Why Eating Healthy Food Will Cost Your Family $2,000/Year More Than Processed Junk

Organic FoodThe gap between haves and have nots becomes ever more obvious when the have nots can only afford to eat processed junk that doesn’t deserve the moniker “food.” CBC reports on a study demonstrating the disturbing correlation between healthy eating and high income:

A family on a healthy diet can expect to pay $2,000 more a year for food than one having less nutritious meals, say researchers who recommend that the cost gap be closed.

The research in Thursday’s issue of British Medical Journal Open reviewed 27 studies from 10 high-income countries to evaluate the price differences of foods and diet patterns.

“Our results indicate that lowering the price of healthier diet patterns — on average about $1.50/day more expensive — should be a goal of public health and policy efforts, and some studies suggest that this intervention can indeed reduce consumption of unhealthy foods,” Dariush Mozaffarian, the study’s senior author and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and his co-authors concluded.

Eating a healthier diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts would increase food costs for one person by about $550 a year, the researchers said. Diets rich in processed foods, meats and refined grains were considered unhealthy.

Among food groups, meats and protein showed the highest price difference and cost about 29 cents more per serving.

Previously, Mozaffarian’s team suggested taxing less healthy foods together with subsidies for healthier foods would balance price differences.

“That’s a real price difference, $1.50 for a low-income family could be an important barrier,” Mozaffarian said in an interview. “On the other hand, that’s a cup of coffee, that’s a trivial cost compared to the enormous burdens of heart disease, obesity, diabetes that are due to poor diet.”

The $1.50 per day is hugely significant for anyone working with budget constraints…

[continues at CBC]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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5 Comments on "Why Eating Healthy Food Will Cost Your Family $2,000/Year More Than Processed Junk"

  1. Kevin Leonard | Dec 6, 2013 at 11:30 am |

    Cheaper than Obamacare… and better for your health!

  2. These kind of calculations are illusory since all the processed junk is getting heavily subsidized, which includes not only those directly to the crops themselves (corn, soy, grain, etc…), but “indirectly” to fossil fuels creating artificially cheap petrochemical fertilizer and gas. In other words, they’re already paying for that other trash, it just doesn’t “show up on their grocery bill.” That’s not to mention the “external” costs that get tacked onto healthcare and, most importantly, the environment (which are incalculable). Here’s Joel Salatin putting it much better than I can:


    Also, given the recent recognition and burgeoning understanding of the importance of epigenetics and the microbiome – and how both can be shaped by diet, environment, and/or likely inherited – eating healthy becomes that much more important. Not only that, given its multi/trans-generational effects, the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” will increase in more than just wealth. Here’s one such study suggesting as much that’s currently making waves in biology (and showing signs of that sacrilegious “Lamarckism”):

    The smell of fear inherited in mice

  3. Rus Archer | Dec 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm |

    frozen vegetables = cheap

  4. Posthuman | Dec 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

    Ethnic cleansing.

  5. davakins | Dec 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

    If you dont buy processed foods, organic or not, you wont spend as much money on food. The catch is that money saved on food can be spent on preparation and storage. Having a kitchen stocked with the the right ingredients can be expensive, too. It takes skills that aren’t very common in the lower income bracket, another reason why poor people often eat cheap crappy food.

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