Nutritious food is too expensive for many
Published: July 06, 2012 11:00 AM
I just had to reply to Tom Fletcher’s June 29 column,“‘Poverty’ declines, no one notices.” Note ‘poverty’ is in quotes. Apparently, although 2010 Census says people living in poverty decreased from 9.5 per cent nationwide to 9.0 per cent, it wasn’t a big headline. I should say! For a developed nation in the G8 this is nothing to be proud of.
Mr. Fletcher explains all of the hocus pocus around the LICO (low-income cut-off) is merely a political smokescreen. Instead we should understand that the most reliable indicator of poverty is obesity. He goes on to lecture the poor by telling them if they only made better choices at the grocery store they wouldn’t have this problem. Finally he states “Which diet you choose isn’t a function of money, but rather one of education and self-discipline.”
So I thought I’d take him up on his “choice” argument and checked out some food prices. Assuming I am poor and obese (i.e. living under the LICO) I realized that after paying for rent, utilities and transit my food choices were considerably narrowed. Shall I choose lean burger at $11 per kilo or regular at $5.50? Shall I choose pure fruit juice at $2 per litre or fruit drink at $1? Butter at $4 or margarine at $2? A loaf of whole grain bread at $5 or white wonderbread at $3? So many choices to make! But as a self-disciplined person I only purchase what I can afford. Even if it is loaded with fat, sugar, carbs and empty calories, it’s a lot cheaper than real food.
And when I bring home the food to my substandard apartment, I use my hotplate to prepare it, choosing whether to fry it or boil it. Nutritious food and a proper oven are often a luxury to a person living under the LICO.
Mr. Fletcher should know this is called “food insecurity” and a lot of people in Canada are experiencing it. Nutritious food is too expensive for many. The health of tens of thousands of Canadians is being threatened because good food is not affordable. I would say the reality is “Which diet you choose is a function of money, not education and self-discipline.”