The Economics of a Healthy Lifestyle
Lately, I have been thinking about the costs, the financial costs, associated with a healthy lifestyle. When I began writing the My Faith and Fitness Blog, I gave advice about building a fitness wardrobe on a budget. I'm always ready for a good deal! Since I began the Live Longer and Stronger Challenge, I have been much more cognizant of what I eat and how I exercise. As you know, I am a tracker. This Challenge has increased my tracking activities. Consequently, I have noticed that, financially, the costs of healthy food are higher than the costs of unhealthy food.
Last night around 9:00, I went to the supermarket in anticipation of the impending snow storm. Since the store was not crowded, I took some extra time to do some comparison shopping. I am brand loyal to a point. Although, I have gotten burned a few times with experimenting, I am willing to try new products if I can get a good deal. Additionally, I usually purchase products that are on sale. Last night, I had a few "aha" moments in the supermarket. For example, in the juice aisle, some juices were on sale at two 64oz bottles for $4.00. I put four bottles into the cart. I usually drink water. I rarely drink juice. The juice is for my husband. Last night, my husband pointed to another bottle from the same company that was labeled "100% juice." He said, "If that's 100% juice, what are we buying?" Clearly, our "juice" was not 100% juice. The "light" juice is actually 50% juice. The regular, full-calorie "juice" is only 15% juice. Also, the 100% juice bottle was $1.00 more per bottle. I needed to buy the sale juice.
For me, $3.00 per bottle of juice is not financially practical. I know that I am not alone with that sentiment. Some people see me and others like me and say, "They are lawyers, ministers, white collar professionals, etc. so they have deep pockets." A friend and I were discussing these financial issues recently. I want to remind folks that New Jersey is an expensive state in which to live. Many people with professional degrees have significant student loan debt because of those degrees. I thank God that my husband and I have no credit card debt. However, some of those professional folks also have significant credit card debt because they are attempting to make the ends meet.
What about folks who cannot even afford to pay $2.00 per bottle of juice? What are they drinking? 0% juice? Drinks with no nutritional value? Drinks that consist of sugar, water and food coloring? What about our brothers and sisters who receive food stamps from the government? There has been a lot of debate lately about the U.S. Congress cutting funding to SNAP (food stamps). SNAP means Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Here's a benefit chart from the SNAP website:
How Much Could I Receive? Allotments for households in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.
The amount of benefits the household gets is called an allotment. The net monthly income of the household is multiplied by .3, and the result is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household's allotment. This is because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their resources on food.
(November 1, 2013 through September 2014)
|People in Household||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each additional person|
What choices would you make with $____ per month? Clearly, you are not going to do your grocery shopping at Whole Foods.
What about the availability of healthy food? We have folks living in food deserts. According the the U.S.D.A.:
Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
When you live in a food desert and lack transportation to get to a well-stocked supermarket, you eat whatever is available. There is little wonder why people who live in food deserts suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
So church, what are we going to do to help alleviate the struggles that our people face? Are we even aware that our sisters and brothers are hungry? Do we realize that many members of our communities are under nourished? The "soup kitchen" and "food pantry" solutions are band-aids. The bigger issue is the system that allows these conditions to exist. What can we Christians doing to dismantle the system? Audre Lorde has aptly stated, "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Spiritually, we must use God's tools to dismantle the house (system) that the adversary has built. The system that does not allow folks to become healthy. The system that does not allow folks to stay healthy, when and if they arrive at a state of good health. We must recognize the weapons of our warfare. We must know how to use the weapons of our warfare.
What can ministers, preachers and pastors do to minister to those who scratching and struggling to survive? How can we get them past survival to a place of thriving? What does Jesus require us to do? Be blessed. Remain encouraged.