Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More A La Cart

The City Room posted a story on the carting legislation, and the myth making continues- "...and fresh food is less accessible in low-income neighborhoods." Jennifer Lee's story does, however bring out a very interesting point, one that policy makers need to heed: healthier food costs more, something that the NY Times reported on a few weeks ago.

The Times story told us: "Healthy eating really does cost more. That’s what University of Washington researchers found when they compared the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area. Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices also are less likely to rise as a result of inflation." So we're not only facing a demand problem, but an income one as well.

The folks in low income areas need to find ways to stretch their food dollars, and they can't do this in a healthy way: "The survey found that higher-calorie, energy-dense foods are the better bargain for cash-strapped shoppers. Energy-dense munchies cost on average $1.76 per 1,000 calories, compared with $18.16 per 1,000 calories for low-energy but nutritious foods." With no food subsidies here, how will the peddler proliferation have its intended healthy impact?

The professor who did the University of Washington deserves the last word, and it's really food for thought: "If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar,’’ said Dr. Drewnowski. “Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods.”