Type: Exploratory
Pages: 4 | Words: 1013
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Nowadays, as people become more concerned about the state of their health and want to improve it, they pay more attention to what and how much they eat. The nutritional value of food items, which are consumed on a regular basis, is largely accounted for an individual’s well-being. Numerous studies underscore the importance of opting for a healthy diet that includes protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Nutrient-dense food is undeniably beneficial for people’s health, but it is also expensive. A high price is the main stumbling block to the popularity and mass consumption of natural and organic foods.

First of all, it should be mentioned that economic factors contribute to the expensiveness of healthy products. The latter are often associated with vegetables and fruits, which are grown in specific climates, stored in huge warehouses and shipped around the world to meet the local demand. Therefore, freshness of the foods, people like so much, is costly and that cost is passed onto the consumer. For example, nectarine may cost $5.20, while chips amount to only $0.99, and instinctively people grab the less expensive item and feel happy that they have saved some money. In times of economic recession, people have to make rational decisions about their expenditures. Besides, regular visitors of fast food chains admit that the healthier options on the menu list cost twice as much as burgers and fries. This disparity in price is accounted for the subsidies that the manufacturers of junk food are provided with. As a result, the prices of the junk food drop, while the healthy food prices continue to increase.

A middle-class American spends on food about $7 a day. However, there are many people, who live on one dollar a day. A couple in Encinitas, CA, conducted an experiment spending on food just one dollar daily. Their food preferences included cheap items, such as rice, raw beans, oatmeal, and cornmeal. They hardly thought about how nutritious their meal was, but were focused on surviving. This is not the first experiment that tries to prove that it is impossible to eat a healthful diet with a limited income.

A relatively recent study of 2011 conducted by the research team from the University of Washington attests to the fact that eating healthy food is expensive. The researchers take into account the economic effects of the new U.S. dietary guidelines, according to which a person’s diet should be rich in potassium, calcium, fiber, and vitamin D and contain minimum or no saturated fat and added sugar. Their recommendations are aimed at helping Americans to decrease the obesity rates, but there are obstacles to developing new habits. As the researchers found out, getting enough potassium would result in additional $380 to the average American’s annual food costs. Getting enough fiber and vitamin D would amount to extra $127 a year. Among the four nutrients, calcium is the one that is abundant in various products, which are available relatively cheaply. The researchers also underscore that “increasing intakes of saturated fat and added sugar had a significant effect in the opposite direction, reducing diet cost”. They emphasize that sticking to a healthy diet is more than a matter of personal choice. Families living on a tight budget are less likely to afford wholesome options. Moreover, government is more supportive of grain producers rather than fruit and vegetable growers. Consequently, supermarket aisles are replete with corn and its byproducts, which are cheap. The researchers suggest that “reorienting agricultural subsidies and other incentives to support the production and distribution of vegetables and fruit would be an important step toward making these foods more available and affordable” (Monsivais et al., 2011, p. 5). Those, who want to eat healthy foods and save money at the same time, should consider the most cut-rate options, such as bananas, potatoes and beans, which are rich in potassium. Processed foods and frozen items may be more tempting and less time-consuming, but, in the long run, their impact on health is proved to be negative. For many busy individuals, it is also more convenient to drop by the nearest fast food restaurant and choose from a cheap menu list than shop for a meal and cook it. Besides, the cooking endeavors may not always be successful.

Some people argue that eating healthy food is less expensive than junk food. In fact, the report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service compares the prices of more than 4,000 food items with regard to such criteria as price per calories, price per weight and price per portion size. The researches divided the foods into five groups, namely fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein. They placed unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium into a separate category. The economists found that grains, pasta and rice are the cheapest products in terms of measuring by calories, weight and portion. Their research vividly demonstrates that healthy foods are expensive, but there are cheaper counterparts that many people simply overlook. For instance, protein such as chicken, meat and fish, costs more by portion size than eggs and beans, which are also protein-rich and cheap. The experts emphasize that measuring price per calories overestimates the cost of healthy foods. What they actually offer is not to lower the prices for healthy foods, but find cheap substitutes that will not affect an individual’s budget significantly. They also recommend buying fruits and vegetables during the season, when the price is not high.

A well-balanced diet requires more expenses, which, as a matter of fact, contribute to looking younger, feeling physically vigorous, and living longer. Saving money on cheap foods is the shortest way to developing an array of health risks and paying expensive health care bills. Modern way of life with an emphasis on profit and a plethora of cheap food choices make it really hard to stay focused on healthy options. Good health requires good investments, and people have to unanimously show preferences for healthy food, so that the government would start taking decisive actions to promote healthy diet and reduce the prices on wholesome products.

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