July 2012 - Cost of Food

Broken Plate

The weather is in the news. The cost of food is going to increase because of the terrible drought in the American breadbasket. This increase probably will change the average market basket.

My friend says "Healthy food is too expensive!". Although I try to show him ways he can find healthy fresh food that doesn't break the bank. Now, it will be even more difficult to change his mind.

Since the financial crisis, more people are cutting corners to keep their families fed. And, I'm talking middle class Americans. Cutting corners may include buying canned vegetables instead of fresh. Organic produce does cost more.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published a study that found $1 could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips but just 250 calories of vegetables and 170 calories of fresh fruit. And it is also true that Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, is also the fattest.

The five poorest states are also among the 10 fattest, and eight of the 10 poorest states are also among the 10 with the lowest life expectancy.

Being poor means not eating healthy and not receiving healthcare when necessary. When the cost of food increases and the amount of money to spend on groceries is low, we go for the cheapest food available -- the fattest meats and dishes high in saturated fats and sugars. The kind of diet that's routinely linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.

I'm not sure what is the answer to the growing problem - a cycle of inceases in the cost of food -> lower wages -> obesity -> health problems -> lower quality of life -> shorter life expectancy.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, helps low-income people buy food. Although it is a federal government program, it is run by state or local agencies.

There are rules and regulations, but groceries and now other vendors may accept SNAP as payment. Our local farmer's market now accepts payment with SNAP.

You can find out how much you may be able to get online through the SNAP Pre-Screening Tool at the USDA online site. Even if you don't need help buying food, encourage others who may be eligible to apply.

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