Eating healthfully: Expensive? Time-consuming? You decide
June 14, 2010 by dianescholten
The other day on Facebook I posted a link to a blog entry I liked on the Money & Happiness blog. This particular entry was on the relationships between obesity and income (http://www.moneyandhappiness.com/blog/?p=965).
I found the article interesting, but I found the comment stream on my Facebook page even more interesting. My commentary, in posting the link was “Interesting article on links between money and obesity. I think she left out one important variable, that is related to money, but not entirely – that is socioeconomic class. I don’t know this for a fact, but I think a Hummer might cost more than a Prius, but I think we’re talking two different strains of population here. The Whole Paycheck peeps are different from the Albertsons peeps in more than money, I think….”
The first comment was from my friend Carolyn who said “It’s expensive to eat well.”
My friend Dave countered with “Isn’t the author making the point that good food is *less* expensive than junk?
Convenience foods are highly processed, loaded with preservatives, and elaborately packaged. People buy them ’cause they’re easy, not ’cause they’re cheap.
The Albertson’s/Whole Foods thing is a red herring. By nature of the products they carry, a WF shopper is going to have a more healthy diet — you’d have to work relatively hard to find fattening food there. The Albertson’s shopper can find good food and pay less for it than for bad food, but you have to do it on purpose. The author makes that clear.
Eating garbage is not the unavoidable lot of the poor. It’s the result of bad decisions.”
I agree with Dave. I had mentioned to Carolyn that in my hippie youth I was poor as dirt but ate pretty healthfully – though it involved more beans and rice than salmon. She countered saying she couldn’t eat grains.
Tonight I made an over-the-top delicious variation on the classic French summer salad “Salad Nicoise”.
I started with a big handful of homegrown greens from my friend Bill’s garden. Cost to me – only trying to be a decent friend to this generous and kind man. If you know any gardeners getting some free greens right now should be very easy!
The only prep time was hard boiling 4 Farmer Nick’s eggs (2 of which I used in the salad – have two as snacks). Farmer Nick’s eggs ARE expensive compared to factory farmed eggs – that is unless you are measuring by true nutrients. Cost per nutrient they’re probably cheaper, but in terms of money$4.00/dozen so 70 cents worth of eggs.
While the eggs were boiling, I steamed some asparagus and cooked some potatoes. Both were from last week’s shopping and needed to go – so they were ‘rescue veggies’ in their way. Dunno the exact cost – bought the asparagus at the store, the potatoes at the Farmer’s Market and there were just a few of each. I would estimate it was about 75 cents tops for these.
Though it’s not part of the traditional recipe, I sliced up 1/4 of a red pepper as much for color as anything – I think I could call that another 40 cents.
Fresh garlic (3 cloves), 1/2 lemon and some garlic-infused olive oil maybe added anther 75 cents.
The big-ticket item (and the source of protein in tonight’s dinner) was a can of tuna. I don’t have an exact price, but a quick Google search tells me that $2 is a fair estimate for this.
That comes to $4.60. Even if I’m really underpricing things, let’s say $6 to be wildly high. This was salad for 2 meals – so $3 each for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. I don’t think that’s rich people dining, though it was delicious enough (and befits the movie star region of the world from which it emanates – Nice, along the mediterranean in the south of France).
This little exercise was a helpful reminder to me when I feel i don’t have time to cook. See Carolyn thinks it’s expensive to eat healthfully, but I tend to think it’s time-consuming. And really, getting in my car and driving to Panera for the Fuji Apple Chicken salad (my usual ‘fast dinner’ if I’m on the run) not only would have cost me over $8, but would have taken LONGER than fixing this delicious meal.
So if one of the results of the post-crash economy is that we take matters more into our own hands and do for ourselves, maybe one of the unintended consequences COULD BE better health.
I know I came home exhausted and a bit cranky. 20 minutes of meditation and my fancy French salad dinner and now I want to go for a walk and maybe (after all the veggies settle in) even do some crunches or use my new weight bench to do some bench presses. Eating healthfully rejuvenates us in a myriad of ways – including spiritually and emotionally.
And there’s little in life and cooking that some good fresh garlic won’t help, don’t you think?