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by DietWrite, Diet.com's Diet and Fitness News Reporter

 
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Experts point out that “convenience” foods cause Americans to eat more, pay less, consume fewer nutrients, and damage the environment.

While expensive gas prices and great shipping distances has caused the price of groceries to go up 4.4 percent in the last year, junk food still remains inexpensive.

According to University of Washington epidemiologist Adam Drewnowski, it's perfectly rational, on a dollar-per-calorie basis, to buy cheap junk food. Because fresh fruits and vegetables cost more to store and ship, Drewnowski estimates it would cost 100 times as much money to get the same amount of energy from fresh raspberries as from a typical packet of cookies.

As a whole, Americans don’t spend much money on food because we choose not to and because we don’t have to. In the US, people spend less money to feed themselves more than any other people in the planet. Just 9.9¢ of each dollar we spend is for food, down from 23.4¢ in 1929. By comparison, 16% of household expenditures in Britain go to food; Brazilians spend 23%, Thais 29%.

For this reason, the USDA has launched programs to educate people that while cheaper foods have more calories, they generally have fewer nutrients. On a dollar-per-nutrient basis, healthy food is not more expensive. Studies have proven that fruits and vegetables are also more satiating, making consumers feel fuller despite containing fewer calories.

The hidden costs to forfeiting health for convenience are numerous, environmental damage being a major problem. In the race to create the cheapest price for produce, farmers apply enormous amounts of pesticides. The obesity problem is more obvious to the public, as Americans spend around $94 billion annually treating ailments related to overeating.

As food expert Carlo Petrini points out in Slow Food Nation, agriculture has become "completely detached from the lives of billions of people, as if procuring food had become a matter of course and required no effort at all." But one way or another, we will pay for all that we're eating.

--Diet.com News


>> Original Article





@ 1:33pm ET on June 26, 2007
Unfortunately, all those 100-calorie packages are costly in other ways too. More packaging equals more in the landfills. And have you compared the per-ounce cost of the single-serves with a regular size bag? Manufacturers are profitting big time from people's desire to control how much they eat!


@ 2:24pm ET on June 26, 2007
So true. Two weeks ago when I wasn't eating healthy I could make $50 go a long way. This past week $50 of fruits, veggies, fish, and chicken will hardly feed us for a week. It is the same at fast food, healthy stuff does not come on the dollar menu. I know it is worth it and it is something we must learn to sacrifice if we want to be healthier.


@ 2:33pm ET on June 26, 2007
Calorie density is always 'touted' in these articles. but remember, most of us don't need calorie dense food. We don't have physical jobs, we aren't professional atheletes and few of us burn even close to the calories we consume. As Americans, we just love to eat, and we eat because it's there. There are exceptions, atheletes (pro or am), people who work heavy physical jobs, etc. but they can eat the cheap calories because they don't have the weight issues that most of us have. Calorie Dense is unnecessary for most of us....


@ 3:40pm ET on June 26, 2007
I noticed when grocery shopping just this past weekend, a simple change to whole wheat pasta vs regular pasta resulted in at least double the price - the portions are smaller and the prices are higher - it just isn't right. We are told to look after ourselves, told about the diabetes epidemic and childhood obesity and about how fat we all are, yet in order to eat better, we have to spend more (much more!). A typical family (mine is a family of 6) simply cannot afford to make healthy choices all of the time. Pasta is just an example... it is a staple for many families and if going whole wheat or multigrain - it just won't last - it doesn't go far enough. All I can do is control my portion sizes and try to fill up on other things.
Another thing I notice as far as marketing goes - the magazines at the checkout counter... notice how all of them (almost anyway) have weight loss stories and tips on the front page - but also a recipe for something decadent and fattening on the same page - what's up with that???!!! I've boycotted the magazines - they don't help me at all.
That's my rant - good luck everyone :-)


@ 5:15pm ET on June 26, 2007
Healthy food does not have to be expensive!!! There are many books on how to eat healthier foods that are not as expensive. Yes buying organtic is more expensive (and it is more importiant to eat friuts and veggies than to simply eat organtic) Second, barilla pasta is generally $1.25 cents and the Barilla plus pasta made with multigrain and flaxseed can be bought on sale often times for less then $2 I but it then in bulk and I have a ton of healthy pastas for meals. Or cereal can be bought for all relitively close in price, it is your option to buy fruit loops or cherios, whole shreded wheat, or even a generic equivelant that most stores offer. Thrid with a little looking around you can probably find fruits and veggies cheeper or at the very least look at adds for sales. Is cooking healther harder yes. But I really don't think it is that much more expensive! Heck, I cooked an amizingly healthy soup that feed me and my boyfriend for 2 meals plus a snack for him for under $6 and even used low sodium orgainc chicken broth. If we ate out at a fast food resturant it would have been that much for one meal or more, at a casual dining resturant probably at leat $10, maybe there would be leftovers though. Either way my soup was cheeper. Meat is generally more expensive that fruits and vegetables per pound and many very healthy things such as dried beans and rice are not expensive. I can make red beans a rice to feed an army with some peppers and celery added in for dirt cheap if I leave out the meat and it is far healthier than dumping saugage in it! And I can do this and I hate to cook and I hate to shop!! And even I can realize that there is not a supper huge difference in price. And alot of healthier solution to everyday problems. Not to mention the fact eating healthier now will save on future medical bills and insurance costs!


@ 10:56am ET on June 27, 2007
Good points - and I agree with some of them - perhaps the prices here in Canada are inflated or we just don't have the same variety (I certainly can't find healthy whole wheat pasta in bulk here). Shopping and making healthy choices is something I've done for years, and believe me, it is not cheap. My only point is that in order to feed 4 children - 2 of whom are teenagers and eat non stop - they are always, always hungry... as they are supposed to be. It is difficult to shop every item healthy and stay within budget. No one can deny that the healthier alternatives are (in general) more expensive - my grocery bill is astronomical at the best of times and I just dont' think it's fair that any food item should be more expensive than it's processed less healthy alternative. Yes - some things are comparable, but most are not. An example: my mother has a very difficult time finding reasonably priced healthy food alternatives that she can budget into her pension income... it's a challenge, that's for sure.

That said - I do buy healthy food and my family eats very well - thankfully I make a good living. Those who don't bring in a large income and have children to feed will find it challenging and get discouraged! Even though I eat well, portion control is my main objective and I hope I can stick to it!

Creativity and keeping the kids interested in good food - that is something I lack, that's for sure... but the effort is worth it.

Good luck everyone - day 3 and I'm still on track woohooooo!!! This is a record for me lol.


@ 11:00am ET on June 27, 2007
Good points - and I agree with some of them - perhaps the prices here in Canada are inflated or we just don't have the same variety (I certainly can't find healthy whole wheat pasta in bulk here). Shopping and making healthy choices is something I've done for years, and believe me, it is not cheap. My only point is that in order to feed 4 children - 2 of whom are teenagers and eat non stop - they are always, always hungry... as they are supposed to be. It is difficult to shop every item healthy and stay within budget. No one can deny that the healthier alternatives are (in general) more expensive - my grocery bill is astronomical at the best of times and I just dont' think it's fair that any food item should be more expensive than it's processed less healthy alternative. Yes - some things are comparable, but most are not. An example: my mother has a very difficult time finding reasonably priced healthy food alternatives that she can budget into her pension income... it's a challenge, that's for sure.

That said - I do buy healthy food and my family eats very well - thankfully I make a good living. Those who don't bring in a large income and have children to feed will find it challenging and get discouraged! Even though I eat well, portion control is my main objective and I hope I can stick to it!

Creativity and keeping the kids interested in good food - that is something I lack, that's for sure... but the effort is worth it.

Good luck everyone - day 3 and I'm still on track woohooooo!!! This is a record for me lol.


@ 12:27pm ET on June 27, 2007
Great response Dalceh! I agree 100%; check the bulk sections of your stores as well. The stores I go to all have bulk grains, bulk pasta etc. and MOST of it is whole wheat and very inexpensive. Do I spend more time shopping? YES, but my budget is $125. for two weeks for two and we eat VERY well. I buy a lot of high fat, high calorie foods for my sweetie (he needs calorie dense foods for his very physical job) but mostly fruits, veggies and healthy foods for meals. Buy on sale, buy in bulk, buy smart and good food is not too expensive. Mostly I pay with my time...finding the right product, the right deal, etc.


@ 1:50pm ET on June 27, 2007
the only area of exception seems to be some grains.....cous cous and quick oats, etc. are fast to cook and can be had reasonably if you can find a good provider. I am so thankful for the farmers market near me, I wouldn't eat half the veggies I do if I paid supermarket prices.

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