Eating healthy foods is crucial for many Americans and for different reasons. Some people require a well-balanced diet for helath-related reasons- for example, they may be trying to decrease blood pressure or cholesterol levels. Others may be trying to eat healthy foods because they watn to embrace a generally healthy lifestyle and diet is a major part of that. The sad truth is, many people cannot afford/ cannot access nourishing food options such as produce.
On average, it costs much less to eat unhealthy foods than it does to consume healthy foods. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, a healthy and balanced diet is one that includes the following components: a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat diary (a.k.a milk, yogurt, and cheese), oils, and a variety of protein (i.e. seafood, lean meats, eggs, etc.) By definition, an unhealthy diet is one that is missing the key constituents of a healthy and balanced diet. Specifically, unhealthy foods tend to contain a large amount of saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and sodium. A comprehensive review of 27 studies in 10 different countries showed that adopting healthy eating habits cost approximately $1.50 more than pursuing healthy eating habits. $1.50 may not seem like a large amount at first, but it can easily add up to hundreds of dollars when looked at on a larger scale.
Because of the price gap between purchasing healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods, it is easy to see why someone would be more inclined to purchase an inexpensive soda or candy bar instead of an apple or a head of lettuce. In this way, convenience stores are cheating their customers by making it easier to choose the unhealthy option. However, this is not doing any favors for anyone's health in the long run. Because someone can't afford produce, they could settle for a less healthy option because it is the most convenient option or the ONLY option. This could become a habit and serve to have detrimental health effects later down the road for that individual. Simply, the most convenient option is not always the most worthwhile or beneficial one.
Although the high price of produce is a major inconvenience to many people, there are ways to combat the issue and therefore help people pursue a healthy lifestyle. For example, try buying frozen fruits and vegetables. They still retain all of the nutritional value as non-frozen fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they can save a family/ individual money. Because they are frozen and will not spoil as quickly as regular fruits, they will give a family/ individual more time to consume them. More time to consume the produce means that they will last longer and you will not have to take as many trips to the grocery store.
In my opinion, no individual should ever have to compromise their health because of the price of food. As a society, we should always work to equalize the price of goods so that everyone can have equal access to the food that they want to consume instead of being pressured into buying a certain type of good because it is cheaper. The high price of produce is certainly an issue that should be addressed and fought against.