Eating right costs but value is there

It is no accident that waist lines tend to ex-pand in a reverse ratio to family incomes: eating right costs more.
A study made by the University of Washington compared prices of 372 food and beverage items at three major Seattle supermarkets. The average price of the lowest-calorie, highest-nutrient foods increased by almost 20 percent between 2004 and 2006. In the same period, the cost of most calorie-laden items actually dropped 2 percent.
The researchers went on to observe that “while a bag of cookies may cost less than a pint of fresh raspberries, there are hidden costs to cheap calories — namely, obesity and the host of ailments that come with it. The medical costs associated with obesity are estimated at $90 billion a year in the U.S. alone.”
While that may be convincing to university re-searchers, it doesn’t im-press the average grocery shopper looking for a way to stretch his income to cover costs. The grocery bill is now; obesity is somewhere in the future.
The unvarnished truth is that diets high in fresh fruits and vegetables — the diet recommended by dietitians — cost a lot more than energy-dense foods heavy with sugar, fat and salt. The mun-chies found on the center aisles of grocery stores cost about $1.76 per 1,000 calories, compared to $18.16 per thousand calories for low-energy but highly nutritious food.
So what’s a family of modest means to do?
First, relax.
Food is a terrific bargain in the U.S. Americans spend a smaller portion of their incomes on food than any others do.
Then plan family meals with both nutrition and cost in mind.
Buy sweet potatoes, for example.
They provide starch, natural sugar and fiber you need at a reasonable cost and don’t need a calorie-rich, fatty topping to make them taste good. Irish potatoes don’t have excess calories in themselves but are more commonly covered with gravy or/and butter or margarine.
Enjoy pasta. Choose lean meats and pay attention to serving sizes. Don’t drown your salad in dressing.
Take advantage of sales and the freezer in your fridge. When food that’s good for you is on special, buy extra and freeze some. Plant a garden in the spring and eat from it all summer.
Most important, tailor your eating to your exercise level. A growing boy running cross country stays thin on 3,500 calories a day. The same diet makes a guy with a desk job fat as a tub.
Bottom line: fatty, sugary, salty stuff tastes like more — exactly what the food industry designed it to do — costs less and gets you in deep trouble quicker. Fruits, veggies, lean meats and pasta keeps you healthier — cuter, too — and can be afforded by almost everyone with a little planning.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.