Recently, media attention has focused on eating healthy and eating less. The cost of healthy foods has been a source of concern for many consumers, especially those on a tight budget. The studies that compare the costs of healthy and less-healthy foods tend to suggest that healthier foods are cheaper than less-healthy options, but this does not tell the whole story. The metrics used to measure cost are also important. A recent study showed that the cost of vegetables and fruit is much higher than the price of processed food.
In addition to the cost of food, low-income households often sacrifice a large portion of their food budget to a healthy diet. These families may not realize that they have to spend nearly half of their food budget on eating healthfully. As a result, their food costs may be lower than those of wealthy families. The sensitivity to price may also be reduced if they are receiving food assistance. Lastly, a low-income family may not be aware of the relative cost of the healthy foods.
There are a number of reasons for this variation in prices. First, healthy foods are harder to produce, and farmers must pay more to grow them. Second, the cost of producing healthy foods is increasing because of the shortages and surpluses of some crops. In some regions, the cost of avocados is fifty percent cheaper than in other areas of the country. This has a major impact on the price of healthy foods in the U.S.