This time of year, many of us are concentrating on eating more healthy foods. The bad news: A report recently released by the USDA shows that the foods U.S. consumers buy at the grocery store aren’t meeting dietary guidelines – or even coming close. The average Healthy Eating Index score for at-home food purchases was 56.4 – only slightly more than half the maximum score of 100 (which would mean following dietary guidelines exactly). In general, consumers buy too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and too many refined grains, fats, and added sugars. We also aren’t shopping any healthier over time – the healthfulness of consumer purchases didn’t get better from 1998 to 2006. Low-income families struggle more than higher-income families to make healthy food purchases at the store – though both groups are far from meeting recommendations.
The good news: Shopping Matters, a hands-on grocery tour from Cooking Matters, brings families directly to the store to teach them how to shop for healthy food on a limited budget. Tour participants (often the primary food shoppers for their households) learn key skills for buying fruits and veggies on a budget, reading food labels, identifying whole grains, and comparing unit prices to get the best deal. As the USDA report shows, there’s a tremendous need for the food skills taught on Shopping Matters tours, so that families see that shopping and eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. To find out more about Shopping Matters and watch a video tour, visit ShoppingMatters.org.