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May 8, 2018 / Richard Hall

Good nutrition not more expensive

The prevailing view is that poor people can only afford junk food and food deserts deny them access to fresh produce.

I’ve always disbelieved this and an article in The Economist on 10th March reinforces my view.

It refers to a US academic study of grocery purchases by 60,000 households and sales by 35,000 stores from 2004 to 2015, which finds:

• “There is little price difference for categories other than fresh produce.”

• “Healthy foods such as plain yogurt and high-grain bread are actually 8% less expensive than unhealthy foods.”

• Preference, “which is partly informed by education and nutritional knowledge, is a much more significant factor.”

• The disparity “is caused more by demand than supply.”

• “Introducing low-income populations to the same grocery shopping conditions enjoyed by high-income ones reduces nutritional inequality by only 9%. The remaining 91% of the nutritional gap … can be accounted for by differences in demand.”

I’m not saying the problem doesn’t need to be addressed. I’m saying that it can’t just be blamed on supply or price and more needs to be done on education and policy too.

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