Is Healthy Eating Worth the Cost?
I have been on a mission the past 6 months or so to improve our families eating habits. I want the whole family to eat healthier. But I am finding that eating healthy is more than just getting your 3-5 fruits and vegetables each day. That is a good start and one that we are still working on (me included), but there is so much more than that it can be overwhelming - and very expensive.
I don't think people had to worry about this problem 50 years ago. Even when I was growing up 30 or so years ago it was so much easier to eat healthier. With the invention of processed foods and prepackaged convenience foods there is more and more bad stuff in almost everything on the grocery store shelves. The more bad ingredients in foods translate into fewer good ingredients.
For the food manufacturers (what happened to the food growers? Since when did everything have to be manufactured?) it is all about keeping the costs down and increasing the shelf life of products. By doing these two things their profits will increase. And for the food manufactures it is all about the profits. This, it turns out makes the foods worse for the consumer.
Centuries and even decades ago people didn't really have to concern themselves with eating healthier. It was a fact of life and bad for you foods didn't really exist. Candy was expensive and hard to come by, so it was a rare treat. These days I would venture to guess that most people consume candy every single day. I know I like to have my dark chocolate each day.
Now there is a whole new market for healthy eating. And it is a pricey one. Does healthy eating have to cost a lot of money and if so is it worth the cost? One of the ways a person could eat healthier would be to go back to eating the basics like our ancestors did each day. I am talking about beans and cornbread, vegetables and fruits that they grew themselves or bought in season. Homemade breads, meat that has been hunted, oatmeal and local fruits are also how people used to eat.
While this sounds ideal, these days even that would hard. Most people don't have access to hunting and many people don't have the time or space for gardening. Preserving foods for the winter has definitely fallen by the wayside with such easy access to grocery stores. I do however think that if people were to try to eat more basic foods that haven't been processed this would go a long way towards a healthier diet.
The more prepackaged an item is the more additives and fake ingredients there will be. Artificial colorings, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils are 3 of the worst things that food companies add into foods. I have been on a mission this year to cut these items completely out of our diets. Let me be the first to say that it is very hard. One or more of these items seems to be in just about everything.
I have been spending more money at the grocery store and coming home with less food. I have had to switch brands of many of the products I normally bought in order to avoid these 3 things. Not everything has gone over well with the children, but many things are just as good, if not better and they have to be better for you right? From the reading I have done on the subject I think so.
You have to decide for yourself if eating healthier is worth the cost. Organic fruits and vegetables are more expensive than nonorganic. The benefit is that they are pesticide free, which is important. We have not been able to make the switch to all organic foods, it is just too expensive. We have decided to make choices. I believe this is what it comes down to. I buy organic carrots, but not potatoes. For me to feed my family potatoes (a staple around here) organically it would cost over $5 for 1 meal, when I could get the same amount nonorganic for $.40 or so.
Many people, including us, make the decision to concentrate on a few things to make sure and purchase organic. You can either choose the top few foods that have the most pesticides and buy only organic of those items or you can choose the few items that you eat the most of and buy those organic. Another option for eating healthier is to decide on certain ingredients that you don't want to consume and refuse to buy products that contain those items. This requires a lot of label reading which is time consuming. Once you know which brands will work with your decisions it will be easier to shop.
Each family or individual needs to decide for themselves whether eating healthier is worth the cost. In some regards it might be cheaper. If you switch to a vegetarian diet and don't buy a lot of the fancy fake meat products you could cut your grocery bill down substantially. If you go back to eating the basics only, you could cut your grocery bill down substantially. I think that is worth it and that is one of the ways we are trying to eat healthier.
Heating up a Hot Pocket for lunch is fast and easy, but not at all good for you. Cooking from scratch takes time, but I am becoming more and more willing to invest my time into my family's health. Is eating healthier worth the financial cost and time spent? I am still in the process of figuring out where our limits are on these items.
I have to say though that if you can't afford organic, then you can't afford it and that is fine. We go through phases in the amounts of organic foods we eat and sometimes that is none. But you don't have to turn to ramen noodles. Beans are cheaper, more filling and much better for you. Eating healthier does not have to cost a ton of money. But it is up to you to decide how you want to live and if it is worth it or not.