USDA Secretary: We Must ‘Create Appropriate Transition’ for What Americans Eat

Penny Starr | September 20, 2011 | 11:25am EDT
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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaking to the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 19, 2011. ( Photo/Penny Starr)

( - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of the National Restaurant Association on Monday that Americans need to “adjust” their tastes so that they like the kind of food the government believes they should eat—and “we have to make sure that what we do is create the appropriate transition.”

“You know, as we deal with this issue of reducing sodium and sugar, it sounds simple to do, but you all know better than I do, it’s not as simple as it sounds,” said Vilsack.

“It’s going to take time for people’s taste to adjust and they will adjust over time, but it will take some time,” he said. “So, we have to make sure that what we do is create the appropriate transition.

"At the end of the day, though, we've got to deal with this," said Vilsack.

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Vilsack’s remarks about Americans’ taste buds came in response to a question about the best way to deal with food waste.  He said the Agriculture Department has ongoing research projects to determine how to make nutritious food more appealing so that less of it is wasted.

Vilsack mentioned visiting a Colorado school that was serving children brownies made with black beans. “The kids didn’t even know they were eating a healthier snack,” Vilsack said.

The restaurant trade group is working with the USDA to promote the government’s revised dietary guidelines for Americans.

Restaurants that participate in the voluntary Kids LiveWell program commit to offering healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her signature issue, launching the administration’s “Let’s Move” program which is dedicated to “solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation.”

On its website, the “Let’s Move” program says that: “Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies.”

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