TODAY’S POINT OF BALANCE: I think these four recent news articles say a lot about the financial difficulties of eating healthfully:
…from The New York Times: The Obesity-Hunger Paradox:
Full-service, reasonably priced supermarkets are rare in impoverished neighborhoods, and the ones that are there tend to carry more processed foods than seasonal fruits and vegetables. A 2008 study by the city government showed that 9 of the Bronx’s 12 community districts had too few supermarkets, forcing huge swaths of the borough to rely largely on unhealthful, but cheap, food…
…But the Bronx’s hunger and obesity problems are not simply related to the lack of fresh food. Experts point to a swirling combination of factors that are tied to, and exacerbated by, poverty. Poor people “often work longer hours and work multiple jobs, so they tend to eat on the run,” said Dr. Rundle of Columbia. “They have less time to work out or exercise, so the deck is really stacked against them.”
…also from The New York Times: Why a Big Mac Costs Less Than a Salad:
…one more from nytimes.com: What’s Wrong With This Chart?:
Unhealthful foods, with the exceptions of cookies, have gotten a lot cheaper. Relative to the price of everything else in the economy, sodas are 33 percent cheaper than they were in 1978. Butter is 29 percent cheaper. Beer is 15 percent cheaper.
Fish, by contrast, is 2 percent more expensive. Vegetables are 41 percent more expensive. Fruits are 46 percent more expensive.
The price of oranges, to take one extreme example, has more than doubled, relative to everything else. So if in 1978, a bag of oranges cost the same as one big bottle of soda, today that bag costs the same as three big bottles of soda.
The lower-middle class doesn’t want to be lectured by a more well-off person about how easy and worthwhile upgrading one’s diet is, because the immediate thought is, sure, easy for you, perhaps.
MY RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT:
My husband and I are very lucky and incredibly thankful to have full time employment. Even so, I’m always on the look out for a deal as you may have noticed. For this reason, I shop at a variety of groceries stores.
I go to Marc’s every Sunday morning to load up on produce, milk and eggs for the week. We tend to go through these items pretty quickly, so Marc’s price point makes for a wallet friendly shopping destination. In the warmer months, we tend to hit up the West Side Market on Saturday afternoons. Mid-afternoon, the produce vendors are more likely to make a deal to help move their product.
I visit Giant Eagle specifically for deli meat, cheese & bread for the week’s lunches, as well as shop the weekly sales. Their Fuel Perks program doesn’t hurt either. Another place I shop strictly for weekly sale deals is Target. We like the berries that they carry in their frozen food section – they make for a great addition to oatmeal and smoothies.
I try to limit my trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s as 1) I tend to spend money on items I really don’t need and 2) the prices on items are generally higher than at my other shopping destinations. I do love the assortment & quality of foods at these two spots, so if I’m looking for something extra special, I’ll throw a few extra bucks at it here.
LONG STORY SHORT: Healthy eating is possible, even on a budget. Deals are EVERYWHERE – in the newspaper, your mailbox, your email inbox and all over the internet. Just start looking for them already! Taking just a few moments to plan your grocery list savings will save your wallet and your waistline.