Healthy foods getting heavier in the pocket

It was the kind of news that brought me relief this week. And it was not because it was good news. Far from it. In fact, it was bad news, but at least it confirmed I was not going bananas.

The story of a young woman who graduated with a Master of Education degree (cum laude) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal a few weeks ago puts it more succinctly.

Esther Nokuvela, who was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2019, expressed in a interview how relieved she was to finally know what was wrong with her. That way, she said, she began to focus on the things that would help her cope. She mentioned among the things she started to do after reading on depression and anxiety a routine of waking up at the break of dawn to meditate and exercise and eating healthier food.

Information is power.

So, this week when Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) announced that there has been an eye-watering increase in the prices of vegetables such as onions, green peppers and products such milk and cheese, I felt a reassuring calmness. I was not going nuts after all.

The data agency confirmed that my favourite part of the supermarket – the fruit and vegetable section – is becoming more unaffordable. Stats SA said vegetables were 23.1% more expensive last month than the same period last year. “This is the highest annual rate since November 2007 – more than 15 years ago.” Imagine!

“Products pushing up the rate include onions (up 52.8%), carrots (up 29.8%), peppers (up 25,0%) and potatoes (up 24.4%),” Stats SA reported.

Some of us who found solace in fruits and vegetables, when the prices of meat and cooking oil went through the roof, have been huffing and puffing at the price of onions, cabbage and carrots, milk and eggs. Cheese is a luxury!

The cost of living is so high that the cheapest 2-litre of milk on the shelf gets my nod each time otherwise be prepared to part with R40 when the amount is rounded off. It is insane.

And should it happen that you have taken the wrong brand because the packers placed “reduced price” on the wrong spot, it feels like a kick in the gut when you get to the till. The stores not only write the special but specify the brand. Imagine paying more for a brand of milk that you wouldn’t ordinarily buy because you thought you were saving R5 only to discover that you didn’t read the fine print.

Like Nokuvela, I have made a commitment to do more things that will bring me vegetable and fruit price relief. I will empty more flower pots to make more room for growing more veggies. Hell, I will even start a raised vegetable patch. I must just find a way to keep the moles away from my patch.

And alas, the onion prices were just a precursor to more bad news – the interest rates were raised by another 50 basis points bringing the prime lending rate to 11.75%

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