Published on October 27th, 2022 | by Kritika Gupta


Dr. Kritika Gupta on Nutrition: “Did Your Grocery Bill Exceed Your Electricity Bill?”

Yes, mine too! Last week’s grocery bill came as a shock to me. I took my usual items into the cart and proceeded with the checkout. Despite social media being concerned about rising food costs, I didn’t consider it seriously until this past weekend. A careful observation also led me to find that during the Great Recession 2008, a significant change in dietary habits was seen in the United States. The immediate impact of the increase in food prices combined with a loss of employment was seen among low socioeconomic populations. For example, at a higher level, more populations consumed less food throughout the day and the consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased even further. Similarly in 2022, we have seen an increase in the price of most common fresh fruits and vegetables.

The US Department of Agriculture has predicted that the prices of fresh fruits will be increase by 8–9% and that of fresh vegetables will increase by 4.5–5.5%. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that for chicken, the prices are 19.88% more than in 2020. With such an increase in price, it won’t come as a surprise if national nutrition security is compromised yet again. As always, historically underserved populations, particularly those belonging to low social economic status and those living in food deserts, are at the highest risk of suffering through diet related deficiencies and diseases. Folks will continue to resort to cheaper processed ingredients like refined flour, sugar, and canned goods. In these circumstances, while community food banks are a good resource of food for populations, those foods are still not healthy per the strict definition of healthy, nutritious foods.

To reduce food-related expenses, there is a reduction in consumption of fast food, soda, and bakery products, and a general reduction in eating out. This change may benefit overall health of individuals if they continue eating nutritious foods, which is often harder. As mentioned earlier, cheaper food items may not be the healthiest. If an economic recession were to be declared this year or next, we need to become more mindful of our food choices and food swaps we make to save money. One thing that we do in research and business development is cost-benefit analysis. It may be a good idea to do a quick cost-benefit analysis the next time we go to grocery shopping. Is a dollar more spent on fresh fruit worth than a dollar less spent on a box of cookies? Perhaps yes.

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About the Author

Dr. Kritika Gupta holds Ph.D. in Nutrition. She currently works at the Center for Research Evaluation at the University of Mississippi. She is passionate about community-centered health promotion projects, health education projects, social determinants, and food insecurity research. Dr. Gupta gave TEDx talk "Resilience to Hunger" in 2020 and it is available on YouTube.

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