Dollar Burger Versus Five Dollar Salad

Escaping nutritionism, the Western diet, and avoiding processed food is not as simple as it may seem. Factors that control what you eat include financial status, time, location, and knowledge. Financial status alone plays a large role in what people can and do eat on a daily basis. The food system in the U.S. is designed to increase yields to feed as many people as possible and make those foods the least expensive. The United States government has also subsidized the producers of corn and wheat, which are main ingredients in processed foods. This helps keep prices low and encourages farmers to grow these crops for maximum profit. Although, this leads to problems because those in lower income classes want to maximize the amount of food they get for the least expensive price, leading to those that are financially struggling to be locked into a diet that consists mostly of processed foods.

A diet that focuses more on healthy foods and consists of no processed foods costs about $1.50 more per day, per person (Boyes, 2014). This means that for a family of four, they will be spending on average 6 more dollars a day. Most families in lower income classes that are already financially struggling do not want to spend this extra money, they are most focused on filling up their bellies than feeding on healthier, unprocessed foods.

Photo Credit:!page=post&id=55AF8899-DE8E-07D3-4866-8E4B3A54BFFF

The United States is making some headway in allowing SNAP to be used at farmers markets which makes it possible for lower income families and/or individuals to purchase fresh, local whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. However, there is still more that needs to be done to make healthier, non-processed foods less expensive and more accessible. What would happen instead of subsidizing corn and wheat, the government subsidized romaine lettuce and carrots?


Works Cited

Boyes, Christina. “The True Cost of Processed Foods.” Wise Choice Market, Wise Choice

Market, 13 Dec. 2014,


Photo Credit:!page=post&id=55AF8899-DE8E-07D3-4866-8E4B3A54BFFF



3 thoughts on “Dollar Burger Versus Five Dollar Salad

  1. Eunice Lee

    Anneliese, your discussion of subsidizing corn and wheat makes a great point. The government seems to be encouraging a cycle of cheap industrialized food, which are mostly unhealthy, that many people cannot afford to stray away from. I also like how you mention the factors that control what we eat. I believe that the western diet and nutritionism engrains an unhealthy relationship that we form with food. Knowledge is a large factor that controls what we eat, which I think is why it is so important to teach children about food and healthy eating practices. I find it interesting how school lunches in the US seem rather unhealthy; the food is also served to the children, so they have little time to contemplate what goes into their food and how it was prepared. On the contrary, as part of the education curriculum in schools in Japan and China, the children prepare and serve lunches for each other. I think this is a great way for children to learn first-hand about healthy diets, allows to contemplate food, and teaches them a valuable life skill (cooking). Though I think it is great that the US is now allowing SNAP to be used at farmers markets, it is still not a viable option for everyone. Educating children about healthy eating and healthy cooking will hopefully allow people in the US to still eat healthy, even with financial barriers, as knowledge will hopefully allow them to be more conscious of how the US food system is set up to make unhealthy eating cheaper. 

    Here is an article about the school lunch program in Japan if you are interested:

  2. Willa Jane Jeffers


    I appreciate that you identify the disparity in opportunity for people to eat healthy in a globalized food system. My biggest issue with Michael Pollan’s work was that it did not seem to take this into account, and I believe as you do, that a solution will include making healthy food more affordable. The ability to use SNAP at farmers markets is a step in the right direction, especially because it has the capability to bolster the success of small farmers. I would extend this need to a global level. It is necessary to support incentives to grow and eat healthy food all around the world. When subsidies are brought up I can’t help but consider the implications that they have on developing nations who are currently providing those foods for us. Whenever the United States decides to subsidize a domestic good it affects international markets, at times in very harmful ways. As complex as it is to meet everyone’s needs, and possibly out of reach in the near future, it should be the goal. In order to do this we may need to reconsider how viable a globalized food system is. If the subsidies that help low income Americans hurt farmers in the developing world, is there a better answer?
    Thank you for bringing up this piece of the conversation and I hope that solutions may be found to finding a healthier diet for everyone on earth.

  3. Jade Lauw

    I’m glad you wrote a piece on the accessibility of healthy foods. Many of the people I know have the desire to be healthy by eating “organic” foods, but often revert back to processed food because of the exact same reason you stated above: they believe processed foods are cheaper.
    However, in my previous environmental studies class with Elizabeth Wheat, called “Attaining a Sustainable Society”, did a study on this and found it to not always be the case. In this class, we chose a mildly complex recipe for a conventional dinner and recorded the prices of the ingredients in Safeway and the University District Farmer’s Market. When we compared the prices of the two places, we actually found that the total cost of the ingredients from the farmer’s market was only $4 more than the total cost of buying these ingredients at Safeway. This is because most of the ingredients being sold at the farmers market was sold in bulk, making the value of the seemingly more-expensive products worth the buck.
    Unfortunately, not many people have the time to reevaluate this situation, and resort to processed foods because at the face-value, it is more convenient, and cheaper. I believe the food system we have in the U.S. does not promote greater awareness of where our foods come from. The world of processed foods makes it especially harder for people to develop a healthy diet, when there are constant advertisements from big food-chain corporations, coupons/”great” deals on processed foods, convenient accessibility in every grocery store per block, and mass production to continuously lower the costs of production. However, if people were able to see food past its face-value of price and conveniency, perhaps they would have a clearer idea on what the better options are.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *