The True Cost of Eating Healthy May be Less Expensive than you Think
People have been complaining about the high prices of healthy food for decades. It’s one of the biggest arguments against eating better and it keeps many from including more whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables in their diets. We’ve all heard the arguments, maybe even voiced them ourselves. I know I’ve grumbled over the price of organic tomatoes on occasion when I wanted to make tomato basil soup.We’d love to eat healthier, but we just can’t afford to, right? Even many of the documentaries I’ve seen that promote plant-based lifestyles have noted how easy it is to eat unhealthy as processed foods stuffed with salt, fat, and sugar have become so much cheaper and more convenient than healthier options. The high cost of healthy foods has been something we all commonly believed to be fact. Turns out we’ve been wrong all along…well, kind of.Yes, there have been plenty of reports and studies that have reinforced the misconceptions, but a fairly recent report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture turns all the old reports on their heads. All the previous studies have focused on a cost per calorie basis. On the surface, that makes total sense. Calories are the fuel our bodies require to move and function. We focus on them, count them, and obsess over them, but that’s because, as Americans, most of us eat well more than we need each day.This over consumption of calories means we’ve been looking at the cost of food incorrectly. This study looked at the price per calorie of foods but also focused on the price per weight and the price per serving size. This confirmed, once again, that healthy foods are more expensive per calorie, but are far less expensive when looking at weight or serving size. Whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit are much less expensive in a price-per-gram or price-per-serving way. So, is eating healthy really more expensive? Not even remotely, not when you eat by the servings and don’t overdo your calories.Processed foods trick us into thinking we’re saving money by packing a ton of calories into each inexpensive bite, but then we eat much more of them before we feel full and satisfied thus losing the cost benefits. A single serving of fresh fruit contains antioxidants, fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals, leaving us feeling much more satiated than a less expensive donut. Dense, calorie-rich foods, like that donut, seem cheaper on the surface, but are much less filling without the water and fiber we find in their low-calorie counterparts that fill the produce section. Processed foods lead us to overeat and as we consume more servings the price climbs rapidly. These are also usually unnecessary calories that the body then turns into fat. These processed foods are very poor in nutrition, even if they are cheaper, as they have been stripped of the vital vitamins, minerals, water content, and fiber that they might have once had. Therein lurks another hidden cost of cheap, convenient food.These high-calorie processed foods contribute to obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, premature aging, and even cancer, raising the price of unhealthy food even more through pain, suffering, and medical costs. Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States and many other countries and it contributes to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Think of the health-care costs that can build up around these conditions. It is undoubtedly cheaper to avoid these preventable diseases and remain healthy as long as possible by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.If you truthfully want to save money, then healthy is the way to go. It may be slightly less convenient to have to chop your own vegetables and open your own jars, but no one can argue any longer that it is too expensive. There are also plenty of other ways to save money while eating better too. It isn’t too difficult to make amazing recipes either. Like the myth about price, making your own food isn’t as difficult as you imagine. Start today and watch your health and your bank accounts improve.