“Not everyone can afford to eat well”: this has been the rebuttal to health-food-enthusiasts in general (and locavores in particular) ever since the rise of writers like Michael Pollan. The argument goes that it costs more to buy healthy produce than a Big Mac. In the past, economists have compared the prices of these foods by the amount of calories they offer. Recently, however, the FDA conducted a study comparing food costs not only calorically, but also by price per edible weight and price per average amount eaten. The results? According to the latter two methods, “grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and less healthy foods.”
Consumed in moderation, and with the force-multiplier of a good piece of cheese, beer can be quite the frugal beverage, turning a modest investment of money and a small amount of preparation into an outsize portion of happiness and health.
A good friend of mine was recently told that her cholesterol levels were too high. She was handed the usual dietary order: Cut out dairy foods—like cheese and butter—that have saturated fat. This has been the standard prescription from doctors for more than 20 years, despite the fact that epidemiological studies and new research don’t support this blanket rejection of dairy. Remember the French Paradox? (Even with all the yummy cheese and butter that’s consumed in France, the natives have much less heart disease than Americans.) And there’s this post from a scientist regarding a 15-year study in Australia that found: “people who mostly avoided dairy or consumed low-fat dairy had more than three times the risk of dying of coronary heart disease or stroke than people who ate the most full-fat diary.”