Finally some good news about healthy eating
I was delighted to see an article on Fox last week about the cost-benefits of eating healthy foods. They even made some great points that I have made in earlier blogs on this topic. From the article (see link below):
An Agriculture Department study released Wednesday found that most fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods cost less than foods high in fat, sugar and salt. That counters a common perception among some consumers that it’s cheaper to eat junk food than a nutritionally balanced meal.
The government says it all depends on how you measure the price. If you compare the price per calorie – as some previous researchers have done – then higher-calorie pastries and processed snacks might seem like a bargain compared with fruits and vegetables.
Well, I did an analysis of price per calorie and was pleased to find that I save at least $3,600 per year by eating a mostly whole foods, plant-based diet. Sure, there are some cheap calories out there in the world of fast food, but there are also some real bargains in the world of whole, plant-based foods.
For example, take my almost daily side order of rice and beans. Not just any rice and beans—but rather a delightful blend of wild rice, brown rice, red beans and black beans. (For recipe, see my Sailors Super Lunch.)
How much does it cost? About 15 cents for a 100-calorie serving or 30 cents for 200 calories. By comparison, a Big Mac costs more than four times as much for the same number of calories. I make up a large batch about once a week, divide it into seven individual servings and pop them in the freezer. By keeping two un-frozen servings at the ready, I can usually prepare my super healthy lunch in less than five minutes.
But, as the article pointed out, cost per calorie isn’t everything.
“Using price per calorie doesn’t tell you how much food you’re going to get or how full you are going to feel,” said Andrea Carlson, scientist at the USDA’s Economic Research Service and an author of the study.
For example, eating a chocolate glazed donut with 240 calories might not satiate you but a banana with 105 calories just might.
“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 said.
The USDA study criticizes a 2010 report from researchers at the University of Washington, which found that calorie-for-calorie junk food is more cost-effective for low-income people than eating healthy.
So how do I save $3,600 a year? Actually that’s how much I save on the meals that I eat in restaurants. Being a single man working out of my home, I enjoy going out to dinner most nights. And I typically find that my custom-ordered, plant-based entree costs about $10 less than others on the menu. At thirty restaurants meals per month, that’s $300 a month or $3,600 a year.
- Fox News article: Healthy eating can cost less, study finds
- My earlier blog on this topic: Dollars and Sense of Plant-Based Eating
What could be better? Taking charge of your health and saving a ton of money at the same time. For less than $36, you can learn how to take charge of your health for the rest of your life. If you also count saved medical expenses, nursing homes and the like—for a family of four, you might save a half million dollars in the next 40 years.
Handy 3-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Our book: Healthy Eating, Healthy World by yours truly & son
- An essential nutrition resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
One sad point that should be mentioned. In the lower income sections of most major cities, people have almost zero access to healthy foods. So their cheapest calories are fast foods and junk grocery items. And this is why the rates of diabetes and and obesity are highest in those areas. A social issue that must be addressed.
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation