Hi everyone, Dr. Junger here.
One of the biggest criticisms of eating clean is the idea that clean food is expensive and unaffordable.
The challenge with a lot of the criticism is that it is often misguided. Sure, if we compare the immediate cost of eating clean to the immediate cost of eating junk, eating junk will almost always be cheaper, there’s no doubt about it. But that’s only part of the story.
When it comes to calculating the price of food there are two things to consider. First, what’s the immediate cost, the price tag, on the item? And second, what’s the true cost, the long-term impact of our food choices? Let’s explore them both.
Getting Sick is Expensive
We’ve all heard about the mortgage crisis, but have you heard of the medical bill crisis? Unpaid medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy today.
In 2013 over 20 percent of Americans reported significant challenges paying their medical bills and more than 1.7 million of them filed for bankruptcy. And while universal insurance will help, it isn’t expected to fix the problem.
Medical costs are rising so quickly that even those with insurance are finding it hard to keep up. Considering that most chronic diseases are preventable by better food and lifestyle choices, it’s safe to say that getting sick is much more expensive than eating clean.
Whole Foods, Not Packaged Foods
A few years ago Whole Foods Market, the natural foods grocery chain, was given an unflattering nickname, a name that has stuck even today. The nickname “Whole Paycheck” came from the sticker shock many people experienced at the checkout register.
But if you hang out at the register at most natural food stores across America, including Whole Foods, you’ll notice something interesting. The majority of foods that drive up the checkout total aren’t whole fruits, vegetables, and meats.
The foods that cost the most are processed or boutique health foods like organic kettle cooked chips, strawberry-melon kombucha, gluten-free oatmeal cookies, and raw food maca bars. Don’t get us wrong, these foods taste great, but a diet of packaged natural foods isn’t what clean eating is all about.
Clean eating is about focusing on a solid foundation of fruits, veggies, natural meats, and other whole foods. When we spend our hard-earned money on these items, instead of on packaged health foods, we’ll see an immediate drop in our grocery bills.
Here’s an easy way to cut your food expenses: eat in. Today it is estimated that over 40 percent of our food budget is spent eating outside the home.
Restaurants, regardless of whether they are healthy, are expensive. Depending on restaurants, even clean ones, to make almost half of our meals is one of the easiest ways to ensure that we’ll break the monthly food budget.
When we’re not reliant on restaurants and the prepared food buffet at our local natural food store, clean eating becomes extremely affordable.
To your health,
Alejandro Junger M.D.
P.s. The information in this newsletter was drawn from an essay in my new book Clean Eats. My team and I have 6 other essays in it to help you make better food choices and live clean.