Well, I'm not alone. I saw this post on the Huffington Post and thought it was worth noting.
Like me, the author blasts the "too poor to be thin" meme as nothing but an urban myth, saying:
Like everyone else, I had heard innumerable times that "more nutritious food costs more," but was never very impressed with the data given to support the claim. So my colleagues and I generated some. We designed a simple experiment: we gave a volunteer shopper criteria for more and less nutritious foods, and had her pick examples of both from multiple food categories. We paid the grocery bill, so she didn't need to worry about prices. We then compared the cost of more and less nutritious foods, category by category, from soup to nuts (well, soda to snacks, anyway). We found no difference. In almost every aisle of almost every supermarket, it's possible to trade up nutrition substantially without spending more money.
So why don't people routinely do so? Cluelessness. I don't mean that as an insult -- I mean literal lack of the clues required to identify the more nutritious foods that don't cost more!He also brings up the health care cost issue as I did:
Next, there's tunnel vision. We think of the costs of food as if money spent on food has no impact on any other money we spend or make. This is certifiable nonsense. The personal costs of eating badly are enormous: ill health, obesity, high medical bills, absenteeism, presenteeism, lower income. Economists routinely think in terms of "externalities" -- the costs or savings associated with a choice that don't show up on the price tag per se. When thinking about the true costs of our food choices, we would be well advised to do likewise. Eating well is an investment in health, and health provides rich returns in both human potential and dollars.Finally, he brings up what I always say, the focus is too much on quantity of food, not quality. After all, isn't it patently obvious that someone weighing 300 pounds is just eating way too much? Here's what he says:
Lastly, there is a cultural anachronism. Think, for a minute, about how you measure food value. If you are like most people, it's simple: more is better. The all-you-can-eat-buffet exemplifies this attitude, as does "super-sizing."I like this guy's thinking. Like me, he doesn't give in to the meme, he challenges it. To say the poor have no choice, is to give them no hope, and when you have no hope, you don't try.
But is more really better? In an age of epidemic obesity, does more food -- and more calories -- per dollar spent really constitute a bargain? Is it ever a bargain to get more of what you already have too much of?
Throughout most of human history, calories were relatively scarce and hard to get, and physical activity was unavoidable. It was in this context that more food, more calories per unit "expense" (dollars, effort, risk etc.) became the prevailing measure of food value.
But we now live in a modern world where physical activity is scarce and calories are unavoidable. Being poor actually increases the risk of obesity! Increasing our chances of getting fat and sick at no extra charge doesn't exactly sound like a bargain. Getting more food at low cost and then spending a fortune to lose the weight we gained for free does not redound to the credit of our bank account, or common sense. Calories per dollar as a measure of food value is a cultural anachronism. It's long past time to think of nutrition per dollar -- or vitality conferred per dollar -- as a new-age measure of the value of food. On such a scale, even fresh produce is far more economical than we tend to think.
I say, that no matter what the budget, it is possible to eat healthy and be thin. As the author of this blog acknowledges, but doesn't state clearly, it's just a matter of learning HOW to do so.
Also, like me, he argues that one of the primary problems is not WHAT the poor eat but HOW MUCH they eat. We are now living in an age of cheap food, and cheap calories, but the "more is better food-wise" still holds a lot of sway. The more food and calories a dollar buys is primary, and more important than the inherent nutritional quality of the food.
Instead of "more is better" the poor should be taught that their their food dollars are best spent on better quality, not better quantity.