Sunday, January 30, 2011

This morning, I spent $110 on food at the grocery store.  Just for myself.  I didn't buy an exorbitant amount of food, either.  Maybe enough to get me through two weeks.  Is it any wonder why we have an obesity epidemic and diabetes cases are on the rise?  My grocery bill is that high because I put a premium on buying natural, healthy foods.  I buy 96% lean ground beef, which costs about $5.25 a pound.  I spend extra to buy chicken and eggs that come from animals who are only grain-fed, never eating animal by-products.  I spent several minutes reading the label on every package of whole wheat bread, finally buying the one with the lowest sodium content, regardless of price.  I load up on fresh vegetables and berries, never buying frozen or canned.  I do buy the occasional can of soup, but I only buy the $2 cans, never the cheap cans because I don't want to add that much sodium to my daily intake.  (Seriously, reading the sodium content on packaged foods makes my heart hurt.)

I can afford to shop this way.  I have only myself to feed and I make a pretty good salary.  But if I had a kid or two, if I made less money than I do, I would have to alter my purchases.  There are a lot of people in this country who make half what I do (or less) and have children.  Most people just can't afford to be as picky as I can and have to compromise on items with more sodium or fat or preservatives and less nutritional value.  When I was a poor secretary just out of college, I ate more than my fair share of $.08 ramen packages and cans of canned ravioli because I could only afford to spend $20 a week on food.  I can't even imagine what my diet would have looked like if I'd had to feed a kid as well.

While I'm thankful that I am lucky in this respect now, I can't help but be angered by how expensive it can be to eat well.  Healthy food should not be a luxury item.


Aaron aka Frank said...

Agreed. I live in Australia where the labour costs are quite high (thanks to a rather strict industrial relations system) and even in the regional areas there seems to be a premium on the healthy alternatives - for the average joe unskilled labourer healthy eating is indeed a luxury. I'd hate to live in Sydney where the cost of living is much higher - healthy food would simply be out of reach for the unskilled workforce.

I'm a university graduate on good money in the IT industry and even I find that healthier food is a stretch.

Trouble is, millions and millions get put into advertising campaigns that could be better spend subsidising healthy food to bring it on par with their not-so-healthy bretheren, while passing legislation to prevent price-gouging aimed at taking advantage of the incentives.

BellsforStacy said...

I agree with you in theory.

But ...

I grew up on canned vegetables and milk that came from hormone filled cows (not sure what levels are, or if there were less then, I'd wager a bet that they are). And, gasp, I probably ate food grown in crops sprayed with DDT. None of us were obese. Mom did watch the sodium. Big time. But campbells has had low sodium options for a long time. And actually, sodium is pretty scary. Lean Cuisines and all those microwave lunches are LOADED with sodium. And people eat those all the time!

I think kids are obese today because they're parents are lazy and feed them McDonald's, Dominoes, etc. I used to listen to parents in the office talking about dinner and where to go get it. Mostly because after a full days work they were too tired to bother with cooking. I do not blame them. I get that way too. More than I care to admit. I wonder if there's a study that compares families that eat home cooked meals today versus how many families ate home cooked meals 30 years ago?

And people today are AWFUL about washing produce. That's sort of unrelated, but true.

I am, however, a world class hypocrit. I buy organic products for my son. I still eat the normal (for lack of a better word) stuff, but he gets organics.

It is pricey. But I don't care because his little growing body deserves good stuff. My aging body ... eh it can eat cheaper fare. ;)

I just had a thought too ... I don't see a lot of obese people hanging out in the produce section. I've never thought about it before either so I'll have to keep an eye out. But I do see a lot of obese people at the mall food court.

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