Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Why a salad costs more than a big mac"

If my husband had a nickel for everytime I said that a cheeseburger cost the same as an orange, well, we could buy a lot more oranges. I have used this argument to explain the high rates of poverty in poor families and have long been frustrated by this trend.  It doesn't make sense on first glance. Food costs money, if you are poor, you should be thinner, since you don't have the money for food. In areas of the third world, yes. In the United States, not so much.

There are a zillion soundbites about this but the information is similar. From 2003-2007, obesity rates in the U.S. leveled off to some degree, except among the poor. In that time period, obesity rates among those below the poverty line went from 39% to 44.8%. Nearly 1 in 2 poor kids in America is overweight. Mississippi is hardest hit.

I've always had my non-academic, non-scientific opinions about why this is, but THIS makes sense. And it pisses me off.

Why wouldn't meat and dairy (i.e. cheese and burger patties) cost less? The federal government is basically paying for its production! The FDA says that a bulk of our food should come from fruits and vegetables, and yet we can barely even see the dot on the subsidy list. We are not paying as much for McDonald's because the government is absorbing most of the cost to produce it! AAAHHH.

I am not, nor have I ever been poor. The Missionaries of Charity have taught me not to necessarily see this as a blessing, knowing the fruit and beauty that can arise out of different forms of poverty, but it's just not been the cross I have had to bear yet. I will say that I have never been hungry and am grateful for that.

However, we are budget conscious in the Ninness family. I use coupons where I can (ever seen a coupon for carrots, or red peppers??) and we shop at different places for different deals. We have a pseudo-farmers market next to our house and buy most of our fruits and veggies there. But what we save in price, we sacrifice in longetivty. They are discounted but are usually short of shelf-life at this point. And we all know how quick I am to snack on anything healthy! The point is, I am aware of our budget when I'm walking down those aisles, and I know well the temptation (that I usually give in to) to buy the granola bars instead of the grapes. Bear with me for the horn tooting here, but I am an educated woman, without great financial strain, a decent knowledge of nutrition and no major struggles with weight. And I  find paying for and then, gasp, actually eating the healthy foods a challenge. If I struggle with this, please explain to me how I take a single mother of four, working 2 jobs at minimum wage, who has been raised on and knows only how to prepare high calorie, dense foods (that also feed the most people for the least amount of money), and convince her to stock her pantry full of fruits and veggies??

Okay- sorry Ross- soapbox over. But if any of you have any suggestions, other than writing members of the agriculture committees in Congress, of ways to advocate on this issue, I'm happy to hear!

**thanks to "Mrs. 2nd Lieutenant" for the topic"


  1. R and I were just chatting the other night how God should have made healthy foods taste like wings...

    It is sad that it's cheaper to go thru a McD's drivethru and grab some burgers and fries than it is to go grocery shopping and buy dinner for the fam. Being fat used to mean you were weathly - it's really almost the opposite now - here in the U.S.

    Eat a banana, Keri. They are like .40 cents.

  2. so frustrating....and so true, and living right smack in the middle of mississippi.....i see it all. the fruit/veggies here in MS are significantly more expensive than in GA. we noticed this when we moved. RARELY can we afford fresh produce on byron's salary. i can only imagine how others do it. it just makes me so angry!!

    speaking of cheeseburgers, i gave up fast food for lent. i was so proud of myself yesterday as i was out & about at lunch-time, i was actually kinda grossed out about the mere thought of eating mcdonalds. :) granted, i grabbed a bag of pretzels and a diet coke...but still. :)

  3. i'm so with you. i gave up couponing for the most part because of this, but i go back to it on months our budget is tight because it's the only way to eat for cheap.
    on another note, i'm so glad you commented on my blog because a.) it's always good to hear that others identify with you and you're not crazy, and b.) i didn't know you had a blog, so i'll look forward to keeping up with you and that baby of yours :)!!