Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is There A Way To Encourage Healthy Eating (and Living)? - The Shock Of A Lifetime

Is there a way to flip the pricing / cost of healthy and non-healthy food to make the good stuff cheaper and the bad stuff more expensive so that we can eat healthier without worrying about cost?

It's a matter of supply and demand, I know. But will we ever get to the point where the demand for healthy, organic foods is greater than the demand for over-salted or high sugar content processed foods? Or will the supply for good-for-you food ever surpass the supply of off-the-shelf, ready-to-eat packaged goods? 

I have no idea really, but I'd hope that something drastic happens in my lifetime.

Here's an example of something that bothers the heck out of me.


Amazon Fresh has 1 pound of regular strawberries for $3.99, while they carry organic strawberries for $5.99. You have to pay a $2 premium to eat better quality food.

I think it would take an enormous one-time shock to the systems (financial / economic / agricultural, etc.) for anything to change.

There has to be a way. So what if, for example, organic fruits and vegetables were produced in mass and the price could be driven as low as other non-organic fruits and vegetables? Then in theory, the demand for organics could potentially be what non-organics are currently. At the onset, obviously, the supply wouldn't be enough to feed the masses. But after a potential spike in cost until farmers could supply the demand, prices would come back down to affordable, reasonable levels. 

Or what if farmers just stopped producing non-organic fruits and vegetables all together? What if everything was organic? Again, it would be a temporary shock but the end result would be what I'm looking for. Mass produced, organic fruits and vegetables at inorganic prices.

Regular bagels
Whole Wheat bagels
Stepping away from the organic / inorganic conversation, how about just making a decision between healthier options of the same product? Let's take breakfast for example.

Bagels. If you're from the Northeast, you know this is a staple breakfast item. Whether you buy it from your local bagel store, a street vendor, or your local grocery it rarely disappoints.

For a 6-count package of Thomas' plain bagels on Amazon, you would need to pay $3.49. Add some Philadelphia Cream Cheese, a regular 8oz tub, and that's another $2.99. All together, that's $6.48. But if you so happened to be in a healthier mood and wanted to trim some fat and eat whole grains, your option would likely be for Thomas' 100% Whole Wheat bagels and the 1/3 less fat version of cream cheese. A 6-count would be $4.94 and the 8oz tub is an additional $4.39. The total comes to a staggering $9.33. That's a premium of $2.85 to eat a marginally healthier meal (see the nutrition labels). 

Regular cream cheese
1/3 less fat
What about McDonalds? Let's take a look at 2 sandwiches that they offer and compare the relative healthiness and cost. The All-American Double Cheeseburger versus the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich. We all know that chicken is leaner; grilling is better than frying; white meat is better than red meat. The chicken sandwich sits on McDonald's menu at a price of $4.39, while the double cheeseburger is a value-meal at a measly $1.69! 

And take a look at these nutrition facts. Clearly the Artisan Grilled Chicken is a better choice for health purposes. But of course, it's at a premium. 

Artisan Grilled Chicken Nutrition Facts

Double Cheeseburger Nutrition Facts

Alternatives to regular, unhealthy food are the key to a healthy living. But healthy options are, unfortunately, more expensive in the marketplace. When good food becomes the primary sustenance, the cost relationship should flip. 

Sadly, I find this predicament true of not just the food industry but also the energy industry (alternative / renewable energy > fossil fuel). There are plenty of other situations, industries, and products where the current "alternatives" are better for people and the environment but are more expensive than regular products. Clearly, we need change. 

If we really wanted to encourage healthy eating, we'd find a way to make it cheaper and require less cost-benefit thought. Good food should be a no-brainer. But how can we make alternatives the primaries? 

Maybe like the heart attack that jolts a man to changing his poor eating and healthcare habits from bad to good, a sudden shock to our financial, economic, and agricultural systems is all we need to drive a healthier lifestyle going forward. 

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