• Posted by Califia Suntree on September 26th, 2011, 7:00 AM

    Sunday’s New York Times op-ed by Mark Bittman touches on an argument that has often irked me — that fast food is the only way to eat on the very cheap, hence national obesity levels. I have been extremely broke, as have some of my friends, and going to KFC three times a day wasn’t how most of us resolved the situation. Because it wasn’t the cheapest alternative! Goya and pasta and oatmeal and root vegetables in bulk (and bad beer) were.

    Ditto my annoyance at the “Americans have no time to cook” argument, since, as Bittman points out, our daily average TV viewing clocks in at 1 1/2 hours — for all income levels. (And I’ve heard even higher numbers reported.)

    Still, I don’t know where Bittman’s doing his grocery shopping that he can provide a roast chicken, veggies, salad and milk for a family of four for $14. Broke Americans want to know!

    THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli …” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”

    This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!) …

    Read more via Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? – NYTimes.com.

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