Thanks to Mark Bittman for this column on food costs. I’ve been saying this for a long time. There are lots of ways to cut costs on higher quality food, such as joining a Community Supported Agriculture farm. Rodale documents the benefits to the economy of growing organic food.
“As demonstrators seek accountability from Wall Street, a dark horse rises from our amber waves of grain with a message of economic growth–the organic farmer. The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) collected and reviewed American scientific research on organic farming in an effort to help policy makers understand the true value of organics. In addition to the usual environmental and human health benefits, one of the features that has been so far undersold is that of economic stability and growth.
“Organic food and beverage sales have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. And sales for organic fruits and vegetables in 2010 increased 11.8% over 2009, despite the slow economy.”
Great visual on What We Eat from the Washington Post.
Michael Pollan on what we feed kids in school lunches.
Now, Mark Bittman: 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 is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!)