Best, Worst States for Eating Vegetables

Best, Worst States for Eating Vegetables

Food & Drink

Best, Worst States for Eating Vegetables


With so much focus on the childhood obesity issue lately we may be overlooking the fact that adults aren’t setting a very good example for their kids—especially when it comes to eating vegetables.

The Center for Disease Control analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which estimated that only 26.3% of adults nationwide consumed vegetables three or more times per day last year. 

Here are the “Top 10 States Whose Adults Hate Their Veggies.”

Percentage of adults who eat vegetables three or more times a day:

1.       South Dakota – 19.6%

2.       Louisiana – 21.3%

3.       Mississippi – 21.6%

4.       Iowa – 21.9%

5.       West Virginia – 22.1%

6.       South Carolina – 22.9%

7.       Missouri – 23.0%

8.       Wisconsin – 23.2%

9.       Illinois – 23.3%

10.    Oklahoma – 23.5%

You might think states known for fitness such as California and Colorado are the top veggie eaters, right? Nope, actually Tennessee came out on top at 33%. But that still means two of three adults in that state are eating fewer than three servings of vegetables.

Makeover Moms Leading the Charge

“Suffice it to say, we all need to eat more vegetables,” says Janice Bissex, a registered dietitian with a Master’s degree in Food & Nutrition. Bissex is co-author along with fellow dietitian Liz Weiss of two cookbooks, including their latest, “No Whine with Dinner,” and the “Mom’s Guide to Meal Makeovers.”

(Photo: Makeover Meal Moms Janice Bissex, left, and Liz Weiss)

The pair of Meal Makeover Moms has now teamed up with Birds Eye Foods to help combat the massive deficiency in America’s vegetable consumption. Bissex says she and Weiss were attracted to the frozen vegetable company by its Feed Kids Better campaign. “Liz and I realized we had similar goals,” Bissex says. “We want everyone to eat more vegetables. Kids and adults.”

We asked why she thought people weren’t eating enough vegetables. “I think it could be the economy. People perceive vegetables to be expensive,” she says, “but they’re not. Actually frozen vegetables are one of the best values in the supermarket.”

One excuse people use, Bissex says, is that they buy fresh produce and it ends up going to waste because they don’t use it up quickly enough. Keeping frozen veggies on hand helps avoid this problem. “They won’t go bad,” she says. “People don’t like to waste money. None of us do. It drives me crazy!” Bissex points out that frozen vegetables are every bit as nutritious as fresh—often more so. “I live in Boston, so the fresh produce in my local supermarket was probably grown in California and trucked across the country before it makes it to the shelves. Frozen vegetables are picked fresh in the field and immediately frozen at their peak of freshness and nutrition.”

Bissex says one of the best ways to make vegetables more palatable to both adults and kids is to take a nutritious food like spinach and “do something with it.” Get creative. Prepare it in different ways. “One of my favorite convenience foods is frozen chopped spinach,” she says. “Now a plate of steamed spinach by itself may not be that appealing. But we came up with a recipe in our cookbook that’s become one of my favorites called Cheesy Spinach Bake. It’s kind of like a quiche…it’s got Parmesan and Cheddar cheese and it’s really good.” Bissex mentions stir fry dishes loaded with vegetables such as snow peas as another great way to get your servings of veggies.

Another of her favorite recipes is a Winter Squash Risotto (see recipe below). “I can’t imagine anyone not loving this dish,” Bissex says. Another favorite from the cookbook is Over the Rainbow Brown Rice (photo, above), which features carrots, corn, and petite peas.

“We used to have a joke in our family that nobody likes Brussels sprouts except Uncle Carl. Then I started experimenting with them and now we have a recipe that you add some onion and bacon—just a little bit of bacon, a couple slices—and then drizzle maple syrup over it. And everyone in the family really likes it.”

We asked Bissex if she’s working on a new cookbook. She gave us an emphatic no. “We just finished the last one a month ago, are you kidding?” laughs Bissex. “We spent three years working on it. My mother and husband would kill me. We’ve just got to promote this one and figure out how to sell it.”

Looks like Ms. Bissex has a couple of New Year’s resolutions to work on. Sell those cookbooks and get the rest of us to eat our vegetables.

Top 10 States for Adult Vegetable Consumption (Love Their Veggies, kind of)

Percentage of adults who eat vegetables three or more times per day:

1.       Tennessee – 33.0%

2.       Washington, D.C. – 32.3%

3.       Maine – 30.6%

4.       Oregon – 30.5%

5.       New Hampshire – 30.4%

6.       Vermont – 30.3%

7.       Virginia – 30.3%

8.       Georgia – 29.5%

9.       Kentucky – 29.4%

10.    Maryland – 28.7%

Winter Squash Risotto


  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dry arborio rice
  • 4 slices ready to serve bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 3 1/2 cups hot chicken broth
  • 1 box Birds Eye® Cooked Winter Squash (12 oz), thawed
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Heat oil in heavy saucepan over MEDIUM heat
  2. Add onion and cook until translucent
  3. Add rice, bacon, and sage, stir to coat with oil
  4. Ladle 1/2 cup hot broth into the rice; cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed
  5. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition absorb before adding the next
  6. When there is 1 cup broth remaining, stir in squash. Continue cooking, adding additional broth as needed until rice is creamy yet firm
  7. Stir in butter and cheese
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper



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