I received my email catalogue of this week’s grocery specials for my local Woolworths this morning (for any non-Australian readers, Woolworths is one of two major Australian supermarket chains).
Right there on the front page, the first item listed was a packet of Tim Tams (chocolate biscuits) for just $1.85. That is a saving of $1.04 off their normal retail price. Sounds like a good special and I love Tim Tams as much as the next person (though I hardly ever buy them) but when I saw them promoted as the number one item on special for the week it really made me stop for a minute and view the whole catalogue with a much more critical eye.
I can tell you that I was rather disappointed to find;
- Two full pages of lollies, chocolates and sweets.
- One full page of soft drink and crisps.
- Two full pages of alcohol specials.
- The three pages of fridge/freezer items contained a total of 27 items. 13 were pre-prepared meals, three were desserts, three cold drinks, two yoghurts, two dips and one was pastry. The remaining three were frozen vegetables.
- Nine of the 24 pages were non-edible items.
- There was one page of meat specials, one page of bakery items, one page of deli foods, one page of assorted cheeses and four pages of general edible groceries.
And then for the real kicker…
- On page 20 (of a 24 page catalogue) there were 4 fruit/vegetable items on special. 4. Just 4. Mandarins, celery, cauliflower and potatoes.
And this company brands itself as being ‘the fresh food people.’ I see page after page of junk food, pre-prepared meals and convenience food but little in the way of healthy choices. Apart from one fruit, three vegetables and some meat and deli choices, there are few ‘whole’ foods, and staples are virtually non-existant; no rice, no flour, no eggs, no butter. Even the family pet does better than your children, with a full page of pet food specials.
This is a company who maintains that our health is one of their key responsibilities;
“Grocery shopping is at the heart of family life. Healthy eating is an area where Woolworths can have a significant impact on the general health and wellbeing of all families in our community.”
(from the corporate website, Woolworths Limited).
I am disappointed at Woolworths on two levels;
1. Do they not watch the news? Are they unaware that 68% of adult men and 55% of adult women in 2009 are classified as overweight or obese? That the proportion of boys who are classified as obese has more than doubled from 4.5% to 9.7% since 1995, and that the number of obese girls sits at 5.8% (Australian National Health Survey)? It would be so much easier for families to make healthy choices if more whole foods were priced competitively against pre-prepared, packaged foods.
2. Interest rates may be low but we are mortgaged to the hilt. Transport costs continue to increase. Child care costs continue to rise. Unemployment rates are also rising. Given the state of the world economy, ‘frugal’ is in and many families are making do on less. Let’s give them a hand by making it easy for families to spend their money on healthy choices, on staples. Let’s give our children fruit and vegetables, not biscuits.
I am not advocating that we all have to go organic. I cannot afford to buy the best cuts of meat and too often have to forgo free-range due to the constraints of our budget but I do believe that we can be healthier and save money by starting with more ‘whole’ foods. More fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and staples. Less pre-prepared, additive filled, overpackaged choices. Less made in the factory, more made at home. And don’t get me wrong, for me cooking and baking are chores not passions, I will never love to cook. But if it means raising a happier, healthier family then I will put my mind to it and just do it.