We wrote a while back about the problem of “calorie density“—namely, that junk foods filled with fats and sugars are way, way cheaper than healthier foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. And, depressingly enough, the price gap between healthy and unhealthy foods widened in the 1980’s and 1990s.
So even though it’s technically true that food in America is cheap, healthy food is effectively out of financial reach of many low-income folks. (In some cases, healthy food is physically out of reach too.)
Well, apparently the problem is getting even worse.
The first-of-its-kind study by UW researchers found that between 2004 and 2006, the costs of some healthy foods went up nearly 20 percent at major Seattle supermarkets. But over the same period, the cost of some junk foods dropped.
“Healthy foods are gradually slipping out of reach for all but the affluent consumers,” said Adam Drewnowski, director of the University of Washington Center for Public Health and Nutrition and an author of the study.
Jeez, what’s it going to take to bring some justice—or just plain old sanity—to the food system?
Have you seen this graphic stacking government subsidies of different kinds of food up next to the food guide pyramid? The comments on that post are pretty interesting as well.
Nice find—I hadn’t seen that. Youch. It certainly makes some things clear, no?
Unfortunately, that graphic doesn’t “make things clear”. I don’t disagree that the subsidies are problematic and misaligned with health goals, but that particular graphic is a good example of using graphs to mislead. No source is given, for one thing. But, worst, the apparent difference between the subsidies is exaggerated by the use of the three-dimensional pyramid. For example, although the sugar, oil, starch, alcohol subsidy is just slightly less than 25% greater than the grains subsidy, because of the apparent volume, the grain subsidy appears to be about 4 times the sugar, oil, starch, alcohol subsidy. The apparent difference between the meat and dairy subsidy and the grain subsidy, which by the numbers is roughly 5.5:1, is even more wildly distorted by the apparent volume. Using graphs to distort information this way is misleading and irresponsible, and detracts from the underlying (valid) point that the subsidies are misaligned with health goals (and, I might add, environmental goals). A linear graph would not have been so dramatic, but it would have been more accurate.
Oops. I should have proofread my post—apologies. The first example should have read:”although the sugar, oil, starch, alcohol subsidy is just about 25% less than the grains subsidy…”