Friday, October 23, 2009

The High Cost of Trying to Live a Healthy Life

There has been a debate about the so-called "soda tax" that has been proposed for sugary drinks. There are a lot of people who oppose it although it's an initiative that would go hand in hand with promoting healthier living. If it costs more to buy it, then you'll stop buying it and choose a healthier alternative or a healthier lifestyle. It's similar to what they've done with tobacco products. Also, they feel that the money from taxing soda would help to supplement the healthcare overhaul.

There's also a debate about high fructose corn syrup that's been going on for quite a while. The evils of hfcs are touted, but there are also councils that present information saying that it's harmless. It's very prevalent and shows up in the oddest places. For instance what the hell is hfcs doing in my Stove Top Stuffing? Yeah, some stuffing is made from cornbread, but hfcs isn't supposed to be in my cornbread either!

Debate about these things and the introduction of the soda tax are ways that our government is looking to fight obesity. There are now many more commercials about making healthy choices when it comes to food, and fast food places are offering healthier options. That's great, but it doesn't change the fact that in order to eat healthier you have to pay an arm and a leg for groceries. Processed foods and sugary drinks are much cheaper than fresh fruits, vegetables, and organically produced goods. Minorities continue to have problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. These are all diseases that could be controlled or stabilized with exercise and a healthy diet. While grocery shopping, when given the choice between fresh fruits and veggies or a bag of chips for their kids to snack on , the chips will overwhelmingly be chosen because they're cheaper. Also, grocery stores tend to run specials on the less healthy stuff, so that makes people more apt to buy them since they're getting a better deal than usual. In this economy every penny counts even more than ever, so if eating healthier means having to pay more for your groceries then it'll continue to fall by the wayside. That money has to go to more mundane things like the mortgage or the rent, heat, and electricity. Those are just the basics. That doesn't even take into account such things as clothing, car payments, and car insurance.

If you want people to have healthier lifestyles and lower insurance rates, you've got to give them alternatives that will work for them. The majority of the country does not live in a McMansion and drive their SUV to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to pick out fresh produce and organic ingredients to make a healthy balanced meal for their children. They're living in small houses, cramped apartments, or trailers; hoping that the car will crank so that they can go to A & P for a box of frozen fried chicken, some instant mashed potatoes, and a can of green beans (oops forgot the packet of Kool-Aid) so that their children can have a hot meal.


  1. We're encouraged to eat 5 portions of fruit & veg a day in the UK yet the cost of fresh produce remains high. That frustrates the hell outta me. I eat relatively healthily - my weekly shopping bill reflects that. BUT if money is needed for something unexpected then the fresh produce is 1st thing I economise on as it is so expensive.

  2. Excellent blog. You really covered the topic and HH has been noticing that it's harder and harder to keep within the budget at the grocery store with a healthy basket of food.

    My food on the other hand comes in one form. A bag...

    HH always says that it would make life a whole lot easier if people could eat like cats.... a scoop of kibble and no thinking about what to fix.

    I bet she would miss her favorites though. Anyway, HH said to tell you she enjoyed the blog post. Great job!!

    Hugs and *nosetaps*


  3. Hi Michelle!
    I'm kinda awash with this post...Is it about "high" cost of fruits & vegetables,or gov't telling you what you should do?
    First off,while I can't speak for the UK,in Calif fruits & vegetables are one of the most reasonablly priced items to be found at the grocery store.Forget Organic,There is no nutritional difference.
    Look at it this way a lb of apples is about 6-8 apples. Not on sale they usually cost $1.69,or on sale around a buck.Either way, each apple is less than a quarter. Oranges,peaches,& bananas the same.Vegetables & grapes are usually an even better deal. have you ever tried to eat a whole lb of green beans? You'd be uncomfortably stuffed,they're normally in the $2/lb range...
    A bag of potato chips is usually a lb or less,and will run $2.99 or more not on sale.
    Which is the better bargain?

    Now a more important question is do you think ,as an adult, that someone should tell you,not suggest,what you are going to eat?And why do you think taxes should be punitive.
    If you can put a "sin tax" on soda pop,you can also put one on buying music CDs that you don't like,or tax people who have animals that "make noise" or raise puppies that you think they shouldn't have. Once you cross the line where taxes are truly meant as punishment rather than to be used for the benefit of the community,everything becomes suspect.Bad idea to tax folks when you don't like what they are doing,since they can come back & do the same to you. Where does that end?
    And besides,if you tax that soda because it has "sugar" in it,you will also have to tax that apple,since an apple is higher in sugar than the soda....

  4. It doesn't seem like the pricing for fresh fruits and vegetables is on par with the pricing for processed foods. Very rarely do you see a special in your local grocery store offering produce at over 50% off with your store discount card. Also, when you have very little money to spend on groceries, you'll want to buy something that will last you for a while. Fresh fruit and vegetables tend to go bad relatively quickly, making it necessary to purchase them every week. When looked at in that regard, although fresh produce might seem cheaper, it isn't. Of course one might say "Why not buy frozen fruits and vegetables? They're just as good." Well they can be more expensive than the fresh ones, which once again takes away money that could be better used elsewhere.

    As for the tax on soda, I'm not an advocate. I just know that it does fall along the same lines as taxing tobacco products. I think the government does see it as a way to make people buy less of it, therefore cutting down on the prevalence of diabetes and other diseases. If the government is going to try to use a soda tax to cut down on healthcare expenditures, it will more than likely go the way of the dodo.

    My point with this post is that if you want people to make healthier, better choices then they need to know that it's not going to put more of a strain on them financially than they're already feeling.

  5. Well,you can lead a horse to water,...but you can not make him drink the gatorade rather than the beer.

    Adults have to be able to make their own bad choices, or they are not adults,and it is not the job of gov't to infantilize adults. Children,unless they are the property of the State,have to be taken care of by the adults who are responsible for them.You can hope to educate,but,free people do not have to perform to gov't standards."Sin" taxes only get passed because folks figure that they do not apply to them,it's the other guy that should pay for his sin of drinking a soda.

    But,what is sauce for the goose...(please forgive my overuse of cliches,but they do fit the situation).If you think today that it is OK to tax someone more for their soda,tomorrow someone can decide that it is OK to tax you for something they want to control in your life.

    Gov't does not care if it is good or bad,they just want to collect the funds. Gov't is a big sucking blackhole that only wants to feed itself. Any time it can get its hands on more of your money,it will. And it never lets go;not even if you could show the tax was not working to accomplish it's stated goal,or that there was no longer a need(if there ever was in the first place)for such a tax. Bureaucracy feeds itself,first,last,always.That is the nature of the beast.

    Would such a tax help anyone outside of gov't? No,adults are going to buy what they want;unless you can figure out some way to make a perfectly ordinary item illegal.But gov't doesn't want that,there's no "tax" to be made by that...

    So once again,does this help anyone? Empathically no! The person will end up spending more for what they were going to buy anyway.If there is a budget concern,it will not come from out of those items they wanted to buy.You can't force good sense,and the folks with good sense suffer also. As that one soda they might have a month costs them more also! So yes,it will cause a financial strain on folks,but it will not stop them.It just feeds the gov't beast.

    ps. I hate grocery shopping and would only do it once a month or less if I could...Fresh produce keeps for me at least 2 weeks, usually up to 3, if it hasn't already been eaten