Eating healthy eats into your income
Buying organic takes a bite out of your paycheck.
Nearly half of all Americans now say they try to eat organic foods, according to data from Gallup. But for many people, that’s just not possible: A study from Consumer Reports found that organic foods cost 47% more than non-organic foods.
What’s more, how likely it is that you can afford to eat organic food depends a lot on where you live, according to a study released this week from retail insights firm Observa. The company looked at a basket of organic foods in 16 cities from retailers like Whole Foods and Kroger, including things like organic bananas, chicken and milk; Justin’s Almond Butter, kombucha and Tom’s toothpaste. It then examined the median incomes in the cities to look at how likely a person in each of those cities could afford the stuff.
Where shoppers are most — and least — able to afford organics
Percentage of income needed to afford these items
The result: It’s way easier for people in some cities to afford these items than others. In New Orleans, for example, it would cost 11% of your paycheck to afford these items; in Palo Alto, on the other hand, just 3%. “What this means in simple terms is that shopping for healthy food in New Orleans is going to eat away at least twice as much of your paycheck,” the report explains.
One big reason for this large disparity is that incomes differ widely in these cities. People in the Bay Area tend to get paid more, and thus are more able to afford organics. What’s more, their groceries — despite the high rent — don’t tend to cost much more than groceries for the rest of us. Buying this basket of items bi-weekly in Palo Alto would cost you $3,805 over the course of a year. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, it would cost $4,071.
It’s important to point out that no one “needs” to buy organic. A number of studies have show that organic food isn’t always healthier than non-organic food, for example.
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