Danish fat tax: a step in the wrong direction

By Joelle Robichaud

Denmark’s recent move to add a fat tax — costing their consumers about 3 dollars per kilo of saturated fats — does not address any of the implications of the mass-production of foods. At the very least, if a similar fat tax were introduced to Canada, it definitely would not improve the habits or health of the general population.

In North America, at least, food changed drastically after the Second World War. The television was introduced around this time and at this point a need was perhaps created to entice people — especially housewives, who were in charge of food production at home — to buy foods that were easy to prepare at a lower cost. Whether this was due to clever advertising, the rise of the need for women to work more effectively around the home, or the television itself is another debate. The tv dinner was a common occurance, and I bet most people who read this article can admit to eating at least some sort of “tv dinner” that took little time to prepare. I know my microwave has been my best of friends at times for its ability to zap me a fried chicken and mashed potato meal straight from a plastic container. Yum.

Anyone who admits to eating these dinners should not, however, proceed to have an anxiety attack because they “chose” to eat processed, easy-to-make, crappy foods. Easy foods were at first a good idea, but they were unfortunately influenced by food lobbyists to make it cheaper to produce them. Good business, however, does not always lead to good product.

The product, in fact, is food that is making us fat and sick. Taxation is not the best way to fix this problem. Implicating the consumer for the choices that producers are making seems rather backwards, doesn’t it? In fact, because the producers want to make food as “cost-effective” as possible due to the “demand” set by our large populations, they have given themselves license — with the aid of the lobbied governments — to put products into our foods that are not healthy. Hormones, genetic mutations and highly processed corns are just the beginning.

Introducing a tax would not yield better education, nor does it yield better farming or production so more healthy options are available. It does not eliminate the methods used by producers of our “healthier” foods from messing up too — how spinach causes E. Coli poisoning in such “sophisticated” and “regulated” times is beyond me.

Despite relating this to North America especially, the example in Denmark begets a slippery slope of blaming the consumers for choices they never made. If governments were not so influenced by corporations’ fallacious arguments for the need of producing foods the way they do, they would perhaps be more inclined to punish the wrong-doers rather than those who have no choice but to eat cheaply and efficiently so they have time to work for the majority of their lives.


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