There’s No Such Thing As Cheap Food

Well, there is in terms of initial outlay of cash from your wallet, but if food is cheap it’s not for good reason. For the most part, cheap food is bad food, and any “savings” one realizes by purchasing it quickly disappears once a little time passes.

The local fast food joint is somehow able to sell two hamburgers for just $2; how is that possible? Two buns, two beef patties, various condiments, paper wrapping, a bag to put them in, the register attendant, the “cook”, and the restaurant overhead – how can they sell two hamburgers for just $2? The true answer, the one they won’t tell you, is that they can’t. At least not the type of hamburger you would choose to cook for yourself at home.

The hamburger may be called “100%” beef, but that only means that 100% of the product comes from some part of the cow. That includes all the yucky parts you wouldn’t willingly eat if you knew that’s what the burger was made out of. “Pink Slime,” a mechanically processed meat filler made from bone fragments, connective tissue and sinew is what the majority of fast food places make their burgers out of. The buns are made from cheap ingredients like nutritionally-void bleached wheat flour and high fructose corn syrup. Condiments? Made from corn products. Cheap fast food isn’t really food at all, but rather it’s just a commodity we use to satisfy hunger while hurting our own health.

Cheap food is a myth.

Non-organic farms are fertilized with toxic sewage. Non-organic fruits and vegetables are coated with layer upon layer of pesticides and fungicides and are also mostly genetically-modified. Factory farm meat, where the animals are treated poorly while being force-fed a continuous diet of corn and antibiotics, leads to meat contaminated with dangerous bacteria and antibiotic-resistance in our own bodies.

All of this leads to increased trips to the doctor, soaring rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, learning disorders and heart disease, and higher health insurance costs for everyone.

If there was ever an item to spend a little more money on, it’s the food we put in our bodies each and every day. Why so many of us don’t blink when paying $4.00 for a Starbucks latte but then complain about a $2.00 organic tomato I will never understand. Food and water are the most important products we can buy; why do we look for the cheap way out? Saving $1.00 this week at the grocery store could cost tens of thousands in medical care a few years later.

In addition to the fact that organic fruits, vegetables and meat weren’t grown using toxic chemicals or raised in toxic environments, they have also been shown to contain more beneficial nutrients than non-organic foods. For the planet and our bodies, they are just plain better in every way – and maybe cost a few bucks more at the store each week. When you buy cheap food, you should expect negative results. After all, when you buy the cheapest car, house, clothes or anything else, you get what you pay for. The same goes for our food.

Some tips for making the most of your food dollars:

  • If you eat meat, always choose organic, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free products
  • Buy from the Farmer’s Market whenever possible to get food at its freshest and support the local economy
  • Always purchase organic eggs and dairy products free of rGBH growth hormones
  • Choose organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible, especially those items with soft or permeable skin more susceptible to pesticides

Organics may cost a little more up front, but choosing to pay the real cost for your food now can reduce or eliminate unexpected costs later in life for both yourself and the world we live in. Do your part for not only your own benefit, but for everyone else’s, too.

So, what kind of food do you eat?


There’s No Such Thing As Cheap Food — 20 Comments

  1. I’m trying to get better at avoiding cheap food – particularly meat! There’s a place in my husband’s home town that sells exactly that kind of burger – and I’ve always wondered what they put in it! 🙂

  2. You make a lot of sense.

    My strategy has been to buy organic for items I eat a lot of and for items that the dollar difference isn’t much. For the rest–like meat–I just try over time to eat less of it. Spending 5x as much for the sort of meat you recommend doesn’t cost more if I eat 5x less meat! Oatmeal is a perfect example of the second category of products where I buy organic–dollar difference isn’t much. Where I live, organic oatmeal costs about double non-organic oatmeal. But if that means my bowl of oatmeal costs 20 cents instead of 10 cents, that’s not a meaningful difference to me, so I opt for organic.

    I’m always thinking of how to boost the proportion of organic. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. That’s definitely true. I’ve become much more aware of what I eat and in choosing healthier foods have seen an increase in my grocery bill; Quinoa isn’t cheap but really healthy, switching over the soy milk has also been more expensive. But I still search for coupons to save a few pennies. No fast food means we have to either spend more on eating out or make everything at home which takes planning.

  4. I buy ALL of my meat from Whole Foods where they have that great rating so you can see it’s “organic” ranking on a scale of 1-5. Everything else I try to get at a farmers market or at Kroger. I think people need to be reminded (and often) about fast food. It’s so easy to forget and convenient enough to be constantly tempting.

  5. I totally agree. I haven’t gone totally organic, yet, but I have better monitored the meats that we purchase. It’s more expensive, but what’s more important to spend money on than your family’s health?

    Would farmer’s markets be one way to cheat the system? Their food is usually pretty fresh and cheaper than the super market’s. I think this may be the only exception.

  6. EEeeek, I’m definitely one of those people who doesn’t blink at my Starbucks receipt, but cringes at the price of free range beef. That said, I do love my local farmers market, and have debated about buying into a CSA. I might complain about the costs, but I know they’re well worth it.

  7. Wonderful advice. We think and spend more time on what to watch on TV than to the quality of food that we eat. For last several years, I have been eating 100% organic. And, it has really helped me.

    • lol. I think there are many other people who would admit the same thing. TV shows etc. seem to be more important than what people put in their mouths. I am glad you have made positive changes in your diet and that you have reaped the benefits. It will only keep you doing it.

  8. It is important what you put in your body.

    Garbage in and garbage out.

    We blog about coupons but it is important to note that some coupons help you save money on healthy products but many coupons are out there for unhealthy processed food.

  9. One thing that Brian and I do is try to buy less meat, but when we do purchase meat, we get something nice, like organic pork or local, artisan sausages. Eating less meat is better for you anyways 🙂 It’s an ongoing process and we don’t always do this – I think that just by cooking your own food and not relying on processed food, you’re already way ahead of the game.

    • Good for. What you buy is the battle. It costs more for quality but to me it is worth it. I agree too that cooking for yourself is huge. You can eat so much healthier that way. Boxed processed stuff is literal death in a carton. Keep up the good habits.

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