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Eating Healthy In A Time Of Recession

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The name of the game in tough economic times is to save money. But don’t throw your money in the trash and spend it on processed foods with no nutritional value.

Consider just how expensive some of that cheaper food really is. On the surface, a six-pack of soda or juice can run anywhere from 2 to 3 dollars (and if you buy name brand, it could be higher). And what are you getting for your money? Sugar, chemicals, and toxins.  Does it satisfy your thirst? Do you have to keep drinking more to feel satiated? If so, chances are you’ll buy more.

Soda healthy?

Many people become addicted to sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks, so they buy more to feed their addiction. And in the process, they are harming their health by continuing to consume these beverages which contribute to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Diabetes, and cancer. Is this really a good definition of saving money?

Bottled water

Water may or may not be cheaper, but it depends on what type of water you are buying. Most bottled waters are of questionable quality, and can leach BPA and other toxic chemicals from the plastic bottle. Find a good source of water at your local health food store that you can buy in your own refillable bottles or invest in a good filtration system for your sink or home. This will ensure you are getting better quality water and you are saving money from continually purchasing expensive bottled water that may or may not be good quality.

Your tap water is dangerous to drink and should be avoided. According to the Ralph Nader Research Institute, tap water contains over 2100 toxic chemicals.  Some of those are heavy metals like cadmium, iron, mercury, and lead. It also contains arsenic, fluoride and chlorine, proven in studies to be harmful to the human body. Finally, tap water that is filtered out by water reclamation sites does not get filtered for all the other substances that go down the drain – prescription medications that people take, pesticides, and many other toxic chemicals.

Boxed cereal

What about a box of processed cereal? A box of Cheerios will probably cost around $3, less if you buy the generic. If you buy whole, organic grains from the bulk section of your store, you will spend anywhere from around .75 to just over $2.00 a pound. But the whole grain cereal will last you longer because it is a real food and will deliver nutritional value to your body that the boxed doesn’t. Processed cereals contain extruded grains that the human body cannot absorb, and the nutrients are all stripped away during processing and then synthetic nutrients are added back in. Because this is not a real food, it is not useful to your body.

Commercial meat

The cost of buying commercial, industrial meat may be less on the package, but what are you getting for your money? Meat that is loaded with hormones, antibiotics, too many Omega 6s from the animals eating the wrong types of feed (corn, soy, grain), high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, and low in protein. Nutritional content in this type of meat is not only poor, but the chemicals contained in the meat help deplete your body of nutrients as well. Locally-raised, grass-fed meat, on the other hand, is high in protein, low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates, and is an excellent source of Omega 3 EFAs and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Grass-fed meats generally cost more, but they are nutritionally good for your body and can help prevent heart disease, Diabetes, and cancer.

What’s the cost of eating processed foods?

Then there’s the long-term effects and deferred costs of eating nutritionally-bankrupt foods. Weakened immune system. Frequent colds and flus. Headaches. Sore throats. Allergies. Asthma. Chronic fatigue. Depression. Insomnia. Anxiety attacks. Fluctuating blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance and Diabetes. Weight gain. Irritability. Heart disease. High blood pressure. Cancer. The list goes on.

So then: if you are buying cheaper foods, but they are not delivering nutritional quality to your body, is that a waste of money, or do you still persist in thinking you are saving yourself money by eating this way? Investing in your health and well-being doesn’t have to go beyond your budget, it just has to be planned out and managed well.

Here are some ideas for saving money on healthy food during a recession:

  1. Eat all or most of your meals at home. Food costs less and tastes better when you make it at home, and you have control over every single ingredient you use.
  2. Take small steps: if you can’t do it all at once, do one thing at a time. For example, eliminating vegetable oils from your pantry is a great first start. Replace those with real butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. Here’s a great guest post by Marilyn Moll from The Urban Homemaker about how to replace unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones.
  3. If you do shop at the store, buy the most minimally processed and whole foods only. Avoid purchasing foods in packages, cans, and boxes.
  4. Eat some meals meatless and/or spread your meat out amongst several meals. Use foods like cheese, milk, eggs, butter, broth, lard and tallow from healthy animals on pasture as your main source of fat in some meals.
  5. Learn to make food from scratch rather than buying convenience foods: salad dressings, marinades, beans, soups, etc. A great place to start is Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, which has a huge variety of recipes for preparing foods traditionally and healthfully, as many of our ancestors did.
  6. Buy from farmer’s markets and local food growers. You will be supporting your local economy and you can often get foods for reasonable prices because you are not paying for packaging, marketing, processing, and transportation of your food.
  7. Become interested in and learn to grow, can, jar, cook, freeze, and sprout, soak, culture and prepare foods at home. The more you do these types of things, the further your food will stretch. You will save money and your health.
  8. Be willing to do without extras and make healthy eating a priority. Instead of going to the movies, invite friends over to watch something at your house and make home-made organic popcorn with butter or ghee and coconut oil.  Instead of going out to dinner, prepare a special meal at home for a loved one or friend.
  9. Use up all your food at home before buying more. If you plan meals and ingredients, you can make food last longer.
  10. Plan shopping and pick-up trips. Make a list before you go, and stick to it.  If you are buying foods from the store, use your trips wisely. If you are buying from farmers, see if you can find others who also want to buy food from the same source such as a CSA (community supported agriculture share) and take turns delivering/picking up food.
  11. Use networking in your area to find new resources for healthy food. Talk to neighbors and folks at the farmer’s markets and local health food stores. Attend events where local, sustainable food is being served. Look in your local paper and also do an Internet search for a list of resources and activities centered around local food and food growers. Check this list to find a local Weston A. Price chapter in your area – WAPF is dedicated to helping people learn about sustainable farming and food, and the value of nutrient-dense diets.
  12. Take time out to grow food in your own yard or space. Be sure to use organic fertilizers when you plant so that the nutritional content and disease resistance of the food you plant is higher.

Want more information on eating healthy for less?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of cheap food

1 in 4 meat packages tainted with pathogenic bacteria

Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit this site and read the other real food posts there.