Putting a Price on Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

High cost is often cited as the main reason why Americans do not buy more fruits and vegetables. While there are recognized cost and access issues regarding fruits and vegetables in underserved communities, like major urban areas, this is not usually the case for most of us. Fruits and vegetables are some of the least expensive “real food” you can buy. For example, you can purchase an apple for less than the price of a candy bar or a bag of baby carrots for less than a large bag of potato chips.

But if you still believe that buying more fruits and vegetables will spoil your grocery budget, you may want to rethink your food shopping habits. Here are a few things to consider if you want to add more fruits and vegetables to your grocery cart without breaking the bank.

  1. Focus on cost per serving, not cost per pound when buying fruits and vegetables
  2. Compare fruit and vegetable prices based on form (canned, dried, fresh, frozen and juiced)
  3. Shop at farmers’ markets or local green carts. Green carts are mobile food carts that carry fresh fruits and vegetables, and are generally found in urban areas where access to fruits and vegetables is usually limited
  4. Buy less meat. With a few exceptions, the cost of meat per serving is usually more than the cost of vegetables per serving
  5. Buy non-organic fruits and vegetables if organic versions are too expensive (remember to focus on cost per serving when deciding whether to buy organic—it may be more affordable than you think)
  6. Buy less fruits and vegetables than you think you may need to avoid spoilage
  7. Buy fruits and vegetables in bulk or when on sale and share with family and friends, and ask them to return the favor
  8. Learn about community based programs (Wholesome Wave) designed to increase access to affordable fruits and vegetables in underserved communities
They say that you cannot put a price on good health, and you should, therefore, buy the best quality food for you and your family. But sometimes the best quality food is unaffordable or inaccessible for some of us. Not everyone can afford to buy organic fruits and vegetables all the time. However, research has shown that fruits and vegetables, in all their forms, are more affordable than most people think, when you focus on cost per serving. And, of course, there are the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, which could save on medical care and prescription drug costs.

But maybe the real issue of buying more fruits and vegetables is not cost, but taste and preference. Maybe we prefer the taste of an Oreo cookie to a dark juicy plum. Understandable. But that cookie will cost you more in the long run.
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