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We reported yesterday about a Boston Globe piece that offered a look at one Massachusetts family struggling to keep its children on the nutritional straight-and-narrow, despite the pressures offered by mainstream supermarkets, mass media, and peers with less strict parents.

According to the Globe, this family invests “time, money, and emotional energy in eating in a way they consider healthful. They spend almost $200 more a month on groceries than the average American family. They eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. But even for such a committed family, the obstacles to good nutrition can be staggering” and is “economic, as well as nutritional and psychological.” The struggle, the Globe reported, “is framed by a national debate, heavily influenced by the $827 billion food and beverage industry, on what constitutes a healthful diet.”

One MNB user responded:

Americans spend less of their earned income on food than just about any other economy in the world. We are truly spoiled as a nation by what part of our income goes for food.

What do you suggest the retailers do to fix this family's quandary that they are spending more on good food than on junk food? Should a retailer sell their nutritious food at a loss and make it up on the junk food? Vegetables and fruit aren't called perishables for nothing; a lot of them go in the garbage when spoiled. Ditto for dairy products and anything else that is fresh in the store. A box of jello can sit on the shelf for years if necessary.

Would you please share what a retailer is to do to bring down the cost of the good food for this family? [Frankly, I question the result of this study; I find it much cheaper to cook and bake from scratch than to use ready-made/prepared/processed food.] Thanks.

We’re not sure it is just a retailer issue. But then again, some people aren’t sure there is an issue at all.

MNB user Lisa Malmarowski wrote:

I'm really tired of the whining about high food costs.

Per capita (as a percentage of their income), Americans spend less on food than any other Western nation. People prioritize what they spend money on. As Americans we like our big houses, big gas guzzling cars, expensive shoes, new clothes, convenience foods, DVD rentals, electronic equipment and so on.

If good quality locally produced small farm sustaining food is not a priority for you, your family or your community - don't buy it.

And here's the really fun part - the more people that believe that healthy high quality food is better for them, the better the price will become - that old supply and demand theory.

MNB user Barbara Bushelle chimed in:

It is a national tragedy! We have so many foods on the grocery shelves that are non-nutritional waste of money that many Americans are losing sight of what a good nutritional meal is.

Another MNB user offered:

I dare say that a family could approach a healthy lifestyle without spending so much more money. That they might not achieve a 100% level is understandable, but also understandable is the question of who is going to stay at a 100% level of most goals, 100% of the time?

And yet another MNB user wrote:

That a healthy diet costs more than an unhealthful one is pure myth. Whole fruits, vegetables and grains are less expensive and more satisfying than their processed counterparts, and there isn't a supermarket in the nation that doesn't carry fresh produce. After all, a potato costs less than an order of fries no matter how you slice it. That "obstacles to good nutrition can be staggering" line is bunk - an excuse used by those who choose the fast food/processed foods route to justify their choices.

I do agree, Kevin, this an opportunity for supermarkets to highlight a compelling reason for shoppers' loyalty to the channel - it's one of the few places where affordable, healthy and delicious options exist.

We’re not sure it is just a matter of choosing a potato over a French fry. It may be the difference in cost between an organic potato and a non-organic one…and it is our impression that the organic one is more expensive.

There may not be much that can be done about that at the moment. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.
KC's View: