The Price Is Right

“Come on down, Julie from San Francisco, you’re the next contestant on The Price Is Right!”

“Julie, our game for you today is a food game: Which Costs Less? (The crowd cheers excitedly.) I’m going to show you two baskets of food and you’re going to guess which one costs less. Pretty simple, right? (Julie takes a long pause.) Julie, you look really excited. Are you okay?”

“Jason, I can’t believe I’m here! I’ve wanted to be on The Price Is Right my whole life!”

“I can tell you’re thrilled to be here, Julie! Let’s get going with our game!” (The crowd cheers enthusiastically.)


“In basket 1, Julie, we have one pound of organic broccoli, one pound of wild-caught cod, and one pound of organic Gala apples purchased from a local fish market and a local farmers’ market.”

“In basket 2, Julie, we have a box of Raisin Bran cereal, a bag of Tostito’s tortilla chips, and a bottle of Mott’s apple juice all purchased from our sponsor Walmart. Everyone loves Walmart, right? Yes, give it up for Walmart! (The crowd goes wild.)”

“Jason, I really think I’ve got this. I’m a great discount shopper. I grew up reading the food flyers with my mom and cutting coupons. In our family, we really know how to save money and get the best buy on food. I really think I’m going to get that car!” (Julie jumps up and down unable to contain herself.)

“Okay, which cost less, Julie, basket 1 or basket 2?”

“It’s basket 2, Jason, I know it is!”

(The Price Is Right losing horn.) This article works better if you play the horn for effect.

“I’m so sorry, Julie. It’s basket 1. Let’s take a look at the costs:

Basket 1, if purchased once, would cost $18.97.

Basket 2, if purchased once, would cost $8.47. So far, you’ve made the right choice.

Basket 1, if purchased weekly for 50 years, would cost $49,322.00.

Basket 2, if purchased weekly for 50 years, would cost $22,022.00. Wow, that’s a lot less!

But in the final 25 years, a person eating the low-nutrient diet of basket 2 would incur an additional cost of $5,000 per year for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, and in the final 10 years, an additional cost of $48,000 per year for assisted-living care. So when we add in the medical costs associated with basket 2, we have a whopping grand total of $627,022.00.

A person eating the high-nutrient diet of basket 1 would incur an additional cost of $2,000 per year in medical expenses over the 50 years for a total additional cost of $100,000. That’s a grand total of only $149,322.00.”

It turns out cheap “food” (food-like packaged goods) isn’t so cheap after all, and those “expensive” vegetables, fish, and fruit are actually quite the value.

And that’s only considering the financial value. The true wealth that comes from eating well is found in how tasty real food is and how good it feels to be well.

Prominent medical journals confirm what we can all see clearly if we’re willing to look: How we eat affects our wellness (in both directions). (1-4)

According to The Lancet Psychiatry: “We advocate recognition of diet and nutrition as central determinants of both physical and mental health.” (1)

According to the Annals of Internal Medicine: “Better diet quality at midlife appears strongly linked to greater health and well-being among those surviving to older ages.” (2)

According to the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences: “The results of the present study add to the growing body of literature that demonstrates that diet quality is associated with functional status in older adults.” (3)

Powerful words from powerful authorities and simple common sense of any person living in tune with nature, and their nature, both tell us: It pays to eat well.

Editor’s note for fun (the editor is the same person as the writer): When this article came to me in a dream, I really did say, “Give it up for Walmart!” At that point, I woke up in a cold sweat.

Editor’s note for financial and economic critics: It’s true that for many people much of their treatment for type-2 diabetes is covered by their medical insurance. It’s true that for many people assisted-living care is paid for by Medicare and/or long-term-care insurance. But the more medical care we collectively use, the higher everyone’s insurance premiums are. And most of us pay into the Medicare system via Medicare tax. Increased need for medical care inevitably means higher Medicare tax. When a person willfully avoids self-care that leads to more medical care, we all pay for it. It may not be as expensive for an individual as I portray in this article, but it’s more expensive for all of us. Public-health leaders are well aware of this:

“The costs of health services are increasing globally, and are likely to become unsustainable unless members of the public become more fully engaged and take a greater responsibility for their own health. Personal prevention measures, such as we describe, could have a large impact on the costs of healthcare services. Ultimately however, decisions about behaviours [sic] lie with the individuals and there is therefore an urgent need to establish a more effective partnership between health services and citizens.” (4)

  1. Nutritional Medicine as Mainstream in Psychiatry. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2015, 2(3), 271-274.
  2. The Relation of Midlife Diet to Healthy Aging: A Cohort Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2013, 159(9), 584-591.
  3. Higher Healthy Eating Index-2005 Scores Are Associated with Better Physical Performance. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences, 2012, 67(1), 93-99.
  4. Healthy Lifestyles Reduce the Incidence of Chronic Diseases and Dementia: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort Study. PLOS One, 2013, 8(12), 1-7.




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