Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Junk Food Cheaper Than Healthy Food? MYTH!

As heard this morning on CJOB with Chris Reid on the Weekend Wakeup Show

Looking through this mornings supermarket flyers I converted sale prices of various foods to $ per kilogram or Litre to get a straight price comparison..

Oatmeal                                  $2.59/ kg
Name brand potato chips        $9.84/ kg
No Name potato chips            $6.66/ kg
Yams                                      $1.50/ kg
Tortilla chips                          $10.70/ kg
Apples                                    $1.46 - $2.18/ kg
Oranges                                  $0.61/ kg
Sugary cereal                          $6.82/ kg
Whole wheat cereal                $4.01/ kg
Chocolate bars                        $12.71/ kg
Brand name grain/ nut bars     $16.66/ kg
No name Granola bars           $7.37/ kg
Salad in bag                            $5.48/ kg
Bakery cake                            $5.03/ kg
Cookies                                   $7.73/ kg
Packaged cakes and rolls        $8.83/ kg
Whole wheat bread                 $2.92/ kg
Specialty "healthy" bread        $4.83/ kg
Canned beans and pasta          $1.93/ kg
Quick rice packages                $7.10/ kg
Fruit Yogurt                             $1.92/ kg
Canned tuna                             $7.35/ kg
Frozen Pizza                            $5.55/ kg
Orange juice                            $1.50/ Litre/ kg
No Name cola                          $0.45/ Litre/ kg
Skim milk                                 $1.16/ Litre/ kg
Banana's                                   $1.52/ kg
Blueberries                                $8.28/kg
Broccoli                                    $3.29/kg

Nearly all the healthier choices here are either significantly cheaper than the less healthy choices, or very similar in price.

Comparing the nutrient density of baked yam and plain potato chips and you can see that both are fairly nutritious, with the potato chips beating out the yam on several nutrients.  Woo hoo! Let's get at those potato chips and forget about those damn yams!  Ok.. But the potato chips are also a lot higher in a couple other factors.. sodium: Chips- 525 mg/ 100g.. Yam 8mg/ 100g.  Calories: Chips- 547/ 100g.. Yam 116/ 100/ g.  So why do potato chips have more vitamins and minerals compared to yams?  What gives?

Actually, per gram of dry weight, the yams are better, hugely significantly better, by about 300%.  Read the nutritional break down.  100 grams of baked yam has 70.1g of water.  Potato chips have 2.3g of water per 100 gram serving.  The process of making chips is more dehydrating than baking a yam (or potato).

Hmmm.. so if almost all the water is dehydrated making potato chips, but the nutrient density is still similar, how does that work?  An important question you might not think to ask.  Taking away all that water should result in the grams of nutrients being around 300% more in the chips, if all you did was bake potato slices until mostly dry, but chips are 20 to 50% (not 300%) more nutrient dense when looking at vitamin C, potassium and the like.

The missing grams of nutrients are replaced by fat, sugar, and salt, that's why the calories and sodium are so high in the chips.  Chips are made essentially by dehydrating potato slices and adding a lot of fat, salt and other flavouring.

The calorie cost of potato chips is far higher than from a potato.. you have to eat over 300% more calories and 700% more sodium to get at those vitamins.. not worth the trade off.

No name cola is a little less than 1/3 the cost of orange juice, but the orange juice is significantly more nutrient dense.. you get absolutely no vitamins and minerals with cola (ok I'm exaggerating a bit there, you get a trace amount), but the orange juice has lot's of vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

The grain and nut bars marketed as being uber healthy were more costly than chocolate bars, but the chocolate bars were amongst the most expensive items here. No name granola bars where cheaper than chocolate bars.  Read the labels for sure, but wise shopping will find granola bars are more nutrient dense than chocolate bars.. but do read the label.. easy to get a fatty granola bar.

Think that specialty "healthy" bread is way too costly because it's 2X the cost of regular whole wheat bread?  "I'm not buying that!  That's a rip off!  Hmmm... where's them potato chips."

Those potato chips are 35 to 50% more costly than that specialty health bread.

The potato chips are justified as inexpensive, quick, great tasting food.

The healthy bread is perceived as a rip off.

I don't know.. kinda looks the other way around to me.. according to the actual price and the amount of vitamins and minerals you get out of each.

Someone is buying this healthy stuff though, otherwise it wouldn't be on the shelf.  Yeah, heh, heh.. it's those granola hippies.. they'll buy anything... weird.  Maybe, but looking at the actual cost and nutrient density comparisons, it might seem a little weird to buy food that costs twice as much and has less than half the vitamins and minerals.

If we can get passed the urban myth that junk food is cheaper than healthy food, and that junk food is more tasty, it's easy to instantly realize that fruit yogurt at $1.92/ kg is far cheaper than cookies at $7.73/ kg.. both taste good, and one is better for you.

So tell me.. after eating something that we know isn't the greatest for us.. how do we feel?  How many either try to either ignore it, or find themselves feeling regretful?

And when we eat something that tastes great and is healthy, do people feel the same regret?

... healthy food, most of the time, is cheaper than junk food, is accessible, and easy to prepare/ consume, and you don't feel buyers remorse afterwards.

Get passed the old stereotypes and get into healthy eating, it's cheaper, tastes great, can make you healthier and feel better.  You brain will work better, you'll sleep better, and you'll have more energy.

Almost seems to good to be true, but.. it is true :-)

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