Healthy Foods Not Always Costliest
This study compared the price of different food groups based on three dimensions; calories, edible weight and average amount eaten. When prices were measured by edible weight or average amount eaten, healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables were found to be less expensive than proteins and unhealthy foods.
The authors concluded that healthy eating does not need to be more expensive, but it may be difficult for shoppers to appropriately evaluate the cost of healthy foods. This study is useful for animal advocates, as it does not support claims that vegan and vegetarian diets are too costly to maintain, which are arguments often used to combat advocacy of such diets.
Following are excerpts from the article summarizing the report.
- “Americans tend to think that ‘eating healthy’ is expensive, but new research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that this food price paradigm is based on measuring food prices by calories rather than by portions”
- “‘We found that the price measure used has a large effect on which foods are more expensive,’ Carlson said. ‘If we use price per calorie, fruits and vegetables tend to be more expensive than less healthy foods. In contrast, if we use price per edible weight or per average amount eaten, then grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and less healthy foods'”
- “While the report concludes overall that eating healthy foods doesn’t necessarily mean spending more at the grocery store, the authors did acknowledge some challenges for the average American shopper.”
- “‘The price metrics in this analysis are not easily accessible to the consumer at the point of sale,’ the report explains. ‘Many grocery stores display price per purchase pound or some other unit price as a service to customers wishing to make price comparisons of similar items that come in a variety of package sizes.'”