Grow it or tax it: The carrot or the stick?

A recent article on Stuff showed two different approaches to healthier eating. The first approach was from Ana Wares who believes that people can take responsibility for healthy eating themselves by growing their own fresh produce. She thinks that it is a lack of education that is stopping people making the most of their backyards. Her approach is literally the carrot approach. People can grow their own food and the healthy eating that results from that is its own reward.

Mt Wellington resident Ana Wares is against a sugar tax and believes there should be better education on growing produce.

Vege gardens used to be a normal part of Kiwi life. I remember my grandparents having one as well as a hen house for eggs. My Mum grew veggies and we had a grapevine, feijoas, nectarines and a plum tree on our 1/4 acre section in Kawerau. It was wonderful being able to eat as much as I wanted fresh from the tree or the vine. One of my happy childhood memories is eating peas out of the shell with my Mum that we had just picked.

[…] A recent OECD obesity update?placed New Zealand as the world’s third most obese nation behind Mexico and the United States of America.

Exercise NZ chief executive Richard Beddie says processed foods need to be taxed to help combat obesity.

Exercise NZ?chief executive Richard?Beddie?said by having a tax on highly processed foods,?physical activity and “real food” could be subsidised.

Richard Beddie wants the stick and handout approach to healthy eating. He wants to punish people for unhealthy choices with a tax and then use their money to provide subsidies.

And although soft drinks were one of the “worst consumables”?many?breakfast cereals were “nothing but processed rubbish and sugar,” Beddie?said. […]

[…] Before the September general election Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader?Winston Peters was campaigning for GST to be removed from “basic food”.

Since then Health Minister David Clark said a sugar tax in New Zealand remained?an option.

University of Auckland?senior research fellow at the school of population health?Stefanie?Vandevijvere?said?taxing heavily processed?foods would be more effective than taxing sugar?and the revenue could be used for public health objectives such as removing GST from fruits and vegetables. […]

It all sounds so complex and costly. Why can’t people make their own decisions and choices? Why does the government have to interfere? Raising the price of tobacco didn’t make people smoke less but it has led to Dairy and Superette owners being turned into human punching bags. Taxing heavily processed foods will make them more desirable than ever. Are we going to see people bashed in the future for a packet of sugary cereal?

Mt Wellington resident Ana Wares voted against putting a sugar tax on processed foods.

There were people that worked hard who could not afford healthy?food and she wondered why people should be forced to pay more, Wares said.

“A lot of people can’t?afford to change their eating habits,” Wares said.

But she did support?removing GST from?fruits and vegetables as well as educating people on how to grow their own food, she said.

She has set up a vegetable garden, kept?bees and was?growing her own produce?which she planned on giving?away.