Gym memberships, aspirin, and even cough syrup. Just some of the eligible purchases with a flexible spending account. The benefit of one of these items is questionable, but one purchase that isn’t, is fresh foods, specifically vegetables, fruit, and herbs.
As the rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes continue to soar, research continues to stress the importance of vegetable and fruit intake to health and wellness. Vitamins, minerals, water, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein are just some of the essential ingredients that a plant-based diet offers. All essential ingredients to support basic body functions and optimize human performance.
So here is a novel idea: Incentivize fresh food purchases, the foundation of a plant-based diet that also supports local farmers, especially small ones that want to farm full-time. Let’s make fruit, and vegetables, eligible as an FSA expense. Preventing the growth of chronic, preventable, health diseases, is the ultimate public health goal. And incentivizing purchases of whole foods, supports farmers, farmers markets and the agricultural economy of many states.
How would this work? Making vegetables and fruit eligible for FSA purchases at the federal level may be cumbersome, especially now but at the state level discussions with local farmers and farmer market managers should be the first step to gauge interest and a develop a blueprint to take this idea from the farm to state capitols.
It’s time to support small businesses that directly impact individual and public health outcomes.