Think healthy food is only for the elite? Think again! Please welcome my guest, integrative health care specialist and food writer, Christine Dionese. She’s here today letting us pick her brain about accessing the abundant benefits of healthy food without breaking the bank!
Pure Mamas: So many myths surround the cost of food and its accessibility. I get a lot of readers and customers complaining about the high cost of being healthy. You must come across many of these myths as you teach families about their real choices. Let’s discuss the most widely held myths about food and its cost.
Christine: Hi Juli! Identifying these myths is the best place to start empowering people about their beliefs on food and nutrition. While there are many, most center around economic concerns for families. While the price tag may be perceived as high, the real cost of food translates into our personal philosophies on health and wellness.
PM: What do you mean by “the real cost of food?”
CD: How about the difference in cost between simple-carbohydrate containing foods verses complex-carbohydrate whole foods. For example, it’s true that the sticker price of bleached white bread and organic whole grain bread will obviously differ. The white bread might seem more appealing since it’ll satisfy hunger and comes with the lower monetary cost, but at what real cost?
In a society where we experience exceptionally high rates of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, the real cost of these nutritionally void food choices are seen in our health care costs over time. Investing in healthy food choices is a conscious decision to invest in your family's long-term health and wellness.
PM: Still even, I’m sure this is a challenge to convince people of?
CD: Like most things, there’s a learning curve. My patients who’d been shuffled from doctor to doctor couldn’t understand why it was marginally more expensive to come for a visit to my office instead of doctor x, y or z. After coming regularly and thriving with an integrative approach, they could see the healthy advantages in their wallet as well. Fewer visits equalled less co-pays, less cost on transportation, empowerment and well-being. The same exact money-saving principles equate to investing in healthy food choices.
PM: Which brings us to the myths you mentioned a lot of folks tend to perceive about food.
CD: Most of the myths are centered around the almighty dollar. Here’s a couple I hear all of the time.
Myth 1 Health Food is only for rich people.
- Not true! It's a been a long-held myth that eating and buying healthy food is only for the elite and rich folks. The first myth to bust is the poverty mentality surrounding this idea! With all that grows around us here in San Diego and across the US coasts, most of what we need to thrive is just steps away from our homes, grown close by in local fields... Think abundance!
- Many of us live in areas so close to farmer’s markets we don’t even have to turn the car on! Markets are generally held three to five days a week across San Diego county just walking or biking distance away from our front doors!
- Still not convinced? Then it’s time for you to try a CSA. Earlier this month Juli wrote about her positive experience with the local San Diego company, Specialty Produce. Here she was able to draw on locally grown produce to make her Kookie Karma products a truly local creation. If you aren’t familiar with community supported agriculture, check out my article here and hook up with one in your area. CSAs deliver a box chock full of produce from local farms to your community. Not only will you save your family a ton of dough, you’ll also be putting money back into the local economy!
Myth 2 (This myth is from new parents I consult to). Organic baby food is simply too expensive. My kid is just going to have to settle on the jarred stuff.
No way! Not only will your new bundle of joy get a kick-start on a healthy pesticide-free diet, it’s actually less expensive to make your own organic baby-food than buy it off the store shelves! An average of $600 dollars can be saved a year by making your own baby-food. If you decide to get your produce through a CSA or at a local farmer’s market, the savings will be even more! Juli even has a personally created baby formula recipe you can check out here.
PM: What if folks don't have time for all of that? Another common myth that I tend to hear is that health food is designer food and families want to know, who can afford designer prices?
CD: If you want to drive down the cost of food prices, then your shopping habits might need a make-over in general. I won’t name names, but you know who those big chain-food stores are. Most of the food on their shelves is either packaged in some far-off land or mass-produced in big factories only to have it shipped across the world before getting into your hands. Who do you think pays for that? You do!
Shopping at and supporting regional food markets is too easy and practical not to do it. Conscious consumerism will surely make your wallet fatter while offering symbolic lessons to help shape your children’s spending too!
Here’s a few thoughts that might help yours shift:
- While it's true that packaged foods are generally pricier than those made in your own kitchen, purchasing according to a seasonal calender can save over $500 per year!
- Talk to your neighbors. Chances are, they’re striving to make their dollars stretch too! Instead of putting your money toward small packaged portions of meat, get together on a side of beef or several chickens to split the cost. You’ll end up with more meat, will have supported a local farmer and get a chance to share more ideas like this with your neighbor!
- Bring your own bag the next time you shop! Think those bags you get at the grocery store are bad for the environment? You’re right! They also aren’t so hot for your wallet either. The cost of your food is driven up by the massive quantities of bags produced each year to lug your stuff home.
- Here’s a few more tips on saving money at the register and becoming a socially conscious shopper!
PM: Thanks Christine. Can’t wait until more food for thought! You're amazing and so is all that you're doing!
Author note: Savings are a calculated average based on the author’s own personal experience and survey of local research.
Christine is an integrative heatlh care specialist, medical journalist, food writer and business development consultant. Popularized by health care professionals and patients alike, her blog, Reaching Beyond Now features a socially conscious take on integrative medicine and the future of lifestyle design. Christine loves teaching people and families how to sustainably design health through food. Check out her latest endeavor, Garden Eats to learn more about seasonal kitchen gardening and medicinal culinary therapy.
Follow Christine at twitter here!
Great post! I also suggest to my clients that they consider Baby-Led Weaning (or BLW) when introducing solids. This means you don't have to spend time making purees for your baby - they just eat the same wholesome foods you do and learn to enjoy the different tastes and textures of whole foods in their whole states. It also promotes the family meal, a concept too many people have gotten away from...
I'm seeing the concept of the family meal making a come back! More and more as families re-introduce their kids to farmer's markets and kitchen participation, they get to experience the magic that can be created from family meal-time!
hmmmm, i need to look into this stuff a little more. i like the idea. thanks for comments.
Thanks Chris! You've been telling me for years how the more we all invest in healthy and informed food purchases, the more these items will out-bid shelf space and become less $ as well, even in the big market chains. Not to mention of course the long term personal health benefit, as you mentioned, which for me is the best investment of all.
Great post, hit the nail with the "real cost" of eating "cheap".
Thanks Daniela and everyone for the great comments! Special thanks to Juli for having me. Another fun way to get your kids involved is by giving them $5-10 at the farmer's market that they can spend on trying new veggies and fruit. Later at home, have the kids suggest a new recipe to incorporate their newly discovered produce. Kids love this stuff and it's super cool to see what they'll create in the kitchen! ... Just think, this is how traditions are started in families!
thanks to ALL of you guys!!! for all your comments and help and love!
I love the idea of giving kids $$ at the farmer's market to pick their own veggies and fruit. They feel involved and become more interested in healthy eating.