Monday, February 28, 2011

$29.99 Cheese Whiz?

There's a great deal of debate swirling around regarding various forms of junk food taxation, and while it will likely be quite a while before we see our sodas rise in price, northern Canada's in the midst of its own healthier eating through "taxation" experiment.

Ok, it's not exactly taxation, instead it's the removal of pre-existing shipping subsidies on some less healthy foods. Of course with the subsidies removed, retailers are passing on costs to consumers leading to $30 Cheese Whiz and $28 hydrogenated margarine among others.

You see here in Canada we subsidize shipping of food to our northern communities but perhaps in an effort to save money, perhaps in an effort to improve dietary choices, or perhaps in an effort to do both, the government has rolled out a new "Food Mail" program that removes subsidies from less healthy and unhealthy products.

Health Canada will also be getting involved by providing nutrition classes to the communities serviced by the Nutrition North Canada program.

So while you'll still be able to buy actual cheese on a subsidized dime, Cheese Whiz I guess will have to be relegated to Christmas.

Will be interesting to track consumption and disease patterns over the coming years.

[Hat tip to journalist Jessica Murphy who alerted me to the program and who wrote about it herself a little while back]

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  1. I read an article on this subject, and I believe that juices that don't have added sugar will continue to be subsidized. I think the government needs a lesson on what "healthy" is. I wonder if chocolate milk will be 25 bucks or if they'll subsidize that too?

    The other difficulty is that even the subsidized food in the north is outrageously expensive and people often by the "junk" food because it's cheaper (the only thing many can afford). So what will they eat now? It's a conundrum.

  2. No doubt that "health" will be determined by Canada's Food Guide where in turn is determined in great part, by Canada's food industry and outdated nutritional dogma.

    And yes indeed, "unsweetened" juice (because God's sugar doesn't seem to count) will be subsidized.

    Overall though I'd guess the average Canadian's diet would grade between an F and a D+. Canada's Food Guide's more like a C+ so perhaps there'll be some improvement.

  3. Anonymous9:07 am

    I don't understand what the ultimate goal our gov't is trying to achieve here.

    If they give tax credits to junk food products, and their makers, in the end everyone pays more for national health care. That's basic economics 101. Every plus has a minus, ever asset has a liability, and ever pro has a con.

    Our gov't should be held accountable for allowing prices of natural food to rise to such already out of reach prices.

    When I worked a cafeteria years ago, fruit was often five times the price of a chocolate bar. My boss told me it's because fruit expired. Period. Okay, then.

    Why would we want to ever eat food that NEVER expires despite the manufacturer being bound by law to put some sell by a certain date stamp on it? That date only means the product will taste the best before that date, but will take probably several months to break down into something rubbery, but it will still be edible.

    This fact alone should have a greater awareness among the general public, not just those who have clued in by mistake like me by working in the food industry.


  4. Ew. I wouldn't pay $2.99 for a vat of Cheez Whiz and you couldn't pay me to spread margarine on my toast. Hopefully the prices will keep that junk out of people's cupboards. But it's sad that the prices of healthy foods are also high. I guess these commercialized foods were not part of the northern diet of so long ago so that is why it is so costly to transport them up there. Still, these stores are independent businesses that seem to be gouging the consumers. The government should employ more "eat local" strategies, although I'm not sure what naturally grows up there except wild game...a puzzle for sure.