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The High Cost of Eating Healthy - NOT! | Aug. 10, 2011

Some people like to claim that eating healthier is more expensive.  But, the true cost of eating lies in what it will cost you from a health standpoint.  From this perspective, most of us cannot afford to NOT eat healthy because poor diet is linked to risk factors for so many diseases.  While it is true, that fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive than other processed and packaged food items, the focus should be placed on the total cost of eating.  Here is what is meant by this.

 

Fruits and vegetables seem expensive because we expect them to be cheap – from farm to table with little if any processing.  But, they are perishable, so they need to be harvested and sent to the market quickly.  Once they are in the market, their shelf life continues to wane.  This adds to the cost of the product.  Now, if you consider “value for money” fruits and vegetables really rate very highly in the rate of return for dollar spent.  Let’s compare a peach at $1 vs. a bag of corn chips for $.50.  The peach can be consumed down to the pit.  There is no waste; there is a lot of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin E and other antioxidants.  Compare this to the $.50 bag of corn chips where you get carbohydrates, salt, fat, additives, a trace of nutrients and a small amount of fiber.  And then there is the cost of the plastic chip container to add to the landfill.

 

This time of year fruits and vegetables are at bargain prices.  If you can buy produce in season and on sale, any budget can fit these in.  The chart below lists seasons for when you can get the best prices.

 

Fruit

Peak Season

Vegetables

Peak Season

Apples

September to March

Artichokes

March to May

Apricots

June and July

Asparagus

April and May

Blueberries

July

Beans, snap

June to September

Blackberries

June to August

Beets

June to October

Cantaloupes

June to August

Broccoli

October to April

Cherries

June to August

Brussels Sprouts

September to February

Cranberries

June and July

Cauliflower

October

Figs

September to December

Corn

May to September

Grapefruit

June to October

Eggplant

August to September

Nectarines

October to May

Endive

October to May

Peaches

July and August

Leeks

October to May

Pears, Anjou

October to April

Okra

June to August

Pears, Bartlett

July to October

Peas

May to September

Plums

May to September

Peppers, green

September to October

Raspberries

July

Squash, Acorn

October to November

Rhubarb

May

Squash, Summer

July to August

Strawberries

April to June

Sweet Potatoes

September to December

Watermelon

June to August

Tomatoes

May to August

 

 

Keep bowls for fruit cut up in the refrigerator or temporarily out on the table.  Your family will devour them.  Likewise, keep trays of vegetables in the refrigerator so that your family can grab them when they are on the go or just grazing.

 

This weekend I found red, yellow and orange carrots at the farmers market, complete with the tops.  I grew up watching Captain Kangaroo, who always had carrots in his pockets, so naturally I love carrots.  Unfortunately, Barney (who my children grew up with) did not eat carrots to my knowledge – Dinosaurs are carnivores!  So, carrots are always a challenge at our house, but not now.  We had a carrot tasting contest to see which color won “best tasting.”  Hands down, the red ones won!  And by the way, they were only #2.79 a bunch.  Compare that to the bag of corn chips at $4.29 a bag or the soda at $4.59 a six pack.

 

Trying new fruits and vegetables is always a treat and one of the best ways to get a great nutritional return on the dollar spent.  If you would like more information on eating healthy on a budget, join the University of Idaho dietetics students on September 20, as they will present a community forum at the Kroc Center on “How to Eat Healthy on $3.00 Per Day.”