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There’s no question that everything, including food, just seems to keep getting more and more expensive.

Add in a food desert, and people are paying crazy prices for fresh food the rest of us take for granted.

So when a doctor tweeted about the relative costs of fast food compared to fresh food, her thread went viral, with lots of people weighing in on both sides.

Emily Porter is an ER doctor and cancer survivor living in Austin, Texas.

When she tweeted about the cost of food, she was urging empathy and asking people not to judge others, but she had to know it was going to be controversial:

A lot of Twitter users doubted that a medical doctor would eat McDonald’s for lunch, as though they don’t rack up thousands in debt from medical school, and as though they don’t crave fast food like other humans.

But Dr. Porter took the time to explain her background:

Not only did she grow up poor, but she worked on the front lines of poverty, watching others in her community purchase what they could afford at a fast food restaurant.

She even took the time to explain the food desert in her area, and the fact that people basically only shop at the dollar store.

The responses to her tweet ran the gamut. Some came with empathy and agreement, others did not.

Apparently some even suggested that the poor should invest in Blue Apron meals, which surprised me, because meal kits tend to be pricey. They definitely cost more than McDonald’s.

Here was Dr. Porter’s response:

But that is the point of such a tweet–starting a conversation that needs to be had.

Some people argued that fast food eaters were lazy:

To which others replied, it’s not just about the money. It’s about the cost of time and labor too.

Some people even argued that the poor should buy a rotisserie chicken at Sam’s Club or Costco.

Few pointed out that those are loaded with sodium, but some people did point out the absolute tone-deafness of such a suggestion.

Bored Panda said that a major argument, that cooking healthy food is cheaper, isn’t necessarily true.

And unlike Twitter users, they brought the receipts:

According to the results of a meta-analysis published in 2013 in BMJ Open, a healthier diet costs $1.48 more a day, which would add up to $540.20 a year, and for a family of four, the amount would equal to $2,160.80.

The article did note that a UK study disagrees with this assessment, so maybe it’s regional. The UK is very different from the US in a lot of ways, maybe it would generally be less expensive to eat healthier in the UK and not in the US.

A lot of people suggested eating beans.

Many users, however, completely agreed with Dr. Porter’s assessment of the cost of eating.

And they pointed out a lot of things that it’s easy to overlook from a privileged point-of-view.

Like the cost of time…

…the fact that just because something is possible, doesn’t mean everyone has the ability to make it work…

…and the simple fact that fast food is easier to chew than, say, a carrot.

It’s safe to say that there are no easy answers to this question, but one thing is for sure: it’s a frustrating situation that needs to improve.

What do you think? Does Dr. Porter have a point? Is this system set up to be broken? Let us know in the comments.


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