Lack of stringent oversight grants industry permission to play with our food

The View From Here

Tom Henihan,
Smoky River Express


Those who process, package, transport and retail food have far too much discretion as to its composition, the weight and volume by which it is marketed and ultimately its price.
The farmer and the consumer, the two principle parties in this equation are relegated to by-standers in the entire scheme of things.
The greater the distance between the producer and the consumer, the more expensive things get and the more questionable their quality.
Now, when food worldwide has become so expensive it would seem the right time for all levels of government to mobilize and do whatever is possible to mitigate the situation.
Here in Canada, the value of the loonie against the U.S. dollar is cited as the reason that imported food has become so expensive.
However, the plummeting price of oil should offset the low Canadian dollar by making the production, processing and shipping of food less expensive. There is also little evidence that food produced here in Canada is substantially less expensive than imported meat and produce.
Of course, this should come as no surprise, as deception and trickery are always in play with the manufacture and marketing of food. Everything from the listing the health information against completely unrealistic portion size, to putting “cholesterol free” on vegetable oil, when vegetables do not contain cholesterol.
Another sleight of hand commonly used to create the illusion of abundance is packaging that is twice the size of the contents, this being especially the case with breakfast cereals.
These tactics are willful efforts to bamboozle the consumer with every foil and distraction while those who should regulate the issue look the other way.
Protecting the consumer from these confidence tricks and shell games is one of the practical functions our government is supposed to fulfill, but for the most part, they are either indifferent or silently complicit.
Not alone has food become alarmingly expensive, but there is a continuous ruse to obscure the actual price of most products. “Six dollars for 5lbs.” or “Buy two get one free,” until one cannot grasp the actual price except in relation to the “deal” being offered. In fact, it appears nothing has an actual price or any relative sense of value.
The oldest price psychology gimmick known to man, almost as old as the world’s oldest profession, is the Perpetually appended /99c.
It is remarkable that this shameless ploy still exists here in Canada, when essentially there is no such thing as ninety-nine cents now that it defaults to the dollar.
Food like water is elemental to our survival and as such, the ability for everyone to acquire food should be inviolable, especially the essentials such as milk, eggs, bread, rice, potatoes and vegetables. Blatant profiteering and manipulation should never be condoned, especially now when food is becoming prohibitively expensive to a growing number of people.
We have governments that intrude unnecessarily in many aspects of our lives, who often try, under the banner of social justice and health, to influence our habits and social behaviour.
However, it is curious that the same governments exercise little or no influence to ensure food is affordable for everyone, as affordable food is at the very foundation of social justice and a primary factor in maintaining health.


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