If there’s one thing that really gotten under our skin lately, it’s the recurring theme in the media that consumers are turning to fast food during the recession because it’s all they can afford. In reality, there are plenty of options for cheap and healthy food at the supermarket, as the Associated Press reports today. Kind of takes the wind out of the food police’s sails, doesn’t it?
University of Washington researcher Dr. Adam Drewnowski analyzed the health benefits and affordability of hundreds of grocery items for a new report. His findings?
"Milk is off the charts," Drewnowski says, especially if people choose low-fat versions over sugar-packed, no-nutrient colas. "It won’t be spinach and arugula and poached salmon. It’ll be potatoes and beans and (lean) ground beef and milk and yogurt."
On his list, carrots trump peppers, and apples trump strawberries, as cheaper and longer-lasting. Canned tomatoes pack even more of the nutrient lycopene than pricier fresh ones. Canned or frozen corn kernels mean no paying for the cob.
Somewhere between expensive salmon and cheap bacon comes lean hamburger — just drain it well — and chicken that can be quick-cooked many ways besides artery-clogging deep-fried.
Then there’s the potato, maligned by the anti-carb movement. It actually has more potassium than a banana, fiber and even vitamin C.
The grocery list for pantry staples shouldn’t stop there. As we’ve mentioned before, rice and beans provide the basis for many healthy meals and amount to pennies per ounce. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own analysis found that buying a four pound chicken, a pound of lettuce, a pound of potatoes, and a pound of oranges at a typical supermarket would set you back only about $6. That’s more food for less money than the average family meal out at a burger joint.
So it couldn’t be that when people indulge in fast food, it’s because they actually like the taste of their value meals, right?