Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?
The answer is NO.
The “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli …” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”
this bullshit fills me with a very specific kind of rage. so, TIME TO DEBUNK!
- that meal from mcdonalds takes virtually no time to acquire AND is available almost anywhere.
- the second meal? that “salad” is lettuce … with nothing else, not even dressing unless its just olive oil or some milk i guess? gross.
- also thats the price of each serving, not an entire loaf of bread, a bottle of olive oil, etc. that stuff adds up which means you have to have a lot of money at one time to buy it all.
- that meal probably took an hour and a half to make, which is a long fucking time when you work multiple jobs or are caring for a lot of people or dont have help! seriously, if you are a single parent of three who works, is spending an hour and a half every night preparing a meal a likely option?
- same with beans and rice! also, you know whats a fucking bummer? eating beans and rice every night because you are poor. ask any person who has done it and they will tell you (you can start with me).
- there is a “nutrition” argument here that lacks a follow up: poor people are more likely to be doing physical labor and need more than 571 calories per meal.
- you know who is less likely to know how to bake or prepare a chicken? people without access to the internet, or libraries, or who werent taught how to by their parents because their parents worked all the time. access to healthy foods is a classist issue and classism is cyclical, you fucking morons.
- seriously, these sorts of infographics make me want to fucking flip tables. do you know why people don’t eat more fresh fruits and vegetables? because fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, because they take a long time to prepare, because they dont live near a grocery store that has a decent produce section, because they dont have reliable transportation to get groceries to and from the grocery store, because they dont have the energy to plan all of the shit that is involved in making healthy, intentional, filling, balanced meals. basically: poor people get fucked, and then we get BLAMED for being lazy.
- eating “healthy”, aka access to fresh fruits and vegetables, is a privilege, first, foremost, always. so fuck you new york times and your ignorant goddamn infographic.
- there are SYSTEMATIC REASONS that we do not have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables. they are very REAL problems. besides, you know, systematic poverty in america, the total mis-distribution of farm subsidies is a perfect place to start. read about that, then either get bent or start working on the actual problem.
I just want to toss in that the cost of healthy food changes drastically depending on where you live, while fast food is generally in the same ballpark. Example: I used to live in a city where I could get a gallon of milk for $1.98. I’ve lived in several other places since then where a gallon of milk costs around $5. Meanwhile, the difference in cost of a Taco Bell bean burrito went from 79 cents to 89.
Also? Let’s just suppose that you had the time/energy to cook three healthy meals a day, spending at least an hour on each one, that works out to three hours a day. Seven days a week, that’s 21 hours; four weeks a month, that’s 84 hours. If you used those hours to make minimum wage instead, that’s, what, $588? THAT IS A SHIT TON OF MONEY WHEN YOU’RE POOR. That is RENT. That is the ELECTRIC BILL. That is GAS MONEY. Sometimes, you don’t have the luxury of choosing a baked potato over a value menu burger because the burger will cost you less where it counts and give you a tiny, TINY bit of wiggle room that you would not have had without that convenience, whether it’s in the form of time to work/pick up your kids/spend with your family/go to the doctor or a couple of dollars to put in your gas tank.
I got incredibly, stupidly lucky and got out of poverty just a couple of years ago after a lifetime in it and I just want to grab people who’ve never been poor and fucking shake them when they offer “helpful” shit like this. Unless you have been poor, you do not fucking understand the rock-and-a-hard-place choices and sacrifices that poor people are forced to make EVERY DAY just to get through to see tomorrow. Unless you have been poor, you do not understand how shitty and clueless and privileged this concern trolling shit is.