I Can’t Afford to Eat Well…and Other Lame Excuses

Eating healthy food doesn’t cost more money.  It costs more time but gives you more time…time to live…past your 60’s.  As food prices have fallen, health care costs have risen.  Correlation does not equal causation but I think the two are linked. Here is my lovely bride with more to say on this topic.

“It’s just too expensive to eat healthy.”

My reply was that in the long term eating cheap is very expensive – it costs you your health and medical care is only getting more expensive.

As I thought about that conversion I wish I had taken it a different direction.  I don’t believe it does cost more to eat healthy food, even in the short term.  What are some of the items in your shopping cart this week?  A bag of chips usually will cost $3/lb, Cheerios – $4/lb, Oreo’s – $5/lb, candy bars  – $8/lb.  Compare that to a Chism Heritage Pasture Raised Chicken – $3/lb or raw milk from grass feed dairy cows – .75c/lb.  How much money do you spend on food that isn’t nurishing you? Cheap and easy food is not real and sustainable food.  Just because you can chew it, swallow it, digest it and maybe even like it does not make it real food.

In America we spend less on food than any country in the world.  This cheap food is not only causing people to be malnursihed but it also effects our soil.  Joel Salatin in Folks, This Ain’t Normal says, “Don’t people understand that a cheap food policy will create a cheap farmer policy?  And a cheap farmer policy will create a cheap landscape policy?  And a cheap landscape policy with create a cheap soil policy?  No civilization can be any healthier environmentally or economically that it’s soil.  No health care system and no bank bailout program can compensate for a bankrupt soil policy, which is exactly what a cheap food policy creates.”

Our family is still developing good eating habits.  We certainly have some issues we need to work on but we have come a long way.  Eight years ago a typical day’s menu for my children looked something like this:
Breakfast:  cold cereal (absolutely nutritionless and full of sugar) with pasturized 2% milk (from who knows what farm)
Lunch:   peanut butter and jelly on cheap bread
Dinner:  hamburger helper with canned refridgerated rolls and a can of green beans

Today there is no boxed cold cereal in my house.  Breakfast is usually eggs and bacon, fruit salad with cottage cheese or oatmeal.  My kids still love peanut butter and jelly but I make the bread and jelly.  Dinner is usually a meat with vegetables but no bread.  We do buy different food but eating healthy is not just about going to the store and buying different groceries or just shopping the perimeter.  Healthy eating starts with a different approach to food.  You don’t just buy pre-packaged food that is labeled “healthy”, you buy quality ingredients and cook them.  There is no way around it, if you want to eat healthy you have to cook.  If you don’t have the time or desire then you have to pay someone the cook for you.  That sounds very expensive to me.  The great thing about this approach is that it can lower your food budget while giving you more time with your family in the kitchen.  Go to the library and read Nourishing Traditions The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats and Folks, This Ain’t Normal.  Both books will give you a desire and a direction toward real food.  Then get into your kitchen and help your farmer make the world better with just your plate and fork.  Stop watching TV and cook something!

I’m still learning, but I’m learning with my kids and it’s great.  Old habits die hard but we can form better habits in ourselves and our children.  Chime in below and let us know where you have found the most success in your healthy kitchen efforts.

Update
Here are a few sites we rely on to help us in our efforts.  Expect this list to grow.
The Healthy Home Economist
Nourished Kitchen
The Nourishing Home

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4 thoughts on “I Can’t Afford to Eat Well…and Other Lame Excuses

  1. I can’t agree with you more! I spent some time in France and was amazed that I would eat incredibly rich food accompanied by plenty of good wine and then come back to the States having lost a few pounds. I concluded that it came down to the quality of what I was eating — the food we put in our mouths had been cooked from scratch from real ingredients. Dinner and conversation were the evening’s entertainment and a meal took several hours to eat and time to prepare ahead of time. Oddly, we ate less as a result because we took time to taste what we were eating, knowing when we were full.

    Your eggs make me happy because a person really can taste and feel the difference in food that has been treated with care while it is being raised. I wish more people would catch onto this fact…we’d all be a lot healthier. Thanks for the inspiration…and the awesome eggs!

  2. Great post. Like you, our famly is still a work in progress when it comes to healthy eating. We like chocolate and potato chips far too much for our own good! After I read Omnivore’s Dilemma and got all alarmed about high fructose corn syrup, etc – the kids got even more alarmed and took to blacking out the ingredients labels on everything in the cupboards, lol. That was a couple of years ago, and now we’re to the point that most restaurant meals are a disappointment, we have come to like our own cooking better. Which saves a bunch of money that can go to healthy groceries…Thanks for the websites, they look great. I visit http://www.foodrenegade.com/ occasionally. There is an interesting dvd out there too, check it out at http://www.foodstamped.com/ about a young couple who try eating healthy on a food stamp diet.

  3. I have been told you can eat very well buying fresh ingredients with whatever the government assistance program was but you run out of cash in 2 weeks buying “normal” food. Oh, and she said they can’t buy cheese anymore with their assistance funds.

    I, personally, could do a lot better. It is very tempting to pay for my gas inside the gas station in the morning. Once I’m in the gas station, it’s very tempting to have a soda. While walking back from the soda it’s very tempting to look in the donut case. Yup. Gotta pay at the pump.

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