Sometimes I really wonder about the future of the human race, at least the American version of it. I’m talking about people who live in America and partake, for the most part, in the American culture. Yes, there are a lot of great things about our culture, but some of the not-so-good things are causing some serious damage to our future as a strong nation.

Take, for example, the importance we put on getting a good deal. Whether it is for a piece of furniture or a box of waffles, it has become ingrained in us to look for the best deal that our money can buy. If we can get a small burger for $1.29, that’s okay, but if we get the bigger burger that also comes with a large fries and large drink for $2.99, well that’s an even better deal! Thirty more ounces of soda for an extra ten cents – yes please!

Now who can argue wanting to get the most for the money – it seems it would be foolish to think any other way – we all work hard for what we earn, and yet our blind allegiance to the almighty deal, when it applies to food, is costing us our health.

So, what are we really buying with that extra ninety-nine cents when we get the value meal or the keg-sized vat-o-soda? In most cases, we are buying extra calories, made up of lots of unhealthy fats and sugars. Rarely do we get anything of nutritional value when we succumb to these “deals” because selling us the fats and sugars is very cost effective for the food producers and increases their profits tremendously. And our thirst for a bargain has not been overlooked by the media and food marketers who often make “the deal” irresistible to us and impossible to refuse.

But it’s hardly a value when it comes to our health, as these extra calories, fats and sugars cause us to gain weight, increase our risk for developing diabetes and heart disease, give us mood and energy swings, and generally decrease the length of our lives. The sad truth is that a large percentage of us no longer pay attention to the quality of what we are buying when it comes to our food, as long as it’s cheap and it tastes good.

So what’s it going to take for the American public to understand that the true value of food is its effect on our overall health and not its effect on our wallets? Is it going to be a diagnosis of diabetes or cardiovascular disease that will finally get someone to pay attention to what they are consuming? By then, it’s most likely too late. We have gotten used to paying the minimum amount for food, and in most cases, we are getting the minimum amount of nutrition. Unfortunately, people don’t see that we are paying higher prices in other ways.

Yes, it’s probably going to cost people a little more to buy fresh produce instead of that drink bucket at the corner market, but how much more is it going to cost people later in life for hospital visits, expensive medications, and treatments? Possibly their life savings. And there’s also the increased cost to all Americans for national health care programs. I know that most people want to live to a ripe old age and have a good quality of life as well. For that to happen, we have to make our own “value meals” that put nutritional value before the dollar value.

You can create your own value meal that includes fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean meats. Think of it like this: the slightly higher cost you may pay now is really an investment in your health. Better to pay yourself now than a pharmaceutical company later, don’t you think? Eat well.