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Why Salads Are More Expensive Than Hamburgers

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posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 04:56 PM

We’ve got a lot of problems when it comes to our food system, but one of them was clearly articulated with a simple graphic. How do food subsidies affect what we’re eating? Check this out...

This graphic was recently published by the Consumerist, with the few words, “This is why you’re fat.”

The New York Times had a little bit more to say about the graphic, which by the way was put together by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The Times says:

Thanks to lobbying, Congress chooses to subsidize foods that we’re supposed to eat less of.

Of course, there are surely other reasons why burgers are cheaper than salads. These might include production costs, since harvesting apples is probably more naturally seasonal than slaughtering cows (even though both are in demand year-round). Transportation and storage costs might also play a role, as it’s probably easier to keep ground beef fresh and edible for extended periods of time, by freezing it, than cucumbers.

Interesting analysis, but it’s missing the heart of the matter, which PCRM lays out on their own website — the legislation which governs all these subsidies is the controversial farm bill. “The bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to huge agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals,” PCRM writes. “By funding these crops, the government supports the production of meat and dairy products–the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.”

What would our society look like if fruit and vegetable products received more of the cut? I’m reminded of the scene from the Oscar-nominated film Food Inc., where a lower-income family grapples with the issue of spending what little money they have on fast food burgers because it is cheaper and more filling than buying fresh vegetables but knowing that they’ll end up likely spending even more down the line in health costs. That’s a decision that no family should have to make.



It’s a fairly striking pattern. Unhealthful foods, with the exceptions of cookies (the blue line), have gotten a lot cheaper. Relative to the price of everything else in the economy, sodas (the orange line) are 33 percent cheaper than they were in 1978. Butter (dark brown) is 29 percent cheaper. Beer (gray) is 15 percent cheaper.

Fish (the yellow line), by contrast, is 2 percent more expensive. Vegetables (purple) are 41 percent more expensive. Fruits (green) are 46 percent more expensive.

The price of oranges, to take one extreme example (not shown in the chart), has more than doubled, relative to everything else. So if in 1978, a bag of oranges cost the same as one big bottle of soda, today that bag costs the same as three big bottles of soda.

Obesity is a killer. It's as simple as that.

There has been a new food culture emerging in the past 20 something years where we humans are literally eating ourselves to death. And yet healthy foods that we should be eating more of become more and more expensive. Why would you buy a packet of vegetables when a few microwave meals cost just the same? The truth is they wouldn't, and in this ever pressing financial climate who could blame them?

And although governments consistently state that they have recognised and are dealing with the problem the reality seems to be that they are not - simple statistics show this.

I believe this topic is already one of the most important struggles we face today and it's only going to get worse.

But consumers who would like to be able to buy local fruits and vegetables not just at farmers’ markets, but also in the produce aisle of their supermarket, will be dismayed to learn that the federal government works deliberately and forcefully to prevent the local food movement from expanding. And the barriers that the United States Department of Agriculture has put in place will be extended when the farm bill that House and Senate negotiators are working on now goes into effect.



posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 05:13 PM
I think you are right in your assessment, LiveForever8. To add to this, I think the government wants us to be fat, sickly, and miserable. An out of shape and foggy-minded group of people is in no position to think for themselves, much less rebel. That, and we are stricken with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other side effects of our "food" and are forced to rely on the new Obamacare.

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 05:19 PM
Thanks for this very informative thread.
You are spot on I regularly eat junk food when Iam on the go as I see $5 for junk as opposed to $8 for healthy, and I go junk and fast.
The food suppliers I guess see the poor as peasants like in the old days where gruel was fed to the working poor.
Education is the key as you have provided here.

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 05:19 PM
People could always eat less and actually learn how to cook with ingredients so they can use them more efficiently. I don't buy the argument when it comes to fast food vs fresh ingredients, there are always ways around the cost in my experience.

[edit on 3-6-2010 by Solomons]

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 05:28 PM
It is mechanization and processing that make these "Processed" foods cheaper , in volume.

The same applies to any and everything that is produced whether it be potato chips, computer chips or cars.

You can process a hamburger patty, and freeze it forever.
When was the last time McDonalds provided a "Fresh Till" date on your Big Mac ?

They cannot freeze lettuce and store it away in a warehouse forever as they can with the hamburger patties.

Vegetables and produce, on the other hand, being a product of nature cannot be cost reduced simply as a result of more efficient processing. Simply because nature requires time (water, nutrients and sunlight) in order for it to grow.

Thats why the burger costs less than the produce.

And also why your car is affordable due to it not being hand built, but built on an assembly line, thus reducing it's cost.

[edit on 3-6-2010 by nh_ee]

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 05:35 PM

Originally posted by nh_ee

It is mechanization and processing that make these "Processed" foods cheaper , in volume.

Very true. And if these processed "foods" are almost cheaper than the raw materials, once markup for profit is considered, then that says a lot about the quality (or lack thereof) of this "food".

Originally posted by nh_ee
You can process a hamburger patty, and freeze it forever.
When was the last time McDonalds provided a "Fresh Till" date on your Big Mac ?

And let us not forget the preservatives that can keep it that sickly gray-brown color for weeks once it is no longer frozen. Bleh!

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 06:06 PM
I have noticed that as soon as something is considered healthier, someone jacks up the price. I have noticed it with fruits, vitamins, whole grains, seeds, nuts, almost everything. Spaghetti is a good example. Less processed, whole grain, twice the price. Brown rice - twice the price as white. Unbleached toilet paper, more expensive. I remember them calling plums a super food, and the price doubled.

I do all my own cooking, so I can find ways to keep it cheap, but it does seem like someone does not want a healthy population. The statistics state that poor people are unhealthier, well no wonder!

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 06:39 PM

Last year, Midwestern lawmakers proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would provide some farmers, though only those who supply processors, with some relief from the penalties that I’ve faced — for example, a soybean farmer who wanted to grow tomatoes would give up his usual subsidy on those acres but suffer none of the other penalties.

However, the Congressional delegations from the big produce states made the death of what is known as Farm Flex their highest farm bill priority, and so it appears to be going nowhere, except perhaps as a tiny pilot program. Who pays the price for this senselessness?

Certainly I do, as a Midwestern vegetable farmer. But anyone trying to do what I do on, say, wheat acreage in the Dakotas, or rice acreage in Arkansas would face the same penalties. Local and regional fruit and vegetable production will languish anywhere that the commodity program has influence.

Ultimately of course, it is the consumer who will pay the greatest price for this — whether it is in the form of higher prices I will have to charge to absorb the government’s fines, or in the form of less access to the kind of fresh, local produce that the country is crying out for.

Farmers need the choice of what to plant on their farms, and consumers need more farms like mine producing high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables to meet increasing demand from local markets — without the federal government actively discouraging them.

Farmers are being stiffed.
Consumers are being stiffed.
Who is making all of the money here I wonder?

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 07:25 PM

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten

If you haven't seen it, make sure you do!

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 07:40 PM
Wow, you don't realise how out of balance diets have become in the modern age until it's laid out in front of you. Thank you, I have just been convinced to grow my own vegetables.

I usually find myself eating junk food out of habit more than neccesity, but those are the times where I find myself feeling depressed and run down. The lethargy only serves to make me not want to prepare a meal, but instead just throw something easy together, and easy is usually a microwavable by-product masquerading as meat.

I feel both physically and mentally sick of pandering to unhealthy food agencies, and it would be awesome if more people felt that way. In any case, it's first foot forward and out with the gardening tools for me.

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 07:47 PM
the waste and time, the packaging - the spoilage of unsold product.
it all adds up to most cost and less profit, but adds to customers overall satisfaction with the menu and its choices. i hope this answers your question.

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 07:53 PM
As a person with a history of family heart disease I find it incredible how much salt is added to processed food.
And trans fat is in almost everything when we read the small print eg butter,french fries,cakes ectect.
It would be great if a company sold foods where salt was replaced by garlic to make the food tasty but healthy?
Sodium they say is a killer in excess?

posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 03:18 AM
reply to post by Solomons

I agree that people should be more educated on how to use specific ingredients to make our food healthier. Food knowledge is important.

But there are not always ways around the cost. This is a typical example. Families that just bypass the fruit and veg isle because they cannot afford to pay the ridiculous prices, especially if they are having to pay medical bills (for problems brought on by a bad diet).

It can become a vicious circle.

posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 04:13 AM
Fattening us up for the aliens

posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 06:04 AM
reply to post by TheNewKid

There was actually a thread about that theory on here a while back

When a reptilian's gotta eat...

posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 06:26 AM
Once you have diabetes from there junk then they really have you.

On the whole low carb foods for a balanced diabetic diet cost you 3 to 6 times the cost for junk food.

Then there is the mislabeling of diabetic foods.

There are foods that are labeled for diabetes that are labeled sugar free.
they just replaced the sugar with starch and the carb count is even higher,

In you body the starch is changed to sugars and you might as well have just eaten the sugar loaded food.

Whole grain foods are supposed to be good for diabetics but many whole grain products are loaded with milled bleached white flour that is bad for diabetics.
You have to be very careful what is used to make the product not that they say whole grain.

A large number of products the only way to tell is to eat the product and do a finger stick blood sugar test two hour later.
If the test shows high sugar levels they lied.

[edit on 4-6-2010 by ANNED]

[edit on 4-6-2010 by ANNED]

[edit on 4-6-2010 by ANNED]

posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 07:28 AM
reply to post by ANNED

It's not just the long term side-effects of unhealthy foods but also the immediate threat of foodborne illness.

To better quantify the impact of foodborne diseases on health in the United States, we compiled and analyzed information from multiple surveillance systems and other sources. We estimate that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Known pathogens account for an estimated 14 million illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths. Three pathogens, Salmonella, Listeria, and Toxoplasma, are responsible for 1,500 deaths each year, more than 75% of those caused by known pathogens, while unknown agents account for the remaining 62 million illnesses, 265,000 hospitalizations, and 3,200 deaths. Overall, foodborne diseases appear to cause more illnesses but fewer deaths than previously estimated.

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

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