Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Good Food Costs Less" Really?

The other day, as I was walking along the highway near work, an 18-wheeler from a regional grocery store chain whizzed by. Boldly plastered on its side was the slogan, “Good Food Costs Less.” I thought about that a minute. What exactly does that mean? It can’t be a thinly-veiled advertisement for health care, as in, if you eat “good” food, you will be healthier, and your medical costs will be less. But if I interpreted it literally: the better the quality of the food, the cheaper it is, then it made no sense at all. Good food, pure and simple, costs more, and there is a reason for it.

Good food relies on wholesome ingredients, and fresh ingredients are even better. Good food is minimally processed and preservative free. And good food is made by people who care about their jobs. All of those things come at a cost. Flavor chemistry is cheap. Dried, powdered, processed, and modified ingredients are a lot cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Adding preservatives is cheaper in the long run as well, since it increases the shelf life of products. Paying food processing personnel minimum wage is cheap; so is letting them fend for themselves when it comes to health insurance.

Who comes up with those slogans anyway? Then again, who is going to patronize a grocery store with the slogan “Good Food Costs More?” It’s true, but not a Madison Avenue slogan that is going to give you an edge on the competition.

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