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Hungry for Healthier Eating Habits? Feast on These Ag Statistics

Posted by Terry Matlock, National Agricultural Statistics Service Public Affairs Specialist in Research and Science
Mar 17, 2021
Five food groups within states graphic
The states that produce some of the most nutritious and most consumed commodities within each of the five food groups.

Many people want to cultivate healthier eating habits and March, National Nutrition Month, may be a great time to start.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s MyPlate website is a resource available to help get on (or back on) the nutrition track. MyPlate itself is divided into five major food groups – vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. But do you ever wonder where your food comes from, and how much our hardworking farmers and ranchers produce in a year?

Here are facts about some of America’s favorite, nutritious foods:

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), the tomato is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in the country. In 2020, U.S. farmers produced 24.1 billion pounds of tomatoes with California producing more than 97%.

Apples are also a big hit in the U.S.. In 2019, our growers produced nearly 11 billion pounds, nearly 69% of which came from Washington state. The average yield from each of Washington’s 172,000 total apple bearing acres was 44,200 pounds! For 2020 data, check out the Non-Citrus Fruits & Nuts Annual Report.

Wheat, a health-promoting grain found in many foods, is one of our largest field crops. In 2020, U.S. farmers produced 1.8 billion bushels of it, with North Dakota producing more than 17% of the total.

For animal protein, according to ERS, chicken still tops the list in American diets. In 2019, 58.3 billion pounds of chicken were produced in the U.S., more than 14% or 8.3 billion pounds in the top producing state of Georgia. New data will be available on April 29 in the Poultry Production and Value Report.

Finally, there is dairy. Versatile and packed with important nutrients, fluid beverage milk is one of the most consumed dairy products in the country. Americans consumed more than 46.4 billion pounds, or 5.4 billion gallons, of it last year alone. At the farm level (milk produced and used in all dairy products), U.S. farmers produced a whopping 223.2 billion pounds in 2020; California was the No. 1 milk producer with 41.3 billion pounds.

For more U.S. agriculture statistics, visit www.nass.usda.gov. For dietary tips or information on food access assistance programs, please visit www.fns.usda.gov.

Category/Topic: Research and Science

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