I caught most of Extreme Couponing on TLC last night (don't judge me!) and I was amazed at the amount of groceries each shopper hauled off. In one case, somebody got a ton of stuff and paid zero. The guy ended up donating the items to charity. Good thing.
But something that captured my attention, besides the free bounty, was that after each person's supermarket adventure, the narrator mentioned what each person took away in frozen pizzas, candies, sodas and sports drinks. I have nothing against people buying these products, but at no time were fruits and vegetables mentioned. Nobody ever said, we save so much on groceries that it leaves us money to buy healthier options.
This is significant because it highlights the way consumers are drawn in, and how we react to market forces. We are so quick to criticize those who buy pizzas and chips with food stamps, but marvel and emulate those who do the same with coupons. Again, if people want to buy that stuff, more power to them, but we can't be outraged by the food purchases people make when that's what we've been conditioned to do.
If our state representative, Richard Raymond, wants to work on a bill that would prohibit people from using food stamps to buy chips, sodas, and frozen pizzas, who am I to stop him? But him justifying his position by pointing to the obesity problem our youth is faced with is myopic and biased. He may be able to get poor people off of Twinkies, but then how do you handle the rest of the populace that is hunkering down on nothing but steak?
Those who are fortunate enough to pay for their own meals might get a tongue-lashing from their doctors for being obese. But who goes to the doctor on a regular basis? Hell, people don't like to take high blood pressure medication; I figure they see that as a sign of weakness. So how are they going to start eating broccoli when Quarter Pounders taste so much better?