TICKET – “$300.45. Do you pay cash, debit or credit?» asked the girl at the grocery checkout. What?! I expected $200, because I received several people at home. But not at $300 for a half-empty basket! What did it contain? Ah yes, cheddar, nuts, organic chicken, lactose-free yogurt, green grapes… all healthy foods.
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A Harvard School of Public Health meta-analysis that looked at the situation in several places around the world shows that, on average, it costs $1.50 more per person per day to eat healthily, which gives an amount of $550 per year. And that was in 2013, long before the inflation we are experiencing today and which limits many people’s choice to “what’s on special”!
I also see it in my personal life. For a few years, I’ve been watching what I eat, but it’s possible just because I can afford it. My fruits and vegetables, cereals and local cheese cost me two to three times more than if I buy junk food or processed foods. It frustrates me, because eating well is the basis!
I am clearly aware that I am one of the privileged in society to be able to afford these foods. However, eating well should not be a privilege. It should be a right like access to education or health care.
And people want to eat healthy: the Annual Food Price Report 2022 conducted by four Canadian universities indicates that “70.5% of Canadians surveyed said that health was the most important factor in their food choices”.
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My three tips
While waiting for collective solutions, I found three tips to save on healthy food.
- Long live anti-food waste applications, such as flash food, Too Good to Go or Backup, which allow consumers to save on groceries, such as fruits and vegetables or meat. Participating merchants liquidate their surplus or food that is approaching the expiry date. This is user-friendlyfree and I bought items at 50%!
- When it’s the season, we can take advantage of the public markets to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables from Quebec. Buying directly from the merchant is often cheaper than going to the grocery store. Raspberries from Quebec at $3 instead of $6, yes!
- Visit them small neighborhood merchants rather than the big chains. For example, on Ontario Street in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district is a small fruit store. Before inflation, I found iceberg lettuces at $1 or even strawberries at $3. Since then, the prices have gone up a bit, but it’s still very affordable compared to the supermarket across the street.
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Long term solutions
Premier François Legault has decided to give most Quebecers $500 to help them fight inflation. As this is a temporary strategy, long-term solutions must be found to make healthy eating accessible to everyone.
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Subsidies to local food producers could be a good start. For example, Gogo Quinoa, a Laval company that offers nutritious quinoa-based products (pasta, snacks, cereals), has entered into a financial partnership with the Fondaction investment fund, with the aim of developing the marketing of health products. in big supermarkets like Loblaws and Walmart. It’s local, it’s healthy and it’s affordable to Quebecers. We need more!
Then, what are we waiting for to tax junk food and processed food companies? We know, however, the number of health problems attributed to it… not normal for it to be cheaper than healthy and minimally processed food.
These taxes could precisely be reinjected into subsidies for these companies that work in healthy food.
In the meantime, the trend is emerging: the rich have more access to healthy food and can invest in their health capital for the long term. While those in need will have to use imagination to feed themselves and will be more at risk of developing chronic diseases because of junk food which costs a fraction of the price…
It’s a sacrifice we shouldn’t make – and one that can be costly in the long run, both financially… and humanly.