Fellow Hippies, we need to talk.
We need to talk about the economics of healthy eating. We need to talk about why, as a student, every time I visit my local health food store I feel priced out of a market that I truly believe in.
Health food is too expensive. Before I go on, let me clarify. When I talk about health food, I am not talking about goddamn Himalayan diamond encrusted goji berries picked under a full moon by the virgin priestesses of the Goddess. I am talking about basic fruits and vegetables that are not soaked in pesticide. I am talking about shower soap that doesn’t contain ingredients linked to organ system toxicity. I am talking about basic grocery needs.
Our Western society is obsessed with health, to the point that it’s become a status symbol. It’s also become an issue of class at the same time. Health, which may include an all organic diet, personal trainer, yearly overseas yoga retreat and overpriced linen pants, is positioned as something that we all should aspire to. But this has also lead to a very real monetization of health related industries. By turning their products and services into a luxury commodity, many companies have made these products and services unavailable to a large number of people.
The commodification of Health with a capital H is emblematic of some larger issues surrounding class in many western countries (and perhaps elsewhere, but I don’t know enough to speak to that), and the processes by which this happens are deeply problematic – but this will have to wait for another post, otherwise I could go on for AGES.
I’m interested in how we can change this; how can we shift the attitudes surrounding health food? How can we stop thinking about these products as luxury, niche products that you might buy as a treat, and start thinking about them as a different (and often better) option to your regular grocery purchases?
Perhaps we need to recognize that buying organic and locally grown items means that we’ll need to relearn how to work with what’s actually in season at the time – it’s far to easy to become accustomed to buying whatever you like, whenever. I know that I genuinely have no clue about when most fruits and veggies are in season – I have to rely on the little “from Australia” signs to work it out. And please don’t get me started on the supermarket chains *cough* COLES *cough* that wrap their organic produce in 6 layers of plastic and Styrofoam.
I think there’s a definite groundswell of support for a more ecologically sound lifestyle, and that includes organic produce, and a massive push to reduce the chemicals we’re exposed to in all types of products. There’s a new study every week pointing out that BPA is a bad idea, or sulfates are not so great for anyone, or that organic produce really does seem to be better for you. Also, that NO ONE EVER should eat a McRib.
So can someone please tell me why I still need to spend twice as much for organic produce, and why I have to visit 7 different shops to find a basic shower gel that’s chemical free AND affordable?!?