Some of you may have seen this little graphic floating around the Internet. Claiming that for the same price as family meal from KFC you can get a shit ton of groceries. I call bullshit.
I scoured the Internet and these prices just do not match. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the USDA, these prices are terribly out of date. The average price of 2 pounds of chicken breasts is actually almost $7! A pound of lean ground beef is over $4. A gallon of skim milk is (if you're lucky) $3.50 and 10 pounds of potatoes costs $5.60. Every single item on that list is actually more expensive in reality than the graphic claims, with the full total being a lot closer to $40 than $20. And remember that those are just the U.S. averages (meaning that in quite a few places this pile of groceries costs considerably more than $40). You can maybe - MAAAAAAYYYYYBEEEE - get all those groceries for $19.54 if you are an amazing couponer. Maybe. However, you can also probably reduce the price of the KFC meal as well using coupons, so... yeah. I still say "fuck you" to that graphic.
It also doesn't take into account the amount of time or energy needed to cook these groceries (something that many working families just don't have enough of). The thing about fast food is that it's fast and easy, after you've worked a long, physically-demanding day and just want to eat (or play with your kids or help with homework or get ready for your other job). This graphic also doesn't take into account the existence of food deserts (low-income neighborhoods without access to fresh, healthy and affordable food) or the possibility that not everyone has a full kitchen with working stoves or refrigerators, proper cookware or even clean water.
The graphic appears to have been created by SparkPeople which is a health, fitness and diet site, so it probably wasn't intended to be as offensive and inaccurate/outdated as it is... but that doesn't make it okay. It completely shames people while being incredibly ignorant about the realities of life for many. Eating healthy is a luxury. Even when you compare the monetary cost of food dollar-to-dollar, there is so much more to it and it's incredibly obtuse to pretend otherwise. It's not just laziness or a "choice" to eat unhealthy. Poverty can make it near impossible to eat healthy. No one is arguing that KFC (or any other fast food) is good for you... but life certainly isn't as black and white as this picture would have you believe. Didn't we learn anything from Gwyneth Paltrow's gross food-stamp stunt?
- Average food prices: a snapshot of how much has changed over a century - BLS
- Average Retail Food and Energy Prices - BLS
- Fruit and Vegetable Prices - USDA ERS
- Walmart.com (Note: For a few of the items, "average" prices were not readily available online, so I used local prices from Walmart.)
UPDATE: So the creator of the original post emailed me and explained themselves... but they asked that I not share any of their email. So um... okay... that happened.