The Rising Cost of Food Versus ‘Seven a Day’

EMDM look at the real price attached to leading a healthy lifestyle; is it do-able or are we just a nation of veggie dodgers? Plus, scroll down for tips on how to eat healthy for less!

Only buy the amount of fresh produce you need instead of packaged produce, this saves money and the environment!

Photograph: Emine Hassan

A recent renegade claim from experts at the University College in London says that eating ‘seven a day’ will prolong lives. Impeccable timing then, since according to the British Heart Foundation last week, a third of UK adults can’t afford healthy food.

Poverty and Food

The British government have long since badgered on at folk about consuming five 80 gram portions of fruit and vegetables per day and the University College in London has now vamped that number up to seven. In effect, we’re on our way to being told we need to consume 560 grams of fruit and vegetables, just over half a kilo per day.

On their website, children’s Charity Barnardo’s claim that over three million families live on as little as £12 a day, trying to factor in half a kilo of fruit and vegetables within that budget amongst the cost of heating, clothes, electricity and transport would be near impossible for some adults.

Price Elasticity

Search for ‘vegetables’ in the UK’s biggest grocery comparison website and the first thing that comes up on the list is a cheap packet of kettle chips. Keep scrolling (and scrolling) past 29 similar products to eventually reveal a supermarket own brand packet of prepared fresh produce suffocating in a cellophane bag.

Chief executive officer at Blood Pressure UK Katherine Jenner from London, 29, thinks that price elasticity has a part to play – the idea that people will pay more for a well-known brand, such as a Mars bar, even if the price goes up.

“Price is a very sensitive issue and it’s normally the first thing anyone will look for when shopping. People expect fruit and veg to be fairly cheap because they don’t get much satisfaction from it.

“I think it’s the value that we place upon it…veg is not valued that much here,” Jenner says.

Which might explain why the first product on the cyber shelf happened to be a branded packet of crisps soiled in polyunsaturated fat and levels of salt sufficient enough to question the way you’re licking your fingers during snack time.

Healthy Foods Rising in Cost

There’s no shying away from the fact that eating more of the natural stuff could extend lifespan because of the antioxidants in most vegetables that are powerful enough to prevent cancers.

The rising cost of food does not align with the health benefits of what will soon become a luxury if the price continues to clamber up.

Cheaper options

Nethertheless, the quintessential ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ attitude could be adopted, Jenner says “Frozen fruit and veg is a really good route” to meeting the seven a day target.

But the process of freezing fresh produce means that the bulk nutritional value is lost along the way, regardless, the frozen option is cheaper, but a third of adults are still opting for a cheap sugary fix when they visit supermarkets.

The cyber shelves on supermarket comparison websites could be paving the way for the future.Imagine a world where the moment you step foot in a supermarket, the first thing you see are penguin bars instead of fresh produce, but bombarding consumers with cheap snacks instead of fresh produce is not the right incentive for five a day, let alone seven.


Australians pay more for fruit and vegetables and stick to the five plus two a day initiative, meaning five vegetables and two portions of fruit per day, which sounds less daunting than plan old ‘seven’ and yet,  Aussies are willing to pay more according to Jenner.

Is it really that expensive?

Owner of thriving farm and producer Teds Veg in Lincolnshire Ted Dawson, 58 says “An apples cheaper than a box of cigarettes so it’s not expensive, is it? When you price it against everything else, you can have 18 apples off me or four cans of beer.

“If you earn minimum wage then you can pay for fruit and veg,” says Dawson.

But, like millions of us living on a limited budget, it can feel like cramming in the right amount of vegetables for a mineral rich diet is well out of reach.


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