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Eating Healthy, Affordably

Eating Healthy, AffordablyArecent federal report analyzed the cost of fruits and vegetablesand estimated that Americans can get seven servings of fruitsand vegetables for a mere 64 cents per day. Why, then, are somepeople in the country malnourished? Tufts experts say cost isa factor but it’s not always as simple as the price of produce.Boston,Mass.

Boston [12.06.04] While many people spendmoney on $2 cups of coffee without giving it a second thought,preparing nutritious meals raises concerns about money that makesome balk. But Tufts experts say that eating healthy foods canbe done without breaking the bank.

“Ifyou’re looking for fairly inexpensive choices for fruitsand vegetables, it’s possible to buy these on a budget,”ParkeWilde, a food economist at the FriedmanSchool of Nutrition Science and Policy, told the AssociatedPress.

This summer,the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the resultsof a study that found that just $.64 could buy the government-recommendeddaily three servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables.

The study,based on data collected by A.C. Nielsen from 7,195 homes in 1999,examined people’s food purchasing habits, excluding restaurants.

“Ittells you that while economics may be part of the reason for unhealthydiets, it can’t be the only reason,” Wilde told theAssociated Press.

The poor facemore pressing financial dilemmas than how to afford the next healthymeal. In what Wilde described to The Boston Globe asa question of “heat-or-eat,” high energy prices oftensap away money that would go toward food purchases.

"Foodprices in the grocery store isn't where the real pinch is in theBoston metro area,” he told the Globe. “Iwould be just terrified to be low-income looking for housing.”

Time is ata premium for most working families and shopping, planning andpreparing food is a factor.. Cooking at home saves money comparedto going out and eating food that is not only more expensive butpotentially less healthy. Tufts nutrition professor JeanneGoldberg told the Globe that eating healthy and cheaply''requires a restructuring" of one’s life, but is notnecessarily overly time-consuming.

Goldberg notedthat making meals with nutritious and inexpensive beans is anexample: while beans must be soaked overnight –the actualpreparation is simple.

“That'sthe time part. The labor part is the 30 seconds it takes to coverthem with water and the one minute it takes to drain them thenext morning and incorporate into a salad or other dish,”Goldberg told the Globe.








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