Andrea Rondeau column: Price not the real barrier to eating fruits and veggies

There were a number of complaints that vegetables cost too much.

Everything is going up but our salaries.

At least that’s the way it sometimes seems. We write about taxes increasing every year. Likewise with insurance — I know my home insurance skyrocketed by several hundred dollars this year. Car insurance always seems to rise, too.

Then there’s the cost of food. At the grocery store we’ve certainly seen our bills rise in the last decade. But I do dispute some of the responses we’ve gotten from a story on our website this week about the new Canada Food Guide.

The guide makes recommendations about what constitutes a healthy diet. Unsurprisingly, it recommended eating lots of fruits and vegetables, a smaller portion of whole grains, and more plant-based proteins than meat, eggs and dairy. And needless to say, it recommends against regular consumption of processed and prepared foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.

In response, there were a number of complaints that vegetables cost too much. Really? Have you looked at the relative price of the meat you buy lately? While it’s true that the prices of all foods have gone up, including veggies and fruit, I think people’s reticence to pay for these items when they’ll happily pay top price for a good steak or even a mediocre microwave dinner has more to do with our societal view than dollars and cents.

From childhood it’s often reinforced that eating your vegetables is something you have to do to get to the good stuff. Some people never outgrow this mindset. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Children can be just as excited about veggies and fruit. One way to do it is to get them into gardening. If they can grow it and pick it themselves, they will look forward to eating it. And satisfaction is the best sauce. I think this principle doesn’t just work on kids either. Nothing is sweeter than a sun-ripened strawberry or peas in the pod you can pick and pop into your mouth, no matter what your age.

Which is another way you can cut down on your vegetable and fruit bill. Grow your own. A small garden in your yard will yield an astonishing amount of produce — in the summer months my family regularly gives excess to the food banks. If you don’t have a yard, you can consider getting a plot at a community garden.

All of which is to say that most of us have known we should eat more fruits and vegetable since long before the new Canada Food Guide came out this week. We just have a lot of excuses as to why we don’t want to change.

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