Monday, March 30, 2009

Is the Mainstream Media Catching On?

The LA Times had an interesting, if introductory piece, about how the high costs of fresh, healthy foods and the low-costs of high-calorie low nutritional foods contribute to obesity. It is one of those, it was the best of times, the worst of times type pieces: aka the recession made me think of something I'd never contemplated before.

From the article:

Cutting back on spending may not mean cutting down on calories.

The more "energy dense" a food is -- i.e., the more calories it contains per unit weight -- the less it costs per calorie. For instance, the lowest-cost vegetables, per calorie, are potatoes; and the sugar in fresh raspberries is 100 times more expensive per calorie than table sugar.

As prices of foods go down, the purchases of those foods go up, and vice versa. Between 2004 and 2006, the prices of very-high-calorie foods dropped by an average of 1.8%, while the prices of very-low-calorie foods went up by an average of 19.5%.

The article goes on to cite obesity statistics, without context, and then give some measures some consumers are taking to combat the cost of food--such as packing a lunch for work! It isn't an extensive article and I don't recommend anyone rush over to read it (though it is linked HERE). My interest, is in how this reality is framed. Now than many middle-class and upper-class folks are feeling the pinch due to the recession, this cost disparity becomes more visable in the mainstream media with nary a realization that the the problem of access to healthy, fresh foods is a constant problem for the poor. Let's hope more mainstream journalists can make the connection.

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