It’s common perception that fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are more expensive than fast food and highly processed, packaged foods. But a new federal report out Wednesday debunks this notion and contends that eating on the cheap might also mean eating more healthily. It just depends on how you measure price – by calorie or portion size.
For the report, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that when comparing the price of food by calorie, unhealthy foods are cheaper. Though, when comparing by portion size, per USDA guidelines, healthier foods were surprisingly less costly.
“We also estimated the cost of meeting individual food group recommendations as detailed on the ChooseMyPlate.gov website. The vegetable recommendation is the most expensive to meet – and it’s because of the amount recommended,” wrote Andrea Carlson, researcher at the Economic Research Service on USDA’s blog.
The report, which looked at more than 4,000 food items, showed it is less costly to meet the grains, dairy and fruit recommendations than those for vegetables or protein foods.
Learn more about the findings in the summary report.