Why should my lack of money affect my health?

Healthy foods should be available to all as it seems like a basic necessity.

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Healthy foods should be available to all as it seems like a basic necessity.

Sedona Brickley, Staff Writer

A little over two years ago I made the decision to go vegan, a diet which consumes no animal products including milk, meat, fish, cheese, and more. I was in search of a lifestyle which would make me feel better about myself, while at the same time improving my health, and making a small, but necessary impact on the environment. Through this lifestyle change I found that the price difference between organic and Vegan foods is significantly higher than your average foods, making it less accessible for lower income people and families.

For example a non-vegan frozen pizza that you could buy at any local grocery store costs usually no more than  $5 – $6 to six dollars. These can usually feed quite a few people, and include dairy-based cheese and usually at least one kind of meat. Vegan frozen pizzas on the other hand, cost anywhere from eight to $12 sometimes more. Usually there is  less protein in these as well, making them less filling, and causing the consumer to need a bigger quantity in order to feel full. This same sort of pattern goes for most, if not all of “processed” vegan Foods.

There is a form of veganism known as the raw vegan diet, where participants only eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, and raw oats, none of which can be cooked. I once tried this 

diet with hopes of sticking to it for at least a week, and instead lasted a mere three and a half days. You have to consume quite large amounts of fruit and vegetables frequently in order to reach your necessary caloric intake goal for the day. If you don’t you will feel fatigued . 

Food for homeless and low income homes mainly consists of foods high in sodium like canned goods.

Fruits and vegetables tend to be relatively budget friendly if you are shopping at a grocery store like Walmart, or Smart and Final. If you happen to venture over to a health food store like Lassens or Whole Foods, the price difference is substantial . These stores pride themselves on carrying only organic and fair trade items. Organic means a product is free of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. Studies on the effects of non-organic products on health are very limited, meaning consumers are putting  harmful pesticides into our bodies without knowing the impact they might have. Some researchers claim that consuming genetically modified products can be linked to more food allergies and increased infant mortality, along with other things

I’d rather go natural and organic than put my health and the health of those I love at risk. But coming from a single mother household living an all organic, vegan lifestyle is just unmaintainable.

Organic foods have been found to be 47% more expensive than your average food. Some are more expensive than that and some less. This remains true for pretty much all vegan food. Households like mine struggle to afford normal groceries, ,lower income households typically rely on canned goods, microwaveable meals, and prepackaged things in their day to day life, simply because that is the cheapest option and what they can afford. Unironically, these products are also the worst for your health with a high amount of calories, sodium, and fat. All of which have been connected to a higher risk for obesity and health issues

Why should one’s class and wealth affect their health or what foods they are able to purchase? A healthy lifestyle should be something that people of all social classes should be able to maintain. creating such a big gap in prices between ‘unhealthy’ and ‘healthy’ foods, we are also creating a high percentage of lower income families that face a greater risk of obesity causing illnesses, and combating this risk creates the issue of whether or not they have the financial ability to do so. One shouldn’t have to choose between their health and being able to pay the bills every month. Health seems like something that should just be a natural born right. We need to make this lifestyle obtainable to all people in America no matter what their current circumstances are. 

If you or anyone you know can’t afford to buy food for themselves or their family, or you want to learn more about healthy foods and where to find them please refer them to this link: Food Assistance and Healthy Eating – Ventura County.

Organic Produce can be found at your local grocery store, or at outdoor markets. (Elena Elisseeva)