eli5: why is unhealthy food usually much cheaper than healthy food?


I live in the US so i’m not sure how it is in other countries, I’d love to hear your thoughts from various locations in the comments!!

In: 1

It’s not. A head of lettuce is like 1.50. a cucumber is normally like 70 cents. Produce is very cheap. Why do you think it’s expensive? Even healthy lean meats aren’t very expensive. You can get a giant pack of chicken to last a week for like 10 bucks.

Unhealthy food usually is only technically good. Everything is filled without nutrients because it tastes better, therefore you eat more. Bleached flour and partially hydrogenized soybean oils give you the sense of fullness without sustenance. You eat things, feel full, but you’re still lacking needed vitamins and minerals. You being none the wiser just think “more food should fix this” so you go back to the filling food.

The cheap, fast food industry has completely ruined us. It’s addicting and gives you the sense that you get what you need. Even the salads are bombarded with dressings that are liquid sugar, but you hear “salad” and think healthy.

TL;DR: it’s cheap and satisfies your primal brain

Companies are always looking for ways to reduce cost. If they can substitute for a cheaper ingredient without compromising taste (or at least beyond what people are willing to buy), there’s little motivation not to (unless the brand depends on being organic, natural, etc).

For example, most soft drinks were originally sweetened with sugar, but corn syrup is cheaper. Beef is expensive, so some companies mix in fillers so there’s less actual beef per pound of beef product.

Most junk food is made from grains, vegetable oils, and sugar.

All of those are very cheap.

Yes big corporates who make the rubbish food get the big tax breaks and power of volume of trade, where small suppliers do not. The rubbish food is preserved by being full of sugar and salts and hence cheaper to store, transport and it low value lasts.

The fruit and vegetable market is subject to all kinds of impacts – weather, staffing etc, with farmers put under huge pressures to be underpaid or cut out, by supermarket monopolies.

And price of fresh vegetables has skyrocketed. One ordinary lettuce has been about $6 to $11 in some areas, over the past three weeks in capital cities Australia, beans, cucumbers similar.

Though raw foods are generally less expensive than processed ones when it comes to nutrients, we are able to have inexpensive junk food in the US because of government subsidies.

Corn, oats, and wheat are subsidized in the united states (there may be more?), so we have really cheap corn syrup, cattle food, and bread.

Beans, lentils, rice. Add onions or garlic for taste.

Processed foods are everywhere for a reason, they are easy to inflate prices and they are profitability.

It’s not? The cheapest food you can find in the US (or anywhere) is rice and beans, which is decently nutritious. Stuff like raw potatoes, onions, cabbage, eggs are all cheap. What’s expensive is the labor needed to turn those things into a finished meal.

Most processed foods aren’t very healthy though because it’s much more difficult (aka expensive) to process foods in a way that retains nutrition while minimize calories. For example, processed salads are pretty expensive because cutting vegetables causes them to go bad really quickly. This requires that you cut them immediately before purchase, which is more labor intensive and also has a higher risk of food wastage. On the other hand, Twinkies can be made in a largely automated factory and stay good forever so you don’t have to worry as much about wastage or labor costs. Their high sugar and fat content and low water content allow them to stay good forever, but lack nutrition