Eating healthy while on a budget is possible for most Americans, Troup County Farm Bureau representatives said, if they’re willing to invest some time in strategic shopping.
During TCFB’s Food Check-Out Week, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday, Farm Bureau volunteers and staff will focus on spreading the word about how consumers can stretch their grocery dollars with healthy, nutritious food.
The price of unprepared, readily available fresh fruits and vegetables, such as lettuce, bananas, whole carrots, red delicious apples, broccoli and tomatoes, has remained stable compared to dessert and snack foods, according to studies by the United States Department of Agriculture.
This suggests that the price of a healthy diet has not changed relative to an unhealthy one, TCFB officials said.
“Using your grocery dollars wisely helps ensure that nutrition isn’t neglected,” said Harrell Landreth, Troup County Farm Bureau President. “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 or canned fruits and vegetables when they aren’t in season is a smart way to stretch grocery dollars.”
Farm Bureau representatives gave these shopping tips for achieving better nutrition on a budget:
1) Make and stick to a food budget.
2) Plan nutritious meals to prepare at home that include fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.
3) Prepare a shopping list. Know what you have on hand and plan for leftovers.
4) Shop at a competitively priced supermarket that’s close to home or work with high-quality produce. Check prices online or in newspaper ads.
5) Clip coupons and buy items when they’re on sale.
6) Don’t shop when hungry; stick to a grocery list.
7) Compare prices using cost-per-unit shelf stickers and cost per serving for meat.
8) Balance the cost of foods with the preparation time required. To save time it takes to wash, peel and chop produce, a consumer may choose to pay more for produce that is already prepared.
9) Only buy food that will be eaten, not left to spoil.
10) Compare the savings of shopping at one store with some sale items to the fuel cost and time involved in shopping at several stores to get better prices on every item.
Food Check-Out Week, now in its 15th year, also highlights the variety and dependability of America’s food supply, made possible by America’s farmers. According to the most recent information from the USDA’s Economic Research Service, in 2011 American families and individuals spent, on average, less than 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food. In comparison, Italian consumers spent 14 percent; Chinese consumers spent 33 percent and Pakistan consumers spent 46 percent.
“The food grown by America’s farmers must meet higher safety and environmental standards than that grown in most other countries. Because we spend a lower percentage of our income on food, our nation enjoys a higher standard of living than most of the world,” Landreth said. “Even with the challenges of today’s economy, we have access to a wonderful variety of healthy food choices, and with solid planning, a healthy diet can be achieved.
“Farmers are consumers, too, and we are paying more for fuel, feed and seed to grow the crops and livestock we produce. Although you may see higher retail prices for your food, please remember that on average, farmers only receive 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food. The rest of the food cost covers wages and materials for food processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. Recent food price increases are due primarily to higher energy costs associated with processing, hauling and refrigerating food products.”
Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau is the largest general farm organization in the state. The organization has 158 county offices, and approximately one out of nine Georgians are involved with Farm Bureau. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors.