'Healthy Diet' Still Cost Effective Despite Inflation

Assessment drawn from Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week.

Published on: Mar 10, 2011

The nation continues to suffer under economic difficulties but a healthy diet remains affordable. That is the assessment of the South Carolina Farm Bureau, coming off Food Check-Out Week, Feb. 20-26.

The Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week highlights the day, typically about 35 days into the year, when Americans on average have earned enough disposable income to pay for all the food they eat for the year. The organization points out those American families still average spending less than 10% of their disposable personal income for food during the year.

Overall, 2011 looks to be a problematic year for U.S. food prices, however. The 'Changes in Food Price Index,' a US Department of Agriculture report released Feb. 24, forecasts 'All Food' prices will go up 3%-4% this year. For comparison, in 2010 All Food prices increased 0.8% and in 2009, the comparable statistic went up just 1.8%. In 2008, when agricultural commodity prices soared much like they are forecast to soar this year, the All Food index went up 5.5%.

The silver lining according to the S.C. Farm Bureau, however, is that recent USDA food price data notes that "healthy foods" like fresh fruits and vegetables have remained stable in price when compared to dessert and snack foods like chips, ice cream and cola. "Therefore, as defined by foods in the study," notes a Farm Bureau press release, "the price of a 'healthier' diet has not changed compared to an unhealthy diet."

Food Check-Out Week also focuses on helping educate people on healthy diets.

"Learning to use your grocery dollars wisely helps ensure that nutrition isn't neglected," says Frances Price, S.C. Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee Chair. "Fruits and vegetables—along with whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs and nuts—are an important part of a healthy diet. Buying fresh produce when it's in season and costs less, while buying frozen fruits and vegetables when they're not in season, is a smart way to stretch that dollar."

The national Food Check-Out Week concept was initially conceived from ideas generated by South Carolina Farm Bureau members. Read more about the S.C. Farm Bureau and about the Food Check Out Week by linking to the press release at http://agriculture.sc.gov/content.aspx?ContentID=456.