Organic? Eat a Big Mac and pocket the change

Nevada City Where the elite meet to eat.

Nevada City
Where the elite meet to eat.

As anybody who’s shopped at Whole Paycheck…I mean Whole Foods knows, eating righteously is an expensive proposition.

You would think organic fruits and vegetables would be cheaper than their industrialized competitors because they haven’t been treated with expensive herbicides, insecticides, and other goodies from the kitchens of DuPont and Monsanto. Shopping at any famers market will disabuse you of that notion.

But that beats actually eating this stuff at a formal, sit-down affair. The Nevada City Farm to Table Banquet was held in the middle of Commercial St. last August, where, the promoters promised, the fortunate few “seated among linens and sunflowers, under the summer sky and hanging stands of terrazzo lights” could partake of our “local, organic bounty.”

Alcohol was extra and the floor was a lovely blend of oil and grease. Still, the meal cost $65 a head. The less well-off could eat grilled kabobs in a “section dedicated to casual dining” for $9 to $12 each.

Eating organic has become a trend that mostly the upper-quartile can afford. But eschewing the organic and just trying to eat a healthy diet can also be expensive. How expensive? About $2,000 a year more for a family, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers led by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, reviewed 27 studies from 10 high-income countries to evaluate the price differences of foods and diet patterns.

They concluded that eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts costs a family about $1.50 a day more than less nutritious meals. Meats and protein showed the highest price difference, costing about 29 cents more per serving.

That may not be much of a difference for most Americans, but $1.50 a day can be a big barrier for poor people. “Lowering the price of healthier diet patterns…should be a goal of public health and policy efforts,” Dr. Mozaffarian said.  “Some studies suggest this intervention can indeed reduce consumption of unhealthy food.”

This could become even more difficult if the House Republicans get their way and food stamp funding is cut $39 billion over the next 10 years. Sometimes the only choice the poor have is to eat a Big Mac and pocket the change.

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