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Eating Right At What Cost?

healthyismoreexpensive__opt.jpg Last week, a BEEF Daily blog post sparked a heated discussion on food, taxes, the government and our freedoms as Americans. The blog asked readers, "Do you support a bad food tax?" Some readers said “yes,” while many of the comments shared concerns about personal responsibility, Big Brother telling us what to eat, and that overtaxing simply empties Americans’ wallets while doing nothing to solve the nation’s obesity issues.

Another of my past blog posts,"My Take On My Plate," discussed USDA’s new dietary guidelines. Now, a new study contends that complying with the new guidelines will hurt our pocketbooks, which is bad news in light of the state of the U.S. economy.

"A healthy diet is expensive and could make it difficult for Americans to meet new U.S. nutritional guidelines," according to a study that says the government should do more to help consumers eat healthier. An update of what used to be known as a food pyramid in 2010 had called on Americans to eat more foods containing potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium. But if they did that, the study authors said, they would add hundreds more dollars to their annual grocery bill. The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, was based on a random telephone survey of about 2,000 adults in King County, WA, followed by a printed questionnaire that was returned by about 1,300 people. They noted what food they ate, which was analyzed for nutrient content and estimated cost.

"People who spend the most on food tend to get the closest to meeting the federal guidelines for potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium," the study found. "Those who spend the least have the lowest intakes of the four recommended nutrients, and the highest consumption of saturated fat and added sugar. A lot of people assume the poor eat cheap food because it tastes good, but they would make better choices if they could afford to. Almost 15% of households in America say they don't have enough money to eat the way they want to eat. Recent estimates show 49 million Americans make food decisions based on cost."

Read the study: Healthy eating means spending more at store.

Do you agree with the points of this study? How can we encourage folks to eat healthfully, choose beef as their preferred protein source and protect their wallets, too? How do you think the state of the economy will impact Americans' eating choices?