Friday, April 6, 2012

Is Healthy Whole Food only for the Elite?

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

thumbnail pic comes from the article.  (hope it is okay to repost here) let me know if it is not.  Giving credit to the article for the graphic..  I think it would also be good to show some other cost comparisons cost of TV dinners and also show the cost of organic/vs. non organic choices.. grocery store versus getting from farmer/or food co-op)

quote from article

The core problem is that cooking is defined as work, and fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch. “People really are stressed out with all that they have to do, and they don’t want to cook,” says Julie Guthman, associate professor of community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of the forthcoming “Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice and the Limits of Capitalism.” “Their reaction is, ‘Let me enjoy what I want to eat, and stop telling me what to do.’ And it’s one of the few things that less well-off people have: they don’t have to cook.”

We need to make some lifestyle changes in the way we approach food. It should and does not need to be more expensive to eat healthy food. Eating and enjoying the preparation of healthy real, unprocessed foods is not just for the elite and/or leisurely. 

For a long time now, the government has subsidized corn and soy which encourages the production of unhealthily fed cows, chickens, fish; the production of corn syrup which has been used in so much processed foods, and the use of oils that when consumed inflame our arteries causing heart disease, diabetes. The choice between convenience now, but health problems later  (or) Eating real, whole foods now, and living longer, healthier, accruing less med costs from chronic illnesses later..being there for our grandchildren (hopefully).  

(my own mother died at the age of 55 from heart attack)..she cut the fat off the meat and bought low fat foods, but she did not realize those chips and boxed foods, sodas, margarine were much more dangerous than animal fats..  Article on what really causes heart disease

 There really are some easy quick healthy ways to cook and eat. 

  • The crock pot is one great tool for this.  Get up a little earlier, and prepare some food in the crock pot to be ready by dinner time.  Also casseroles can be prepped ahead of time (refrigerated or frozen), to stick in the oven when the time is right.
  • Beans  are not expensive and are quick to prepare and be a main course or an added protein to help you feel full..  
  •  Potatoes and salads can be embellished many different ways to create a whole meal that is satisfying. You can add broccoli, bacon, hamburg, cheese, seeds, beans, etc to potatoes!  and it does not take very much "prep time" and it is really inexpensive. Salads can have added nuts, dried fruits, raw fruits, beans, tempeh, or left-over meat to become a whole meal.
  • Eggs-We can eat a lot more eggs than we thought..and they are a great staple any time of day, not to mention quick to prepare.
  • Sandwiches-There are so many types of sandwiches and they can be a lunch or a dinner, hot or cold. Simple or gourmet.  Want an easy dinner: grilled cheese sandwiches!  
  • Big Batches. When you do have an afternoon to cook, make a big batch of something or double the recipe. Freeze the excess into smaller batches.  This is a wonderful budget and time saver.  Make 2 lasagnas, make extra pancakes, make an extra large stew, chili..All of those things freeze well, and take little extra time to increase the quantity.  Two meals for the time of one (plus).
  • Soups-Every week, I buy a whole chicken, and that chicken provides 2-3 meals.  Meal 1-we eat the chicken as our main course, Meal 2-left-over chicken for sandwiches or smaller supplement to a meal, Meal 3-I use the bones to create chicken stock which makes a healthy soup!  Talk about stretching out the nutrients and cost of the chicken.
  • Purchasing bulk meats from a farmer, a meat CSA if you don't have as much freezer space, can save money on meats that are not fed corn or treated with hormones, etc..  
  • Food buying clubs-can help cut some of the costs of the jacked up grocery prices.  
  • Buying local, in season foods can be cheaper too. don't buy strawberries from Mexico in December.  In the winter, carrots, kale, cabbage, root vegetables, apples are usually not expensive staples.   In the summer-stock up on strawberries, corn, green beans and freeze them if you really want to eat them during winter months.  put your heating budget into your food budget during the summer..
  • Meal Planning: Plan out predictable menus that repeat each week or bi- week.  This is really good for budgeting $ and time. You have predictability in your shopping, planning and food prep.  For example: Monday-chicken night, Tuesday-soup night, Wednesday-bean night, Thursday-red meat night, Friday-homemade pizza night (or pasta), Saturday-crock pot or casserole, and Sunday-fish. There can be variety and flexibility with each category, but it is predictable and you can track cost and time that needs to go into each meal.  
  • Grow food in your yard, or in pots.  (and example of growing possibilities using cinder blocks at an apartment)  
  • Join a CSA, (community suppored agriculture) and get a weekly box of veggies during the summer (and sometimes even winter months)
  • in recipes calling for more exotic or expensive foods, use substitutions of foods you already have.
  • Herbs go a long way in adding flavor to foods..and you can grow them an indoor pot, or a garden outside..  One plant is all you need for years of flavoring! Rosemary bushes are hearty outdoor sources of flavor!  Oregano, mint, thyme, parsley also grow very well outside even sometimes in the cold..  You often do not have to keep replanting it..  My parsley goes to seed and reseeds itself for the next year.  

  • If a grocery store is not nearby and you do not have a car, bike to the store, use a backpack or bike trailer to lug the groceries. sometimes, the extra cost of having groceries delivered can eliminate the impulse spending in the store) 
  • if you do need to use a bus to get groceries, buy enough for 2 weeks so you don't have to go as often.  
  • Buy grains, beans, and nuts in bulk (popping corn, rice, wheat, oats  buy beans dried rather than canned.  Beans are a wonderful source of nutrition and there are so many uses for them..garbanzo beans alone are a wonderful staple..Ever roast them in the oven with olive oil and salt, hummus, in a casserole?  pinto beans for burritos, kidney beans in a chili, or a 3 or 4 beaned salad?  Beans are cheap..and very healthy!  Nuts are satisfying and can be stored in freezer/refrigerator, cheaper in bulk.
There are many more ideas out there too, to make food prep easier, cheaper, and fun..

Also, preparing food need not be drudgery after a long day of work, it can be pleasurable, when you turn it into a challenge, or a work of art..It can be relaxing too, if you listen to music, talk on the phone, ask friends to join in.  Heck, you can even watch TV, while you prep food, if you are really needing that wind-down time.  It can be educational for the kids if you include them in the prep too..  Food prep is art, it is community time, it is relaxing time..  It need not be a chore..  

And when it does feel like a chore, that night, might be a good night, to pull out one of the meals you have frozen from the weekend, to give yourself that break..  

So, what if you are faced with the choice, I can afford an apple or a big mac.  That big mac may fill you up, but that apple with give you something simple and have vitamins in it. It may not "fill you up"  but it won't come with it (negative nutrition)-- You won't die if you are a little hungry, but you will die(over time), if you eat too much of all those additives and oils..  

In the US, we eat so much food, but so much of what we eat is dead and empty of nutrition, but full of additives and hormones.. We need to care about this..  We need to not feel bad about paying attention and putting some more time and prioritizing food into our budget a little more..  We spend tons of money on entertainment, but feel badly if our food bill is too high..  but, if we cannot afford a high food bill or entertainment bill, we do have option of eating some healthy cheaper staples..or even eating less, as long as what we eat "COUNTS" towards providing nutrition to our bodies.  (and not negatively counts towards hurting our bodies)


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