Friday, January 9, 2009

Recession: a weighty issue

Packer Managing Editor Fred Wilkinson here.

As if people didn't have enough to worry about considering the uncertain state of the economy, a news report suggests Americans may become fatter as their assets are slimming down:

"The specter of 'recession pounds' is a concern weighing on health professionals, who point to numerous studies linking obesity and unhealthy eating habits to low incomes. They fear that as people cut food spending they will cut back on healthy but relatively expensive items such as fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grains, in favor of cheaper options high in sugar and saturated fats."

The Reuters article continues on to state that McDonald's dollar menu items (although my favorite, the double cheeseburger now runs $1.20) has kept the burger firm recession resistant so far, but that upscale purveyor of more healthful prepared entrees Whole Foods has felt the effect of customers trading down.

While on a pure calories-per-dollar basis most fresh fruits and vegetables can't compete with bags of private-label cookies or some other nutrient-deprived foods, some produce (bananas and potatoes, for example) are tasty, satisfying consumer favorites that are filling and filled with vitamins and other nutrients. No wonder they are top sellers in the produce aisle regardless of economic conditions.

The report sums things up saying its "possible to eat in an affordable and healthy way, partly by relying on the basic foods which saw America through the Depression of the 1930s. The answer lies in affordable but nutrient-rich foods such as ground beef, beans, milk, nuts, cheese, carrots, potatoes, canned tomatoes, soups, and rice." It refers to these foods as "a diet for a new Depression."

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