Is Fast Food Really Cheap? The Truth About the Dollar Menu

Is Fast Food Really Cheap? The Truth About the Dollar Menu

If you've ever uttered the phrase, "but healthy food is so expensive!" then you have been duped. This is the perception fed to the public by the fast food and processed food industries. They spend a lot of money on marketing deception, fooling you into believing healthy food is expensive and processed fast food is cheap. But don't feel too bad - you're not alone. America spends billions of dollars finding food that's fast, convenient and cheap, not realizing that the real impact the fast food industry has on our wallets stems from the impact is has on our health.

Once a very sick and obese man married to a wife struggling with debilitating fibromyalgia, I can give you first hand knowledge of the cost differential between cheep, fast food and a sedentary lifestyle and a healthy, wholesome diet and more active, fit lifestyle.

Our diet was consistently the Standard American Diet of fast food, processed foods and fried foods. We also never moved. I was over 450 pounds with multiple health conditions and medications. My wife Gwen was very sick and under the care of 3 doctors and 7 medications.

I began my health revolution in November of 2006 and, shortly afterward, Gwen jumped on the wellness train with me. In 2006, Gwen and I had out-of-pocket medical cost exceeding $13,000 - yes, after insurance coverage. This was for routine doctor’s visits, tests and prescriptions. In 2007, our out-of-pocket medical expenses dropped to less than $7,000. In 2008, they dropped to just over $3,000. Our total medical cost for 2009 dropped to less than $1000 and has been under $500 ever since. Now, all we have and need is a yearly physical and routine chiropractic visits.

Why did our medical costs go down?

Our diet and lifestyle change reduced our need for emergency doctor visits, routine doctor’s appointments, medications, monthly and quarterly blood tests and scans of all different sorts. The healthier we ate and the more active we became, the less we needed doctors and drugs.

It’s that simple.

The nutrients in healthy foods fixed the root cause of the symptoms we needed medications for. By minimizing the intake of toxic and inflammatory chemicals in fast and processed foods, our bodies could use the bounty of nutrition from real foods and begin repairing themselves. We didn’t have deficiencies in chemicals or medications; we had deficiencies in nutrition and activity.

Why does healthy food seem more expensive?

We do have the cheapest processed and refined foods of any country on this planet, so it’s natural to associate foods that aren’t all on the dollar menu as expensive. Processed foods are cheep because our government subsidizes the manufacturing cost to make those foods. On the other hand, very little funding subsidies exist for healthy foods like produce, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils or whole grains, making them more expensive to buy. And, think about it. There must be a reason the government wants to make processed foods so cheap and healthy foods more expensive!

Let's look at the facts:

  • Processed and refined foods are cheaper. That’s a given. The dollar menu is really the billion-dollar menu when it comes to the nation’s health.
  • Studies show that the consumption of processed and refined foods is the root cause of most illness and disease for Americans.
  • Our most recent data indicates that 75 to 80 percent of Americans are suffering from a preventable illness or disease.
  • Recent studies also indicate that less than 12 percent of the American population eats the government-recommended 3 vegetables and 2 fruits per day.
  • If only 12 percent of us are eating the recommend 5-a-day, then the other 88 percent are eating the Standard American Diet - the cause of more than 75 percent of America’s ill health.

I see a clear relationship between these facts. Do you?

Your food may be cheap, but your health is costing you so much more in doctor’s visits, medications and quality of life.

Tips for Saving Money on Healthy Foods

  1. Talk to your grocery’s produce manager. There’s a certain day when grocery stores take produce off the shelf and replace it with fresher produce. Usually a couple of days before they restock produce, they will have sales on those items. Ask when these sales happen weekly.
  2. Buy produce in bulk and freeze or can or dehydrate vegetables and fruits. You can also buy in bulk and store root vegetables, winter squash and/or whole grains and keep them in cool, dry storage for a long time.
  3. Join a local farmers' and growers' co-op. Just about every city has a few of them. This allows you to buy produce weekly at very reduced rates. You are buying direct from the farmers.
  4. Visit your local farmers’ markets and get to know and support them through your purchases.

As avid NutriBullet fans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices are part of our everyday life. We see and feel the benefits. However, that’s not the case for most of the American population.

Sadly, the truth is we cannot afford to keep eating processed, fried and refined foods. It’s costing us so much more than we think. I deal with this every day and I can tell you emphatically that a diet rich in real foods, particularly organic produce, can turn your health around. You have to stay away from the toxic and inflammatory chemicals in processed foods.

Certified Nutritional Consultant

This is a great article. I just started had my second blast today and I'm off to spin class.
No Avatar

Thank you for your comment! It is pending approval and should be posted shortly.