Food Check-Out Week Spotlights Healthy Eating on a Budget

February 17, 2011

Concern about the cost of a healthy diet being out of reach remains on the minds of many Americans as the nation continues to work through serious economic woes. However, according to an Agriculture Department study, the cost of eating healthy hasn't changed as much as some less-healthy alternatives. Eating healthy food while on a budget does require strategic shopping.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week, February 20-26, focuses on helping Americans learn how to stretch their grocery dollars with healthy, nutritious food. America's farmers and ranchers are committed to producing safe, healthy and abundant food. And they share a common concern with consumers when it comes to putting nutritious meals on the table while sticking to a tight budget.

The good news: a recent USDA report favorably supports the economics of healthier eating. Recent food price data show that prices for unprepared, readily available fresh fruits and vegetables have remained stable relative to dessert and snack foods, such as chips, ice cream, and cola. Therefore, as defined by food in the study, the price of a "healthier" diet has not changed compared to an "unhealthy" diet. Additionally, certain fresh fruits and vegetables have actually gone down in price over the last 25 years compared to the more expensive processed foods.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week is aimed at helping DeKalb County families learn how to shop strategically to put nutritious meals on the table with fewer dollars."Learning to use your grocery dollars wisely helps ensure that nutrition isn't neglected," according to April Martin, DeKalb Extension FCS Agent.

"Fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, are an important part of a healthy diet. Buying fresh produce when it's in season and costs less, while buying frozen fruits and vegetables when they're not in season, is a smart way to stretch that dollar," said Mary Sanders, DeKalb County's TNCEP program assistant.

"Knowing your food budget, planning balanced meals, making a list and sticking to it are just a few of the tips we offer consumers," said Sanders.

Now in its 13th year, Food Check-Out Week also highlights America's safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, made possible largely by America's productive farmers and ranchers. According to the most recent information from the USDA's Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10% of their disposable personal income for food.

You'll find posters in some of our local stores that were made by senior high 4-Hers as a service to the community. If you need additional information on budgeting your food dollars, contact us.

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