Why is healthy food so expensive compared to unhealthy food? This question has resonated in my head multiple times in the past few years, even more so since I started buying my own groceries in college.
A few days ago, I went to Chili’s with some friends. While reviewing the menu, I realized that the healthier options are much pricier than just a burger and fries, even at restaurants.
After some quick research, I learned that it costs about $1.50 more to eat healthier every day, according to a Harvard study. This adds up to over $500 every year. By eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats, it is costing you in the long run. Five hundred dollars is a lot of money, especially to a college student. If prices were lowered, more people would probably be inclined to eat healthy. Part of the reason heavily processed “junk food” is so cheap is because it is made in bulk with lots of preservatives. These foods are made this way so they can be sold and eaten over a long period of time, whereas fresh fruits and vegetables are organic, so they age quicker. I prefer to eat foods as they age and I feel that heavily processed foods have more chemicals in them, which scares me.
Another reason is because there are lots of meats that contain many growth hormones to help the cows grow faster and larger. This results in a higher production rate for farmers. This may sound good in theory, but I don’t want to eat a burger or steak that has a lot of unhealthy hormones in it.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, livestock are injected with hormones to “increase the animal’s growth rate and efficiency by which they convert the feed they eat into meat.” This means that animals that used to take four to five years to be mature enough to be processed only take around 16 months.
Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish all cost more to produce, and the prices only go up if they are organic. Most of the healthier foods might not taste as good as processed food, but they are definitely better for our digestive system.
There are multiple ways to shop for healthy, unprocessed foods as a college student on a budget. An easy way to save money at your grocery store is through coupons; H.E.B. often has sales or coupons for healthier items. Another option is the Waco Downtown Farmers Market held every Saturday, which offers lots of locally grown fruits and vegetables and healthy alternatives to grocery store products. Also, ordering off of the children’s menu when you go out — you’ll get smaller portions at a lower cost.
There are many ways to save and still eat healthy in college, even if it means getting a side salad instead of fries when you go out.
Kayla Farr is a senior journalism major from Whitesboro.