The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created the MyPlate Fruits and Veggies Video Challenge to show that it doesn’t take a lot of extra money to add fruits and vegetables to your diet.


The USDA is asking the public to create “inspiring and instructive” 30-second videos with “a healthy tip that has worked for you and that you think can work for other people.” The videos can be in one of three categories:

  • Tips for kids
  • Tips for eating at home
  • Tips for eating away from home

They are offering a total of $9,000 in cash prizes for the winners. Judging will be done by the USDA for first and second prizes in each category, and the public will chose a popular choice winner in each category.


I find this challenge interesting. Here’s why: while the USDA has created the MyPlate icon indicating that “half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables” (that fact must be pointed out in all eligible videos), when you compare MyPlate to farm subsidies, it’s clear that the USDA isn’t putting its money into fruits and vegetables. Less than 1 percent of the foods subsidized by the USDA are fruits and vegetables.


This often leads to fresh fruits and vegetables being far more expensive than processed foods. The USDA has yet to change the allocation of food subsidies, yet they advise the public to make fruits and vegetables the biggest portion of their diets.


Knowing that fruits and vegetables can be expensive, they’re now turning to the public to figure out how to deal with that issue. They’re offering small cash prizes to the public to do this. The top prize in each of the three categories is $1,500. The USDA reserves the right to use the submitted videos in any way it wishes.


They could be creating an entire “fruits and vegetables don’t have to be budget-breakers” campaign with a website and a total of $9,000 in prizes. So not only is the USDA not putting the subsidy money into fruits and vegetables, they’re not putting much money into educating the public about how to add these foods to their diets every day in an affordable way.


Maybe the USDA doesn’t know how most of America can realistically do it, and they’re looking for us to figure it out. What do you think?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

The MyPlate Fruits and Veggies Video Challenge
The USDA is asking for videos that demonstrate how to add fruits and vegetables to your diet without breaking the bank. (Maybe they're trying to get the public