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Food and environment messages for people of lower socio-economic status

Posted on Mar 6th, 20128 comments

At a recent meeting of community nutritionists, concerns were raised about the food messages for people on a limited budget and how they relate to the environment. Do we support home brands even though, in the long term they might lead to a reduction in competition and higher food prices? Do we suggest buying organic foods knowing that they cost more and are harder to access, especially if transport is an issue? What other strategies can we use to support both the environment and affordable eating?  We came up with some suggestions.  What can you add?

Author: Barbara (Queensland Health)

Comments

Barbara Radcliffe said...

I really like the idea of time budgetting rather than just money. Gardening in particular is difficult for those of us who are time poor (or think we are anyway!).

Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:00:35 PM

Deborah Blakley said...

I think it is idealistic to be encouraging economically disadvantaged people to not buy home/cheaper brands. We can however suggest they still look for Australian products within these options. Also I love the idea of neighbourhoods coming together to share home grown produce. One person may only have a passionfruit vine or a trellis of snow peas, but if a whole street was contributing this would add up to a lot of cost saving. I'd love to see more "produce stands" in our front yards and by foot paths in the suburbs!

Mar 8th, 2012 at 09:59:16 AM

Nicci Watt said...

I think another problem with suggesting that people buy organic foods is the confusion with the labelling standards. Anyone can put the word "organic" on their product without regulation. It is only "certified organic" that must meet strict standards and, according to Choice, there are currently 7 organic certifying organisations in Australia approved by AQIS - that's 7 logos to look out for just for certified organic meat! It would be terribly counter-productive to encourage the economically disadvantaged to invest in organic products for the long term sustainability of our food supply if their precious dollars aren't being spent on the real deal.

Mar 9th, 2012 at 11:13:44 AM

Liz said...

I agree with Deborah it is unrealistic to suggest that anyone shouldn't buy generic brand foods and we will only serve to discredit ourselves if we do try to go down that line. We have to keep in mind that for most people the environment is probably pretty low on a very long list of things that influence food choices. I think we are better off promoting a message of eating a diet that is as unprocessed as possible. Surely the impact that a large amount of food processing and packaging has on the environment is greater than the impact of the transport of fresh food.

Mar 16th, 2012 at 10:37:15 AM

Jan Dieckhaus said...

I was taught by my grand mother to always shop around the perimeter of a supermarket where they keep the perishables,then head into the middle.if you shop like that ,and with a list ,you will have very little or no waste.It just takes planning and no impulse buying.

Mar 21st, 2012 at 01:46:50 PM

Barbara Radcliffe said...

Thanks Jan. That seems like pretty good advice. It reminds me of Michael Pollan's Twelve Commandments for Serious Eaters where the first commandment is; "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." This seems sensible in relation to processed foods only - my grandmother wouldn't have recognised half the fruit and veggies that grow in my garden...

Mar 21st, 2012 at 02:41:33 PM

Katherine Munce said...

Again Dick Smith has recently been in the media around supporting local farmers. He bought a $100,000 crop off a beetroot farmer who would otherwise have to have ploughed it all back into the ground as supermarkets won't buy it off him because it costs more to produce than product coming from China. I always find it very interesting to think that we have a lot less influence over what we eat than we like to assume- the major supermarkets choose what to stock their shelves with and a lot of the nation's food choices are dictated by that product range. Anyway if you'd like to read more about Dick giving away the tins of beetroot to raise awareness, here's the link:
http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/beet-that-its-free-from-dick-smith/

Mar 26th, 2012 at 02:40:11 PM

Thomas said...

You raise an interesting point about the supermarkets Katherine. The question is do we buy what's on the shelves because the supermarkets stock it, or do they stock it because we buy it? Sure, it's not quite that simple, but a thought-provoker nonetheless. Even though our food system isn't quite the same as that of the USA, the doco Food Inc. provides some good insight on that question.

Apr 10th, 2012 at 08:35:10 AM

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