Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?
The answer is NO.
The “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli …” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”
this bullshit fills me with a very specific kind of rage. so, TIME TO DEBUNK!
- that meal from mcdonalds takes virtually no time to acquire AND is available almost anywhere.
- the second meal? that “salad” is lettuce … with nothing else, not even dressing unless its just olive oil or some milk i guess? gross.
- also thats the price of each serving, not an entire loaf of bread, a bottle of olive oil, etc. that stuff adds up which means you have to have a lot of money at one time to buy it all.
- that meal probably took an hour and a half to make, which is a long fucking time when you work multiple jobs or are caring for a lot of people or dont have help! seriously, if you are a single parent of three who works, is spending an hour and a half every night preparing a meal a likely option?
- same with beans and rice! also, you know whats a fucking bummer? eating beans and rice every night because you are poor. ask any person who has done it and they will tell you (you can start with me).
- there is a “nutrition” argument here that lacks a follow up: poor people are more likely to be doing physical labor and need more than 571 calories per meal.
- you know who is less likely to know how to bake or prepare a chicken? people without access to the internet, or libraries, or who werent taught how to by their parents because their parents worked all the time. access to healthy foods is a classist issue and classism is cyclical, you fucking morons.
- seriously, these sorts of infographics make me want to fucking flip tables. do you know why people don’t eat more fresh fruits and vegetables? because fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, because they take a long time to prepare, because they dont live near a grocery store that has a decent produce section, because they dont have reliable transportation to get groceries to and from the grocery store, because they dont have the energy to plan all of the shit that is involved in making healthy, intentional, filling, balanced meals. basically: poor people get fucked, and then we get BLAMED for being lazy.
- eating “healthy”, aka access to fresh fruits and vegetables, is a privilege, first, foremost, always. so fuck you new york times and your ignorant goddamn infographic.
- there are SYSTEMATIC REASONS that we do not have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables. they are very REAL problems. besides, you know, systematic poverty in america, the total mis-distribution of farm subsidies is a perfect place to start. read about that, then either get bent or start working on the actual problem.
YES YES YES YES YES
I am so fucking tired of seeing these misleading as fuck infographics about how “healthy eating is cheap!” No. No it is fucking not.
DUDES. You can get healthy food for cheap. You really can. I’m not saying the food is cheaper necessarily, but there are ways to MAKE IT CHEAP. Or at least CHEAPER.
First of all, there is a really good book out there that I have learned a lot from called: Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet- All on $5 a day or less
In my first shopping trip after reading the book, I spent $70 at my local organic grocery store for a week’s worth of food for my fiancé and I. Which, obviously, is $10 a day for the two of us to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. That trumps McDonald’s any day.
The main thing that makes it work is that you have to get off your butt and make meals/ food items for yourself. All of which you can do one evening a week and then reheat the food later in the week. She teaches you how to make your own bread and yogurt; amongst other things. Which, does actually save you a lot of money.
But even if you don’t make all your own food, you can still learn a thing or two from the book.
You really have to be a savvy shopper. If you can ditch brand loyalty, that will already save you a bit of money. According to the Private Label Manufacturers Assoc., if you ditched name brand and bought all generic, then you would already save 30% per week. Also, did you know that produce is not taxed? (Atleast it isn’t in my state, it might be different in other states) So, you are already saving 8% or so if you buy mostly fresh produce. Then, if you really want to save money on produce, buy whats local and in season. Buying asparagus out of season is a lot more expensive than when in season. Why? Because they have to ship it from a part of the world where it is in season. Lastly, you also need to compare prices to save the most. If you have 4 different types of soup to buy, then take a second and grab the cheaper option. Doing that alone will also save you some cash.
Anyway, I am not some health food nut and I eat junk food just like everyone else. But recently, my fiancé and I switched to a 90% healthier diet because my fiancé’s health was in jeopardy. We made that switch pretty damn quickly and it’s not like I’m in the poor house all the sudden. I am actually spending a lot less but that is mostly because my diet is mostly vegetarian at this point. I just really think that if people really work at it, then they could eat healthier. If they wanted to. No one is saying you have to cut out junk food completely out of your weekly meals, but if you really wanted to make a difference in your own lifestyle, then I don’t think it would be too hard to cook a meal at least 2-3 nights a week. But, so many americans make excuses for things instead of trying to make things work. I’m pretty sure a good portion of the daily patrons of fast food joints are only there because its convenient, fast and tastes good. Some people are just lazy. And I understand that people have trouble getting access to good produce or the grocery store or whatever due to not having a car/riding public transportation, but how exactly are they getting Mickey D’s? It’s not like it’s delivered to their front door. So, if they can get to McDonald’s then I’m sure they can get to their grocery store as well. I don’t live in the nicest neighborhood (I really don’t. I hear gun shots all the time, my car is always in danger of being broken into and I had to go to court to testify that my neighbor is a sex offender) and I know that grocery stores are still accessible around here. Some might not have produce, but even if you are just making spaghetti at home, it usually tends to be healthier than anything you buy at your local Taco Bell.