Eating healthy in the United States isn’t cheap. The cost of farm-fresh vegetables and fruits is so high that buying takeouts and McDonald’s is the economically sound option. And the majority of the population’s diet is loaded with processed foods that the connection between diet and overall health is often missed.
If you visit an American supermarket’s grocery aisle, you’ll find stacks of Vietnamese dragonfruit, Indian mangoes, juicy kiwis, and spicy peppers from Peru lined up. The nation is a clear importer of international produce, and this brings up the cost of fresh fruit. No wonder eating healthy is expensive!
And if you look at the data, almost 40% of the produce is wasted and going to landfills. Even the rich don’t eat healthily, so change might seem impossible at first glance. But what if the prices could be lowered and eating healthy was made affordable?
Would people buy more and start making healthier decisions if it didn’t put a dent in their wallets? Absolutely.
Taking A Look At The Pricing
A pound of fresh watermelon in the U.S. costs 72 cents while prunes cost upwards of $3! Blueberries cost $3.94 per pound, while the weighted average for fresh fruit was $0.71. According to a study, grapes, bananas, and melons were the most affordable from the list. The weighted average for fresh vegetables was around $0.64 per pound, and prices varied wildly between fresh and canned produce.
Researchers from the American Heart Association at an epidemiology meeting in Phoenix agreed that lowering the prices of fruits and vegetables by up to 30% could save more than 200,000 lives and cut down healthcare costs in a matter of 15 years.
Although traditional campaigns that encourage people to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables are okay, it’s a lot more effective to reduce overall prices.
It may come as a surprise, but fruit and vegetable produce is lost due to theft every year when trucks and vehicles import them. Sometimes vehicles may be stolen during the journey, or a robbery could take place. If you’re the importer/buyer, this could mean bad news and lead to losses.
The costs spent on recovering lost goods could be used for lowering the prices of fruits and vegetables if measures to prevent truck theft were put in place.
Using equipment tracking apps and fleet management software is a good way to track stolen vehicles down. Also, optimizing deliveries for customers by setting custom routes for quicker navigation of vehicles could reduce the time taken for shipping the produce. You can read more at Samsara.com on vehicle and equipment tracking devices along with guides on how to use them. There’s a lot of info on their blog and website about this.
Crafting Policies For The Public
Low-income households and neighborhoods with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables face difficulties in affording and making healthy meals. Research that analyzed the U.S. IMPACT Food Policy Model forecasted demographics and projected death rates by 2030 based on current consumer eating behaviors and shopping patterns.
According to research done by Friedman School of Nutrition Science, nutritionists agreed that crafting policies that favored healthy dietary patterns that increased intake of fruits and vegetables would lower the rates for heart disease and stroke. Even a 10% reduction in the prices of fresh produce would make a huge impact on the public healthcare system and save lives. Farmers incur marginal costs when shipping produce through a mediator. If more and more people bought directly from farmers instead of going through an intermediary, it would be profitable to them and also end up reducing costs.
For families who are trying to cut down their expenses on eating healthy, the first step to lowering the cost of fruit and vegetable produce is to eat local. Seasonal fruits are just as healthy and nutritionally sound choices. For vegetables, sticking to more traditional options like celery stalks, carrots, onions, parsnips, herbs, and radishes will help in saving money.
Another way to eat healthily is to stock up on freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. These have longer shelf lives, and the technology used keeps the nutrition intact. It’s the perfect alternative for families who can’t afford to store fruits and vegetables for longer than a week but still want access to them. To cut down on produce waste, freeze unused portions of fruit and vegetable for later use.
These can be later used in stocks, soups, and broths. Instead of buying canned chickpeas, soak fresh chickpeas overnight and blend them with herbs and ripe tomatoes to make your own sauces. When you’re shopping for produce, visit farmers’ interacts and interact with farmers directly. You can negotiate prices and buy in bulk, thus helping you cut down on costs.
Although it’s true that healthcare policies and amendments in the agriculture industry will lead to a positive impact on the prices of fresh produce, the first step worth taking is putting in a conscious effort to eating healthily as consumers. This will go a long way towards slashing prices, and as more and more people catch on to what you’re doing, word will spread, and discussions in circles will follow. After all, that’s how change works on a global scale – there must be mass effort and demand.
Ultimately, bringing down the cost of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. will hinge on the collective efforts of the public, farmers, and food supplying corporations. If people start making more conscious decisions and healthier choices on the table, the demand for fresh produce will go up.
With time, the prices will slash, and healthcare costs will come down. Although it sounds easy, it’s not. But it is a good starting point, and discussions will follow when customers start voicing their concerns and wants. For now, we will have to wait and do our best in getting creative with our meals, eating fresh, and avoiding takeouts or processed foods.