Thursday, March 01, 2007

Is Eating Healthy Too Expensive?

I'm pondering this today for some reason...I think it's because I just came back from Kroger where I think we'll need to start direct-depositing our paychecks :) I really spend a lot at the grocery--with two kids, one still in diapers, it adds up. However, I've been consciously choosing healthier foods for some time now and they tend to be more expensive than the unhealthier versions, especially anything packaged or out of season.

I think that's why a lot of people gravitate toward the white breads, the processed foods, the sugary cereals, canned veggies. So, how do we work toward making the good choices and keep a reasonable grocery budget? Some ideas that come to mind are:

1. Mixing some fresh, in-season veggies with frozen and canned. Most of your frozen veggies are not precookedand have no added salts, so haven't lost their vitamins. You can steam those babies up and have a good healthy meal. The store-brand ones are usually just as good too. Canned beans--great source of fiber and protein. Add to soups or serve as is. Fat free refried beans are great with Mexican meals.
2. Choosing at least 1 or 2 whole grain bread items a week. See what's on sale. Then, get that refrigerated can of biscuits to have once or twice a week. Try some brown rice. Store brand is good--much healthier than the white rice. And fills you up more. Be creative with your choices.
3. Cut down on the sodas and opt for something like Diet Rite once a day. Drink more water and have milk or unsweet tea with supper.
4. Buy meats on sale and freeze what you don't need--wrap it up really well so it'll keep better. Better still, make double portions of meals and freeze the leftovers for a later meal.

Now for thoughts on buying organic. I wish that I had the assurance that everything I buy was free of pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics, but the food market still has a long way to go here. I just chose to buy sausage patties today that are preserved with MSG...and after looking at all the choices, every package of pork sausage had MSG. Even the ONE choice of turkey sausage I found had some preservative I didn't recognize. The choices in organic, natural meats, especially in small towns are slim. We do have Laura's Lean Beef in Kroger, but only limited options there too. Organice choices in dairy and breads are also limited. The organic fruit and veggie selections are picking up, however.

My theory is---if we keep buying the organic choices and even expressing interest to our grocery store management for more choices, the choices will increase, AND the prices will DECREASE. If we don't support our organic growers, the prices for these things will stay elevated and keep most folks away from them. Perhaps we can cut back on other spending so we can buy more organic products and boost their demand. Another theory--if we spend more to eat healthier, we'll spend less on health care. I'd love to hear your views on this one. Do you think eating healthy is too expensive? Do you choose any organic food items and what? I know I have lurkers out there--time to DE-lurk and voice your opinions.


Jules said...

This is a sore subject. The fact that we are so busy creates the consumer health problems. We want things that are easy, fast, and convienient. I don't buy organic for the same reasons everyone else doesn' costs. Because it costs so much, it sits there day after day and looks terrible by the time I see it. We, my family, take supplements by a company that grows all their own produce until it is vine rippened, flash dries it, and packages in an easy form to get those 11 servings a day. (11 servings now because the regular veggies and fruits are grown in such a way that makes their nutrition content less than at the turn of the century).
WHEW! I'll take a breath now.

Misty said...

That was a deep one, Jules! What are the supplements that you take? Is it in capsule form?

Do you think if we opted to buy more organic products, that the prices would go down eventually? I hate that we have to resort to taking multi-vitamins (I take one too) and supplements just to get in our nutrients, when it would be so much yummier to eat good fruits and veggies.

I've cut out a lot of eating out and snacky stuff to be able to buy more natural products. It's a difficult transition, especially with young ones (and hubby, ha ha!) that are picky.

Jules said...

We take products by a company called Mannatech. These supplements are based on research the company did on cell to cell communication, which is the basics of our immune system. They found that on the surface of the cell, there are tiny hair-like projections where glycoproteins are present. These glycoproteins make it possible for our cells to communicate what their specific jobs are or aren't. Our diets have become so difficient that our bodies are no longer producing optimal amounts of these proteins and our diets fail to provide the nutrients. Hence, auto-immune diseases like cancer, diabetes, and hundreds of others have increased in number since the turn of the century, when food and soil was not over processed and genetically altered.
Mannatech found the kinds of carbohydrates, and these are not like glucose (sugar), can be found in plants. The company grows the necessary plants, and makes a product called Ambertose, which contains 8 essential glyconutrients our cells need to communicate. Taking the products gives your body what it needs to fight off disease by building the immune system. They also have high quality vitamin supplements, and an anti-oxidant made from vine-ripened fruits and veges that contain high amounts of phytochemicals which are only present when produce is ripened completely on the plant or tree.

You're probably saying," I was looking for a simple yes or no."
Sorry. I am very passionate about these products because I have seen their effect on my family.
Wow. That is my longest comment yet!

Misty said...

Wow! That is really interesting! Isn't it a shame we can't get as much nutrition out of our food as we should? Do you think that if we boosted our intake of organic/natural foods, that our cellular proteins would eventually catch up? Or do you think even those foods are lacking in nutrition, instead of just reduced pestisides and hormones? Also, do you grow any of your own produce? I have 3 blueberry bushes, and am planting 3 more this spring. I really love em!

Jules said...

We used to live near a small, privately owned organic farm. They did everything, including rotating crops and natural compost, to make give the soil the most nutrients without compromising the produce. This, I believe, is as close to ideal as I can see. I used to grow my own garden. We had zuccini, green beans, corn and strawberries. The bugs were so hard to fight off. I tried using a spray soap, garlic spray and other natural things, but they won most of the time. Now I have moved to an area that has a high clay content. If I can grow grass in the front yard, I will be excited. Neighbors around have small gardens with very high fences to keep deer and other critters out. We have only been here for a year so I haven't tried. I am going to get some apple trees this spring.

cheryl said...

wow, i'm lucky to take a vitamin once a month....pathetic I know. I plan on putting out a garden this summer, I love fresh garden food. yum

Misty said...

Here's another theory I have. I think organic gardening is really difficult to begin and keep going because of the pesticides that other growers use. They have driven off all the bugs and they come looking for unprotected plants, and the pests that are left are so resistant to even strong pesticides that it's hard to kill them with natural stuff. I tried growing tomatoes here and the aphids just kept eating them up. I'm going to attempt some raised garden beds when the kids get older. I really have an urge to grow my own food. I may have to invest in natural predators (eg ladybugs) and plants that keep insects away (eg garlic, marigolds).