, 2004

    Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III), conducted in 1988-94, were used to compare the nutrition and health characteristics of participants and nonparticipants in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). FSP participants were compared with two groups of nonparticipants-those who were income-eligible for the FSP (income at or below 130 percent of poverty) and those with higher incomes (income above 130 percent of poverty). This research was designed to establish a baseline from which to monitor the nutritional and health characteristics of FSP participants and nonparticipants over time.

  • Taxing Snacks to Reduce Obesity

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2004

    Some public health advocates and health researchers are proposing an excise tax on snack foods as a way to reduce the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. ERS researchers simulated the impacts of such a tax by using different measures of consumer responsiveness to prices and different tax rates. Relatively low tax rates of 1 percent or 1 cent per pound had negligible impacts on purchases of salty snack foods. For these cases, taxes would not appreciably alter diet quality or health outcomes, but tax revenues would be positive.