Dairy Makes Cents


Today’s economic crunch sometimes pits saving money against eating healthy. For me, this dilemma is often compounded by another factor: spending a little more on food if it saves time. Since time is money, won’t I still be economizing? It’s a question of my priorities.

Consumers are shifting priorities when making grocery purchase decisions, according to a new survey released by the Midwest Dairy Council. According to the April survey of 1,002 people, more than half of consumers say price, not nutrition, is the most important factor when grocery shopping in this economic climate.

New motivators in grocery shopping, uncovered in this survey, may point to a nutrition recession. Consumers say, by a margin of two to one, that shopping for discounted foods has increased in importance since the recession began. Some consumers are choosing to reduce their purchases of basic, nutrient-rich foods, like dairy. More than one-third of respondents say they are buying less dairy products in general.

“This points to a need for more information about nutrient-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, that deliver more bang for your buck than other options at the grocery store,” says Stephanie Cundith, a registered dietitian with the Midwest Dairy Council. “Dollar for dollar, dairy is actually one of the most economical sources of nutrition.”

In order to promote the cost-effective nutritional value of dairy foods, the Midwest Dairy Council launched the “Dairy Makes Sense” campaign.

Dairy makes sense when times are tough,” says Cundith. “Milk, for example, packs nine essential nutrients at only 25 cents per glass. Consumers should purchase more nutrient-rich foods such as dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, and avoid empty-calorie foods that provide little or no nutrition at a high cost.”

Eating nutrient-rich foods means getting the most vitamins, minerals and other nutrients per serving without empty calories. Cundith points out that as consumers cut costs, they should look for foods that provide value from both economic and nutritional perspectives, instead of just shopping for lower-priced or discounted foods. For example, yogurt and flavored milk are excellent nutrient-rich choices. One eight-ounce serving of yogurt provides nearly a third of your daily calcium needs, while sodas offer plenty of calories through added sugars with little nutrient value except through fortification.

“Almost 40 percent of the survey respondents who reported purchasing fewer dairy products since the economic downturn said they believe they can get the necessary nutrition from other foods,” says Cundith. “Yet, dairy provides four of the seven nutrients Americans are missing the most, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin A.”

Fortunately, in our area of Ohio, I can’t complain about milk prices. My household has been lucky to get in on a recent promotional sale offering a half gallon of milk for 99 cents-whole, 2%, 1% and 1% chocolate all being included in the sale. We bought both white and chocolate. What other commodity could provide so much food value and cooking/eating potential for a couple bucks?

Celebrate Dairy Month by saluting our dairy farmers and eating (at least) three servings of dairy products a day-ice cream, smoothies and all kinds of yummy things included. For more information, recipes and tips about “banking on the basics” by purchasing nutrient-rich foods to maintain a nutritious and well-balanced diet, log on to www.dairymakessense.com.


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