Eating Healthy is More Expensive than Eating Fast Food

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 7th, 2013

Week in Review

Fast food workers recently picketed to raise the minimum wage. To a ‘living’ wage.  Saying they can’t afford to live without a ‘living’ wage.  Even though they have been ‘living’ on the wages they have now.  For however low their wages may be they have been able to put food on the table.  In large part because of fast food.  Because of those low wages.  Making fast food a great value for the money.  Of course if they raised everyone’s wages they would have to raise the price of their food to cover the higher labor cost.  Making fast food less of a value for the money.  Raising the prices such that some families will have no choice but to buy less.  And go hungry more often.

It may not be the healthiest food out there.  But it is the most affordable food out there.  Allowing people to eat until they’re full and then some.  But there are some who want to raise the cost of fast food.  Such as those picketing minimum wage workers.  And Canadians concerned about healthy diets (see Eating healthy adds $2,000 a year to family grocery bill by CBC News posted 12/5/2013 on CBC).

A family on a healthy diet can expect to pay $2,000 more a year for food than one having less nutritious meals, say researchers who recommend that the cost gap be closed…

“Our results indicate that lowering the price of healthier diet patterns — on average about $1.50/day more expensive — should be a goal of public health and policy efforts, and some studies suggest that this intervention can indeed reduce consumption of unhealthy foods,” Dariush Mozaffarian, the study’s senior author and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and his co-authors concluded.

Eating a healthier diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts would increase food costs for one person by about $550 a year, the researchers said. Diets rich in processed foods, meats and refined grains were considered unhealthy…

Previously, Mozaffarian’s team suggested taxing less healthy foods together with subsidies for healthier foods would balance price differences.

Does anyone see the failed logic in this taxing scheme?  Poorer people tend to eat fast food and richer people tend to eat the healthier fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts.  So they are advocating raising the taxes on the poorer to make the food of the richer less costly.  In hopes of getting the poorer to eat the food of the richer.  But if they do just who will pay the tax on the bad food to subsidize the good food?  On the one hand the poorest people will pay more for their food.  On the other hand if the taxing scheme works the source of the subsidies will vanish.  Either way this taxing scheme will force the poorer to pay more for their food.  Or it will simply require higher taxes to replace the lost subsidies.  Which is Canada’s problem in the first place.

Why are people struggling to buy food?  Because of high taxes.  And a weakened economy those higher taxes bring about.  For adding a ‘bad food’ tax on fast food will surely reduce sales.  As is the goal.  But with fewer sales you need fewer people.  So some people will lose their job.

If you want people to eat healthier just let them get a decent job so they can afford to.  Cut taxes and regulations to spur economic activity.  Let the demand for workers increase.  Which will increase wages.  And make it easier for everyone to put healthier fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts on the table.

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