By Peggy Jo Goodfellow, Arizona Farm Bureau
As the economic squeeze continues, many Americans remain concerned that the cost of a healthy diet is out of reach. Arizona Farm Bureau’s Food Check-Out Week, which runs this week (February 21-27), focuses on helping Arizonans 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.
Arizona Farm Bureau’s Food Check-Out Week is aimed at helping American consumers learn how to shop effectively to put nutritious meals on the table with fewer dollars. “Learning to use your grocery dollars wisely ensures that nutrition isn’t neglected,” according to Sharla Mortimer, Arizona Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee chair and rancher from Dewey.
“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 costs less, while buying frozen fruits and vegetables when they’re not in season, is a smart way to stretch that dollar,” adds Mortimer.
Here is 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 foods in the study, the price of a “healthier” diet has not changed compared to an “unhealthy” diet.
Now in its twelfth 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 (2008) information from the USDA’s Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food.