NUTRITION and VALUE-FOR-MONEY
Nutrition and malnutrition are important subjects - a recent study seems to show that a lot of human ageing is effectively to do with malnutrition or can be slowed by improving nutrition. Anyway, this small study is to do with the cost of and alternatives for a nutritious diet, and is of particular relevance to poor people worldwide (i.e. 80% of 3rd world countries and 15% of developed countries), and also to Scotsmen everywhere.
If simplified, diets are about 3 major components:
This study concentrates on protein, ignores vitamins and minerals, and has a little to do with energy. It tries to compare sources of protein and their cost.
Generally speaking, a human adult male weighing say 70 kg needs 3100 kilocalories of energy per day and 50 grammes of protein. Human children and especially babies need a much higher PROTEIN-CALORIE RATIO than that on which adults can survive. Thus an adult population living mainly or solely on grains or potatoes can survive without protein malnutrition (but will often be quite heavily built - since studies have also shown that bodies adjust their calorie intake upwards or downwards so as to ensure that enough protein is taken in - thus a diet high in protein can result in appetite suppression, and a diet low in protein can result in appetite enhancement).
Children need higher protein-calorie ratios in order to develop properly and without protein malnutrition. Thus children need not only a diet of say grains or potatoes but also higher protein sources such as beans, pulses, TVP, spinach and spinach varieties, cabbage, fresh or powdered milk, eggs, meat, fish etc..
The prices of such foods varies between regions and countries, and also by season. It is possible if one knows the current prices of such foods and their protein content and their protein-calorie ratio to compare their value as protein sources. From this comparison careful shoppers can decide to reduce or eliminate some particularly expensive sources of protein and to favour some more inexpensive protein sources. Of course taking this too far can have negative results - most foods are useful not only for their protein content but also for their vitamins, minerals and other properties. But in general such a guide will be useful to people.
As a general principle, protein from vegetarian sources are cheaper and from animal sources are more expensive. But that is not always true, e.g. areas around fishing ports can have really cheap fish, cattle ranching areas can have really cheap beef, and some vegetable sources are extremely expensive when they are grown a long way away. Vegetable sources are of course also usually (or always) more land-use-efficient (but I must state here that I am not a vegetarian myself). It is of course quite easy to compare the value of beef mince with prime steak (or is it?), but it is more difficult to compare a litre of milk with 12 eggs, 1 kilo of meat, 1 kg of cabbage and 1 kg of dried beans - I hope that these graphs help on that score.
Poor people generally know that a diet based on maize flour, spinach or rape, and dried fish is the way to go - the calculations and graphs show them to be right (but dont forget vitamin and trace element deficiencies for diets based solely on those items). But soya protein / textured vegetable protein is a new entrant in the field; some Soya offerings are sold in small packs for exhorbitant prices - much more expensive than real beef; but now there are emerging some new large packs which have less obvious marketing markup and which I used for the price listed here. In general, the kind of info on these pages may assist less the Zimbabwean poor (who already know the score) and more the Zimbabwean Middle Classes who are now being greatly squeezed by raging inflation and stagnant wages
This little web system has some figures and graphs for current (January 2000) prices in Zimbabwe and UK. If some persons viewing this can email us some prices from their countries then we can also put that stuff on this system, and update probably 3 times per year.
So email us with your figures (give prices in your local currency per Kilogramme or whatever, and also your current currency exchange rate per US$) on :firstname.lastname@example.org
List of Contents
|UK Values with Zim Values as Line||ht10000.htm|
|Zim Values - Higher Protein Group||ht10010.htm|
|Zim Values - Lower Protein Group||ht10020.htm|
|Zim Values - Better Value Foods||ht10030.htm|
|Zim Values - Worse Value Foods||ht10040.htm|
|Nutrition and Price Data Used to Create Graphs||nutrition.htm|