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Cut Calories and Cut the Price

First Lady Michelle Obama understands that fighting obesity requires a multi-faceted approach, which is why the Let's Move! initiative focuses on many ways to help children be healthy. How we shop at the grocery store can have a huge impact on our budget. That’s why one of the pillars of the Let’s Move! initiative is making sure that healthy foods are affordable and accessible. 

A commonly held belief is that eating healthy foods is more expensive than eating less healthy foods. But that depends on how you measure the cost of food, according to a new report published by USDA’s Economic Research Service. The researchers compared the price of food based on three different metrics: the price per calorie, the price per edible weight, and the price per average portion. They concluded that even though healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, and certain grains and dairy products, are more expensive when priced per calorie, they are less expensive than most protein foods and foods high in saturated fat, added sugar and/or sodium when food is priced by either edible weight or average portion. What this means is that healthy foods are not more expensive than unhealthy foods when comparing prices using an alternative measure to price per calorie.

This is great news! Most Americans far exceed their protein intake requirement and consume too much sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. This study shows that people can affordably fill up on vegetables, fruits, dairy, and grains. Reaching for a glass of low-fat milk helps people reach their daily calcium requirements, which are based on keeping our bones healthy so we can stay active. Munching on fruits and vegetables, which typically have more fiber and water, will make you feel full for longer. These colorful foods are not only jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, but also have fewer calories. Replacing high calorie foods with foods that are vitamin-rich and less calorically-dense, like fruits and vegetables, can help pave the way to weight loss and better health! 

To buy produce at the cheapest price, look for fruit and vegetables that are in season or on sale and buy frozen or low-sodium canned produce. You can also follow in the First Lady's footsteps and start a garden. Gardening is a great way to eat healthy and be active! Additionally, SNAP benefits are now accepted at farmers markets to purchase produce and can be used to buy seeds and plants which produce food for people to eat. 

People must have access to affordable foods that make up a well balanced diet. The good news is that when we reach for a snack, healthy foods can be cheaper than less healthy foods when it comes to weight and portion size. Go ahead, grab that banana!