Good food is more expensive than you think

… and much more difficult for low-income people to actually use. This fantastic post by Wiley Reading of Everyday Feminism explores why it really is impossible for those living below the poverty line to purchase the USDA recommended fruits and vegetables in the quantities they need to satisfy hungry children. Among the reasons:

1. People living in homeless shelter or group homes often do not have places to store or prepare food. So no fridge, freezer, pots, pans, blender, even ziplock baggies. Fresh veggies spoil quickly – so aren’t worth buying, since bulk is much cheaper and bulk is impossible.

2. Grocery stores can be hard to get to, especially if you live in a food desert. Add to that long work hours and reliance on public transit, and it’s clear that a simple errand like going grocery shopping can seem a herculean task.

3. Low literacy, and low or no food literacy, makes grocery shopping frustrating. Nutrition labels are undecipherable at times to even the most educated, so how do you compare nutrition facts and price points when you can’t read? Or when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be looking for? How do you keep up with the frequently-changing food advice?

4. Non-nutritional foods, such as corn and soybeans, are often subsidized more heavily than nutritious foods. They add filler in tons of the foods we eat, but no real nutritional value. But they’re cheap, and filling.

It’s time we get away from our classist notions that low-income people are ignorant and deserve scorn for feeding their families unhealthy food, and take a moment to consider WHY they are forced to do so, and how policies and procedures are forcing them into this conundrum.


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