Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Comparing the Cost of Eating Habits

In a recent post I talked about the high cost of organic produce. I recently came across a hypothetical comparison made by Learn Vest comparing meat diet, pescetarian (fish, no meat), vegetarian, and vegan. Learn Vest is a website that aims to help people raise their standard of living while living within their financial means.

Now this is in no way meant or suggested as a scientific evaluation. They simply took a typical diet from each of the four eating habits. Judging the bottom line, the vegan saves almost $1,300 annually. The vegetarian also saves significantly over the meat eater.

Another interesting observation is that the price rises significantly in each group when more processed foods are used, as opposed to raw ingredients being cooked. This brings up another aspect: time.  Many people who are pushed for time are going to look for the quickest meal, always the processed one. Sadly, this is often also the least healthy. If you are going to deprive yourself of certain foods in order to invest in your health, you are also going to need to invest time.

Unfortunately, time is often the scarcer option.

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com



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2 thoughts on “Comparing the Cost of Eating Habits

  1. This is an issue that is close to home here. As a diabetic (and yes, a meat eater – I have no interest in going vegetarian or any of the other “diets”), I have to pay closer attention to what I eat than many. Not saying I’m so great at it all the time, and yes, that’s because of the lack of time.

    But there are ways to get around the time factor. When eating out, there are choices. Most fast-food restaurants have salads on the menu. The biggest danger to a good salad is the fat and calories in the salad dressings. It’s actually very easy to make your own and carry small containers with you each day, or to keep handy the salad “spritzers.” When I do want the burger or chicken sandwich, I’ll remove half or all of the bread, sometimes ask if it can be wrapped in lettuce. Same with just about any restaurant. I’ll bring my own dressings, sometimes even my own drink.

    But what really gets to me, and as my husband has found out as our income has dwindled, and he’s begun a new business of developing organic hydroponic growing systems, is the cost of produce, of healthy food choices. Processed foods are actually much cheaper in the long run, which is why it’s a way of life to so many families. I can make a full box of Hamburger Helper for approximately $6 (including the meat) as opposed to a balanced meal of a leaner meat, and vegetables.

    And if you’re looking to go organic, that’s even more expensive. Produce simply shouldn’t cost as much as it does. In the same day recently, I saw artichokes (medium-sized) going for $3.98 each at Safeway (highest I’ve ever seen), then down the road I saw them at 2/$1 at Food Maxx. Unbelievable.

    My husband is working on systems that will require little maintenance, can be used indoors or out, in small spaces or large, and wants to pass on his recent education to others so that we can, once again, rely on ourselves to provide the fruits and vegetables we need, not give in to the high prices mandated by others to feed ourselves in a healhier manner. The entire idea seems daunting at first, but like anything, it is possible. It comes down to your willingness and motivation.

  2. Sweet site, I hadn’t noticed leftcoastvoices.wordpress.com before in my searches!
    Keep up the great work!

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