Paying the Price for Freshness

Contributor
Rising costs mean in-season produce is out of reach for many
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Fresh produce on display

As the weather warms up, towns and cities alike are peppered with the telltale tents of farmers markets, proverbial horns of plenty beckoning shoppers to stalls that spill over with fresh produce.   

We know the old adage: Eat your fruits and vegetables. And with so many delicious choices in season, including locally sourced and organic offers, doing just that should be easy.

Unfortunately, for too many Americans prices have become the deciding factor in diet.

According to the Consumer Price Index, prices for fresh fruits and vegetables have risen dramatically over past decades, approximately 109 percent since 1989, and will continue to do so if the trend continues. Healthy cereals and whole grains have also seen price increases, though lower at approximately 92 percent since the same year. Meanwhile, costs for sugary and packaged foods have maintained relatively stable, rising only approximately 75 percent since 1989 with standard inflation, and remaining comparatively cheaper throughout the decades.

For a nation plagued with obesity, diabetes, and other diet-based health concerns, a lack of access to fresh produce is, at the very least, exacerbating a preexisting problem.

Even as food education initiatives strive to instruct the population on the importance of balanced nutrition and fresh foods, such programs can have little effect if prices continue to keep the right foods out of reach.        

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