Does Healthy Eating Have to be Expensive?

James Logie

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Those new to a healthier lifestyle often think they have to eat the rarest organic items known to man.

There’s the thought that any animal proteins need to have stories read to them each night, and potatoes have to be hand-washed by monks.

It’s true that some people overspend when it comes to food, but healthy eating really doesn’t have to be that expensive. 

Have Our Spending Priorities Changed?

Monthly budgets have changed drastically over the last century. We have more options to spend (waste) our money on than our grandparents and great-grandparents could ever dream of.

Has this thrown our health all out of whack?

In 1900, people spent 43% of their income on food. Only 2% was spent on entertainment. Granted, most entertainment back then was based around butter churning competitions — but it’s interesting to see the priority placed on food. 

Even in the 1950s, around 30% of a household income was spent on food. That’s a significant amount of money, but there was the understanding that quality was worth it.

From the mid-2000s onward, we are only spending 13% on food.

When you look at how our health levels have plummeted, this 13% statistic kind of adds up. It may be a shock to see how little priority our nutrition has received.

Eating as healthy as possible is more important than ever for people and families. 

You want to be responsible and save for the future, but you also want to get to that future in the best health possible. 

Has Our Food Become More Expensive?

Many people have avoided healthy eating because of the stigma of high cost. This may be why we’ve spent less on inferior foods.  

It surprises many how the cost of produce can actually be cheaper at a farmer's market than at a regular grocery store.

At a farmer’s market, you can find things like locally grown sweet potatoes at the same price per pound as the big supermarkets.

These grocery stores often bring them in from another country compared to the local ones grown within a few miles of where you live.  

Where’s the Beef?

What’s also surprising is the cost of beef at a farmer’s market. Even if you’re not a meat-eater, It’s an interesting thing to look at and compare. 

Supermarket beef can often cost the same price as beef from a farmer's market. And these are two drastically different products.

Beef found in big chain stores will often come from confinement lot cattle. Basically, you are eating an animal that barely walks and is fed garbage while being pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. 

If you live in Europe, you know that this type of beef is often banned from even entering the continent.

Farmer’s market beef is grass-fed and finished, allowed to roam, hormone-free, and able to live like an actual animal. 

If you eat beef, the taste difference is night and day. When it comes to money and value, you actually end up with better value.

When you prepare grass-fed beef, you don’t lose a majority of it through the cooking process. 

Compare this to supermarket beef which is filled with excess water and fat. You could honestly say that this type of protein is just fat disguised as beef. 

Same thing with bacon. The grocery store version shrinks and shrivels into a single bite while grass-fed. Organic bacon retains its full size when cooked.

In the long run, you end up losing money with supermarket beef as you don’t get what you pay for.

Health-wise, grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 content as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a natural fatty acid that may help with fat loss and may lower the risk of diabetes.

If you are a meat-eater, look around for the best versions you can find. 

Key Takeaways

As usual, the point is to focus on real whole foods as often as possible. If you shop in a supermarket, stay on the perimeter of the store as that’s where you’ll find the fresh stuff.

Venture out and check out local farmer’s markets. You’ll be surprised how many are nearby.

If you’re looking for places to find healthy food near you, check out the Farm-Fresh Market Finder app. There is also the Farmer’s Market Locator for iPhone and the USDA Farmers Market directory

When you buy fresh food from these places, you not only save money and keep yourself healthier — but give support to these great local farms and businesses. 

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Personal trainer, podcaster, Amazon best-selling author. Writing about some health, a little marketing, and a whole lot of 1980s.

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