The Heart and Stroke Foundation released a ridiculous report this week about the cost of healthy foods across Canada. It found that Calgarians pay much more for healthy foods than say, Ottawa or even North Bay (if you know North Bay, you’d know it’s slightly… uhm… “out of the way”, adding transportation costs), and that in general, healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy foods. They are implying that price is the biggest factor in Canadians eating less healthy.
The report relies heavily on volunteers who fed their families for a week by shopping at regular well known grocery stores. Items included 6 apples, bag of potatoes, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, 1% milk, cheddar cheese, lean ground beef, peanut butter among other things. They all shopped at different, but well known stores, severely flawing (is that a word?) the study, because in order to be able to compare findings, the parameters have to be the same.
The findings of the report are astonishing: it concludes healthy food is more expensive than non-healthy foods and it says prices on healthy foods vary widely across the country.
I don’t know about Brooks or Calgary, but the prices they give for Ottawa are plain ridiculous: $13.31 for less than two pounds of lean ground beef? $9.70 for 900g of whole wheat pasta? I am sorry, but I don’t think I will be able to find these prices on any stores around town, not even down town in the shop where the senators shop. Lean ground beef is usually $3.99/pound, and if you follow the sales, between Loblaws, Independent, Loebs, IGA, Value Mart, Farm Boy, Walmart and what have you, you can always pick it up on sale for $1.99/pound. $9 for whole wheat pasta? Go to the most expensive store, and it is sitting there right beside the regular pasta for about $2/900gr.
Here’s a thought: homemade pasta sauce. Tomato sauce, lean ground beef, peppers, onions, mushrooms, any veggie you want to throw in there, can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste. make a big vat, freeze supper size portions, and you can have three, four meals made for about $12 TOTAL. And it’s all veggies in there.
No, I think the problem with Canadians eating less healthy foods is not price, but sheer laziness. It is much easier to open up a can of soup and zap it up, than to start by boiling down your beef bone, add celery, onion, chop your carrots, add some noodles, salt pepper. Of course, a can of soup is laden with fats and salts, whereas your own soup is lean and healthy.
The problem with healthy food is that you actually have to prepare it. You have to spend 30 mins before supper washing and chopping your veggies, and people don’t want to do that any more. They also do not want to drive to Walmart to pick up what’s cheap there, then head on to Loebs to pick up what’s on sale there, then head to Loblaws to shop sales there. If you plan your route, you can hit three, four stores on one saturday afternoon, and have bought only sale stuff to prepare suppers for the entire week. But you see, this requires effort.
It has nothing to do with price: picking up a pizza is so much easier, even though it’ll cost you $20 for one supper, whereas if you made pasta sauce, you would have had six suppers for the same money, and eat much, much healthier.
This report goes in my “give a break” file.