Bullshit Alert: “Food is so expensive”

By | May 26, 2014

To me this is a ridiculous statement. When I talk about trying to eat more organic or healthy people usually respond that “it’s too expensive.” Or I just randomly hear those types of statements in the grocery store or when talking about grocery shopping. So I have a few arguments for those claiming food in general is too expensive.

Close up view Chinese Cabbage

You NEED Food.

There are few things in life that you actually need. In case you are confused and think that you need a lot, let me clear it up for you. Check my list.

TOP 5 Life Priorities (NEEDS)

1. Air
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter/Clothing/Shoes
5. Family

Let’s break down the list.

Air

You need it. You would die within minutes without it. But guess what? It’s free and it’s all around you. Quality is a different story.

Water

You need it. You can die within hours or days without it. A very healthy person in ideal weather without exerting physical energy might be able to survive 5-6 days.

Water is basically free in America. Just go to a fast food joint and ask for tap water. Go to a public building and use the fountain to fill a water bottle. Go to the bar and ask for a water – you will even get it over ice with a lemon slice and straw! You can find free drinking water all over the place where I live.

Food

So your next priority in life is to nourish your body with food. Again, you cannot live without it. Depending on your excess body fat storage and other factors like genetics and hydration, you can actually live without food quite a while – though you wouldn’t want to. Within a few days you’d experience weakness, confusion, and decreased immunity. There have been reports of people living 30-60 days without food.

So if air & water are free and food is your next priority, then you should (hypothetically) be willing to spend a huge portion of all your money on food. And if you literally cannot afford food, honestly, then I will buy it for you in the way of all the money taken from me by the Gov’t. And knowing people on food stamps, you get a very decent amount of money for food. More than enough to sustain yourself in a healthy way.

But in reality you don’t need to spend most of your money on groceries. In fact, for most people I think, the biggest budget line is housing – especially if you include utilities into that. I have ready plenty of articles and blog posts out there about families living on $50-$100 per week in groceries. It takes planning and sacrifice to lower your grocery bill to the bare minimum. By eating less processed/packaged foods, cutting juice and soda, and buying fresh produce, fresh meat, and whole grains/dry beans you can make a huge difference – more than enough to allow you to get organic.

In fact, I’d like to do a grocery experiment to prove it to you. And now is a good time as I look over my budget for May and I see I have been eating out way too much and spending a lot on food! It doesn’t have to be expensive!

Shelter/Clothes/Shoes

A shelter to protect you from extreme elements is third on my list. It’s necessary to an extent but also the need can be minimized by living in a temperate area or moving with the seasons/weather. Also shelter can be very inexpensive or astronomically expensive depending on how you do it.

Clothes and shoes are a form of shelter for your body. And clothes can also be expensive or cheap depending how you do it (Designer brands vs Thrift/Yard Sales)

Family

To me this is a need – love and support from friends and family are necessary for your emotional and psychological well being. The awesome thing is spending time with friends or family can be free!

Priority Budgeting

Sit down and write out your main monthly expenses. Housing (Rent/Mortgage, Insurance, etc), Utilities, Luxuries (TV, Internet, Netflix), Groceries, Luxury Food (Restaurants/Coffee/Bars), Car Payment, Car Insurance, Gasoline, Cell Phone…..
Re-write them in order from largest expense to smallest.

If your budget is in line with your priorities, then food/water and housing are in the top 2-3 positions. How does yours stack up?

It’s Worth It

My second argument is that buying healthy food is worth the money. If you spend your money on fresh foods (tip: think about the perimeter of the store) you are likely eating a healthy diet. You are getting lots of fresh meat and dairy, vegetables, eggs, fruits (Protein, Fiber, Good Fats, and Complex Carbs!) -yum!  In addition spending a little extra on organic, free range, grass fed, non-GMO, etc is going to be even better for your health with the increased vitamins, minerals, and nutrients and the absence of chemicals and genetically modified funny business. This opinion is mine and it’s probably much easier to argue with this than the fact that you physically need food.

When it comes to spending money on food, either pay at the Grocery/Farmer’s Market on healthy high-quality food -OR- you will  pay for it with lower quality of life and higher health care / doctor expenses.

The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine of the slowest form of poison. -Ann Wigmore

 

Minor Budget Line Item

As a percentage of income, American’s spend less on food now than ever before. In the early 19oo’s American’s spend about 42.5% of their income on food. Now, we allot less than 15% of our budget for food. Our priorities as a nation have shifted. Less people prioritizing food, instead they’re buying cheap junk food. Check out this article which breaks down America’s spending over the last 100 years.

So next time you hold a fresh vegetable in your hand and consider how “expensive” it is, think it over again. Isn’t it worth it to you to put your money into healthy food for you and your family?

 

Image Credits: “Chinese Cabbage” by Alice Henneman and “Dinner to be” by Liz West via Creative Commons license

 

2 thoughts on “Bullshit Alert: “Food is so expensive”

  1. Wade

    We are a family of 5 (me, wife and 3 girls).

    We spend about $125/week on groceries. I typically can buy most everything with quality and quantity at Costco. Fruits and veggies come in bulk sizes for a great cost/consumption ratio.

    Good information here. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Bex Post author

      That’s a great budget for a family of 5! I’m impressed! My boyfriend and I have weird and conflicting schedules and I haven’t nailed down a grocery routine so our grocery bills are pretty sporadic! I need more practice 🙂

      Reply

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