Money and Food - Time for an Honest Look at our Priorities!


By Nancy Smorch

OK, I’m going to call a lot of people out here, and I’m not going to apologize: People need to quit hiding behind the excuse that it’s "more expensive" to eat healthy foods.

Just like with so many other areas in life, people are blaming the high cost of food for their poor eating choices, when what it really boils down to is that they simply don’t want to buy the foods that are healthier choices.

We all know what healthier choices are.  To make it extremely simple:  more fresh foods (vegetables and fruits), less processed and packaged foods.  Forget, for a moment, the complicated equations about calories (which I don’t believe in counting), grams of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and decoding every piece of food for their vitamins and minerals.  That can get way too overwhelming.  Simply: eat more fresh foods and less processed foods.

But you might say, how can I afford to buy broccoli, it’s more expensive than the side of fries I get with my burger?

First of all, can you, in good conscience, call fast food french fries a serving of vegetables?

And second of all, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the average price of broccoli as of Jan. 2014 was about $1.85 per pound.  So, at the most, you’re looking at $3.70 for a good-sized bunch of broccoli.  You could put this in a salad, sautee it with other veggies and rice, or put it in an omelet.  And, it’s nutrient dense in that it is high in Vitamins C, K, and A.  So, nutritionally speaking, you’re getting a pretty good return on your money.

I know not everyone is going to buy organic, again, because of the (sometimes) higher cost, but there are certain things that should be organic if you eat them.

Take eggs, for example.  The average cost of 1 dozen eggs in the U.S., as of Jan. 2014 is $2.00 a dozen (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The cost of 1 dozen organic eggs can range from $4.00 (which is what I pay from a local farmer) to $5.00 a dozen.  One might argue that it’s crazy to pay twice as much (or more) for organic eggs. But often that same person might pay $4.00 for a latte at Starbucks instead of making their own coffee at home. Probably several times a week!

And more importantly, aren’t you worth the higher price for organic eggs?  Click here to read an article on the major differences between eating regular and organic eggs.

Now, let’s say that a family eats 1 dozen eggs a week.  Actually let’s make it 2 dozen eggs a week, just to be safe.  So, if you buy organic as opposed to regular eggs, you are paying about $5.00 more a week.  How could you possibly afford that?  Well, if you put back the box of Kellogg’s Frosted flakes, you’ll be freeing up $3.88 (from Walmart).  And put the box of Kellogg Eggo waffles back in the frozen section, and you free up another $3.50.  One might say they shouldn’t have to give up other food to pay for the higher cost of organic eggs, but let’s be real.  Are Eggos and Frosted Flakes really food?  You’re not getting any nutrition from them, and you’re stuffing yourself with refined carbohydrates (the big culprit in the obesity epidemic)... and doing nothing to fuel your brain or your kids’ brains for the day ahead.

Switching to a different food riles people up.  I can just hear someone saying, “But orange juice costs more than pop!”

Of course it does!

Real orange juice actually has nutritional value!  Pop has no nutritional value and is loaded with sugar and chemicals!  This, and other food products, are designed to be cheap so you will choose them over the slightly more expensive healthier options.  Food companies know this - if they can make something and sell it to you for cheaper than the healthier options, they’ve got your attention, and your dollars (and your deteriorating health).  But once they get you hooked on their product and continue to market the heck out of it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Let’s remember - a lot of the food you buy at the grocery store today didn’t even exist 30 or 40 years ago.  We didn’t even know we needed to eat them until we were told by the food companies and our “peers."

My point here (and I actually have more than one point) is that sometimes whole foods are more expensive, and sometimes there are not.  But when they do come up more expensive, the nutritional value justifies the cost.

Let’s face it: the original reason humans needed to eat was for the nutrition and energy to survive and do the things they needed to do.  When looking for food sources, humans would most likely find food that was nutrient dense - they didn’t waste their time on food that wasn’t going to help them function to their fullest potential.

We have “evolved” (and I say that very lightly) to a point where we have gotten so far away from seeking out nutrient-dense food that we've actually gotten far away from food with any nutrients in it at all!  Yet we still think that we are eating real food, when we’re really not.

Our priorities have gotten so far out of whack!  We wouldn’t think twice about spending money on a car we probably shouldn’t be buying ,or a house that is bigger than what we really need.  We spend SO much money on technology - computers, cell phones, TVs, video games, entertainment - which is all fine, but when we start thinking that spending $500 - $1,000 on an entertainment system is okay, but that spending an extra $5 a week on organic eggs is not okay, I don’t know... you tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

We are the richest nation in the world financially, but the poorest health wise.  It’s time for a HUGE shift in priorities.  Give your money to companies and people who care enough to make food that is nourishing to yourself and your family.

Continue to enjoy food - good quality, delicious, beautiful food.  But if you are going to focus on the cost of food, I’d like to propose we start thinking about the food we eat in terms of return on investment (since money seems to get peoples’ attention).

What sort of return on investment, nutritionally and health-wise, for your body and mind, are you getting from the food you buy and eat?

Just some more food for thought.

If you would like more information on how to shop smart for your health, check out the article "One Way to be Healthier: Don't Eat Like the Average American."