Food in America is cheap and abundant but that does not mean Americans eat well, or within their budgets.
Those are the not-so-shocking findings of a new Department of Agriculture analysis.
Despite food prices rising 4.8% in 2007, the average American family of four still spent just $189 per week on food about 13% of disposable income, according to the USDA. That is $22 more than needed to buy a week's worth of meals that fit the USDA's nutrition guidelines.
(Why are food prices rising? In large part because of Congressional subsidies for ethanol, which drove up the price of corn, a ubiquitous ingredient in processed foods thanks to decades of federal subsidies for corn farming. Incidentally, the USDA nutritional guidelines have also been criticized for being too beholden to food industry interests.)
Bottom line: Families could spend less and eat a healthier diet. Following the USDA's Low-Cost Food Plan would have Americans eating more fruits, vegetables, and milk products surprise! and less sweets and sugars. To see how your diet measures up, visit the National Agricultural Library's Recipe Finder.
Eating healthier does not have to cost more and can even cost some families less, said CNPP Executive Director Dr. Brian Wansink. The United States continues to have the safest, most abundant, healthiest, and least expensive food in the world.
To learn more about the various food plans produced by USDA, go to and click on USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food. Once you seen where you're over-spending, think about spending that extra cash on some more vegetables better yet, local organic vegetables.
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