Health Food Is Not Costlier Than Junk Food!
For years, people have refrained from purchasing health food because they believe it costs more than the junk food. This despite the fact that healthy food is important to promote a healthy lifestyle! Well, a report says that buying health foods is, in fact, cheaper than purchasing all the junk food in the world. Surprised? Read on to know more about it:
1) USDA Says
A study conducted at the behest of the “US Department of Agriculture (USDA)” concludes that eating healthy is not expensive. In fact, the study says that if you buy fruits and vegetables, you spend less money than you would in buying foods high in sugar, salt, and fat. Well, there goes the argument that eating junk food is cheaper than eating a nutritious meal. The study compares healthy food items such as carrots, onions, pinto beans, mashed potatoes, bananas, lettuce, etc with junk foods like chocolates, ice cream, French fries, chicken patties, and soft drinks to conclude that eating healthy food is less expensive per portion than eating fast food.
2) The Study Report
The USDA study report is co-authored by Andrea Carlson, an economist and her colleague Elizabeth Frazão. Together, the authors analyzed the national prices of about 4,000 food items and then put them in the ranks based on calories, weights, and portion sizes. They found:
- Whether you buy them in measure of portion, weight, or calories, food items like grains, remain the cheapest foods.
- Proteins come in both expensive as well as cheap categories. Expensive proteins were meat, chicken, and fish while beans, and eggs come under the low-cost proteins category.
- Contrary to popular believe, fruits and vegetables cost much less than unhealthy foods.
The study clarifies, “Cheap food that provides few nutrients may actually be ‘expensive’ for the consumer from a nutritional economy perspective, whereas food with a higher retail price that provides large amounts of nutrients may actually be quite cheap. The study also says, “Foods consumed in large amounts tend to have a high price per average size portion. This explains why cola-type soft drinks become considerably more expensive than milk when measured using the price per average size portion. Average reported consumption (per drinking occasion) of soft drinks is twice as large (approximately 2 cups) as average reported consumption of mil (approximately 1 cup).”
3) Author Speaks
Explaining the contrary beliefs in this regard, Carlson said that the earlier studies were conducted based on price per calories, which, obviously, pointed out that healthy foods were expensive. She said, “Using price per calorie doesn’t tell you how much food you’re going to get or how full you are going to feel.” This is because the junk foods have almost no calories in them, which is why these are sometimes also called empty calorie foods. Regarding that as a unfair measure, Carlson says, “Like every food group, there are cheap veggies and fruits, and pricey ones. Cheap unhealthy foods and more expensive ones.” She also said, “We have all heard that eating a healthy diet is expensive, and people have used that as an excuse for not eating a healthy diet, ... but healthy foods do not necessarily cost more.”
4) The Support
The USDA report has found many takers in the country, especially from among dietitians, who have to face this argument the most that buying healthy foods is expensive. That is why they have come out in support. Cynthia Sass, a New York City-based dietitian, says, “…And many of the healthiest superfoods in the market are inexpensive, such as beans and brown rice.” She is of the opinion that if people give up their daily quota of soda and drink hot or iced tea instead, they could be saving a lot of money as well as calories. A Chicago-based dietitian, Dawn Jackson Blatner, hails the report saying that it “busts the myth that it costs too much to eat healthy.” There is word of caution as well from Margo Wootan, who works with the “US Center for Science in the Public Interest.” Wootan said, “If they (people) buy a bag of chips for $2, they think it’s a good deal, but if they buy a bag of apples for $2, they think it’s a lot. We need to do more to help people understand that fruits and vegetables are not as expensive as they think they are.”
5) What To Do?
Now, after listening to so many good things being said about healthy foods being cheaper than junk foods, you would naturally want to know how to afford a healthy diet at home. We bring you the tips provided by Judy Caplan, a spokesperson for the “Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.” Caplan asks you to do the following steps if you want to save money on food:
- Plan ahead.
- Freeze leftovers.
- Use expensive proteins such as meat and poultry as condiments, rather than the main dish.
- Eat whole grain tortillas or healthy foods like avocado to keep yourself feeling full for longer.
- Buy seasonal food to save cost.
Junk food can be as addictive as street drugs, so now, you do not need to opt for it anymore. It seems to have been made clear beyond doubt that eating healthy food is cheaper than gorging on junk food any which way, whether you take its nutritional value or the portion size in consideration. So, from now on, when you crave to buy a burger, just compare it to the fruits and vegetables being sold in the supermarket next door and think how much you can gain from making the right choice.