File Photo: Amy Brantner / The Daily Gamecock

Column: Lower cost of eating healthy

With endless assignments due for class, tuition bills always looming around the corner and trying to get as involved as possible on campus, the average college student has enough to worry about without spending an excessive amount on healthy food. When you’re pulling an all-nighter and Chick-fil-A is on the corner of your apartment building, it’s easiest to just stop in and pick something up. 

The unfortunate reality of our world today is that it is nearly always easier and cheaper to eat unhealthy food. And people like college students — the majority of whom have little to no expendable income — barely give it a second thought.

Studies from recent years put the cost of healthy food for one person at $550 more per year than unhealthy food. That’s money that could be used for other necessities, like school supplies or doctor visits, if only the cost of healthy food wasn’t so high.  

This trend has other negative consequences. When you consider non-financial costs of unhealthy eating, the price of not buying healthy food adds up. Unhealthy diets lead to problems down the road, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. 

We need to bring down the prices of healthy food, so that everyone has the feasible option of buying it rather than relying on food that hurts the body. 

In a society that so harshly shames obesity, it’s ironic that the foods that would help people out of obesity are out of the price range for many people. Not only are we constantly told that we need to be healthier, but we’re also given nearly impossible ways to make that happen, like living on expensive organic vegetables or taking daily spin classes. Maybe that’s why America’s obesity rate is the highest in the world and is still rising

Perhaps most concerning is the trend that we see between poor health and living in poverty. People who live without disposable income have to use every penny they have to survive, which means they often end up subsisting on food that degrades their health. It all feeds into this cycle of harsh living conditions that many poor families never find their way out of. And unfortunately, children who grow up in this lifestyle are likely to form the same habits. 

It makes sense that people with more money can afford more luxuries. I get that. But is healthy food the right reward? Shouldn’t everyone be able to afford food that enriches the body rather than harms it? Living a healthy life shouldn’t be considered a luxury. It should be something that everybody can have. The only way to do that is to bring down the costs of healthy food, so that people who don’t have a ton of money are more inclined to purchase healthy rather than unhealthy food. 

When healthy food becomes a staple of only the well-off, the entire country misses out. People will have to focus on dealing with illnesses rather than contributing and innovating. Who knows? We may miss out on the cure for cancer because the person who would have invented it is too busy dealing with health issues from a lifetime of unhealthy diets. 

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