Removing GST from fruit and vegetables is a limp response to a real problem, says Geoff Simmons

Removing GST from fruit and vegetables is a limp response to a real problem, says Geoff Simmons

By Geoff Simmons

At my 5th birthday party, my mother served up jelly mixed with grated carrot. I clearly remember one of my cousins being aghast at this perversion of a sacred dessert.

He viewed it as an attempt to poison us by stealth.

I did not notice the carrot until it was pointed out to me, so it was probably a tactic my mother repeatedly used to great success.

Labour has tried to slip carrot into our jelly on a national scale. Tucked away in its tax package is a relaunch of the idea of taking GST off fruit and vegetables.

It is hoping that this will trick us all into eating a little healthier, ultimately resulting in savings for our health system.

There is little doubt that there is a problem.

True to our pioneering heritage, New Zealand is at the cutting edge of the obesity epidemic, with the latest figures putting us just behind the United States and Mexico in the fat stakes.

More recent work by Bill Gates shows that obesity's evil twin, diabetes, lurks not far behind - we are in the top five developed nations for that too.

But is this the right response to the problem?

First, let's look at the focus on fruit and vegetables. The consensus is that we eat too much food energy (that is calories, particularly fats and sugars), and not enough micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals).

Fruit and vegetables are generally high in fibre, which fills us up but doesn't give us too much energy.

Sure, some fruits are high in sugar but the positive impact of the fibre generally outweighs that - as long as we don't just drink the juice.

And veges, in particular, are the best possible source of most vitamins and minerals. This is solidly backed up by the science, regardless of all the contradictory studies you read about in the media.

So we need to eat more fruit and vegetables, that much we know.

Is taking GST off them the right approach?

Changing relative prices does seem to help. We humans are programmed to seek out energy-dense foods.

Food processing has allowed for cheap, safe, convenient food, but this has come at the expense of increased energy density and dwindling micronutrients.

Over the past few decades these energy-dense foods have become cheaper relative to nutritious foods. As a result, price-conscious consumers tend to eat this sort of food.

But it is a false economy, because our health system ends up picking up the bill.

How much difference would removing GST on fruit and vegetables make? On average it would save each household just over $2.50 a week.

A trial of this concept led to households spending all the savings on more fruit and veges, which is encouraging - at least they didn't spend it on booze and fags.

Assuming a household spent all that extra money on fruit and vegetables, it might be enough for an extra bag of apples. Given that fewer than half of New Zealanders get their 5+ a day, it seems unlikely that this policy alone will be the silver bullet.

Nevertheless, it comes with a price tag of $250 million.

But this is only half the problem. When we look at the spending by different household groups, a different picture emerges.

The poorest 10% of New Zealand families spend about $10 a week on fruit and vegetables. At the other end of the spectrum, the richest 10% spend around $30 a week.

This means taking GST off fruit and vegetables will give the poorest just over $1 extra a week. That will barely make a dent in their food bill. Meanwhile, the richest will get just under $4.

That is before we even start to deal with the tricky boundary issues. Labour's plan to take GST off fresh fruit and vegetables opens a Pandora's box in that regard.

Currently we have a very simple system of GST collection, which makes our collection rate one of the highest in the world. While removing GST from fruit and veges is a fairly minor change, it would introduce border issues into the system.

For instance, how will it deal with frozen, cooked or processed fruit and veges? Will growers be able to claim expenses for growing fruit and vegetables that are to be used for cooking or processing purposes? What if a salad on sale includes some cooked elements and some not?

While this policy might be a step in the right direction, it is not really going to help the people who need it the most.

And when you take into account the administration issues, you have to wonder if it is really worth it.

Thankfully there are alternatives that could better deal with these problems. One proposed by researchers Des O'Dea, Delvina Gorton and Cliona Ni Murchu is the use of food vouchers.

These have had a bad rap in their time in the United States, but have had a resurgence thanks to electronic card technology.

For the same cost as removing GST, every family could be given $5 for each child to spend on fruit and veges every week. This would make a much more sizeable difference to the food bill of the poor, not to mention their health.

But ultimately there is only so far that the "health-by-stealth" approach can go. Subsidising good food is certainly the most politically acceptable place to start, but it won't do the job alone.

Energy-dense, micronutrient poor food will continue to get relatively cheaper, and so the subsidy bill will have to grow to keep pace. Meanwhile, the health bill for obesity and diabetes will continue to grow.

The only way to arrest this shift is through a whole raft of other measures, the most unpopular of which will be taxing foods on the basis of the energy they contain.

After all, the biggest threat to our health now is no longer smoking, it is that we eat too much. This will no doubt raise even more fervent opposition than my mother faced at my 5th birthday party.

However, such strong actions will be the only way to deal with our biological programming to eat ourselves to death.

Astronomical excise taxes are now normal for cigarettes, and have played a huge part in getting smoking rates down in this country. A similar approach with fatty and sugary food is only a matter of time.


Geoff Simmons is an economist at Gareth Morgan Investments
This article was first published in the NZ Herald.

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Labour would get more milage if they pushed for and helped organise community garden plots for those on low in the UK. But would it bring any votes...probably they won't do it.

15 % Consumption tax is simply wrong, a much lower figure is appropriate for lots of reasons. we started at 10% But they just can't leave it alone they have to raise it and raise it again.

Using tax to punish us is simply wrong. Tax should be to raise money to pay for the government. Once interest groups run it for the beifit of pet projects we end up in the mess we are in.

Consumption is taxed, working is taxed, yet uneraned wealth is not taxed at all. What a mess. Poor people do lots of things that rich people don't do. The arguement goes that they they deserve to be poor because of the actions they take yet this arguement is becoming harder and harder to sustain as the rich entrench societal benifits exclusively for themselves. Poor people are actually in bad health and make poor choices becasue they are poor, we all know this, but we all figure that keeping poor people poor will make us richer. Actually this is correct, poor people make really rich people richer, for the rest of us poor people makes us all poor. It will continue to be a mess while we pretend that we have benifited in any way from the rich becoming so rich, we actually haven't. We have more in common with the poor than with the rich. Try it for yourself, hang out with some rich people, I mean really rich people, the 'look' you get is no different than the 'look' they give the poor, to them we are all collectively a different species. The' look' by the way is a slightly queezy troubled look as if they are looking at something foreign that they do not understand but instinctively know that they do not like very much. The English rich hide this look to some extent with what they describe as 'manners', they of course mean 'good manners' , but actually they behave very poorly. 

I can't help but wonder about their 'look' in France 200 years ago as the blade was sliding down the rails.

Govn's can should set policy and find a way to get us to change course, gradually and hopefully effectively....."over-taxation" is a legit way to do that.  Taxing cigarettes are an example.

"Poor people are actually in bad health and make poor choices becasue they are poor, we all know this"  No I dont agree this is the answer 100%, this is another of those "common sense" moments, often used to try and stop any counter-argument.  Counter-argument is, poor ppl are often pretty stupid and un-educated or un-educatable and do stupid things, smoking? and drinking I believe is the "pleasures" of the working class....Back inthe 1970s ppl were complaining (in the USA) that food was expensive, Nixon asked his minions to find a way to take the cost of food off the political agenda, they did it with Frustose amongst other things....

So personally I would ban fructose for instance straight off....There maybe a way to look at the sugar/salt additions to produce and punitive tax on these, i would think it can be done but I suspect not cheaply and easily....


Taxing all pleasures.If someone smiles tax them..Jokes should have a mega tax.Then we'll all die of boredom..then finally weve reached a cost neutral state.

   Here's another thing to ponder..Taylor made cigarettes have rice in them as a filler,they turn it to mush spray 150 harmfull chemicals on it ..dry it out and shred it for the rolling machines...Burnt rice is highly what the hell! is the Department of health doing allowing this product to be sold? This is the thing which has changed A fairly inocuous habit into a major health problem.Then spawned an anti smoking industry..we really are mad.

Ok I would agree on the food ingredients thing. But I still have aproblem with blaming the poor for being poor.

The food nazis have to be the worst at reaching for the big gun of taxation.


No more bloody taxation. Taxation was only ever meant to finance the operations of government, and as we now know thanks to the Keynesian socialists that is way out of control to the extent of bankrupting many western economies: but even if you could justify that,  tax is not an appropriate device to affect peoples lifestyles.

For a start it's just too blunt. I kayak, walk and exercise regularly, so am fit and can handle the odd cream cake or takeaway. So don't tax the food I eat, I'm being responsible for myself. If you're going to do this, food nazis,you better make sure you focus it just on those you're trying to 'help': fat people. So get out your scales and go door to door with your eftpos machine (though I thnk you could understand what you'd be getting if you ever darkened my door).

And you better be clear where this ends, because it doesn't.

Sex can give STDs and even AIDS, so we better be taxing that.

Stupid people cause all sorts of mayhem, look at our tax law, so definitely a tax on stupid people.

...   I give up.




Geoff Simmons is an economist at Gareth Morgan Investments.

That says it all.

Don't shoot the messenger ... the key point is that NZ Labour are still under the delusion that they know best , and that they must direct us sheeples to accord with their superior thinking .

... nothing learnt from the ass-kicking that the electorate gave them in 2008 . Labour are at least consistent in their conceited arrogance .

If the messenger is an economist and/or spinning a message for their own gain, shooting is too good for them.

Bernard is the high priest of spinning a story out of bugger-all , wotcha wanna do , tar & feather the blighter ? ...

... but , as long as we give people free doctors visits , and free medical care .. the citizens will not take as much personal responsibility for their health ... make them pay for the services they use , and most folks would ditch their slovenly ways and gain some personal self-discipline .

The nanny-state is subsidising obesity , via the bail-out provision of free medical services .

... got the tar , just need to pluck a duck , and find Hickey .....

What was wrong with 'Hung, drawn and quartered'?

Shag ! .. He's ambushed us ... you're on yer on , mate , Gummy's gone-burger !!!


I think Geoff's ideas are worth debating.

As is this one from Gareth Morgan himself on The Big Kahuna.




The Big Kahuna is a useful idea and well worth debating. On the other hand Geoff's ideas on his subject are I believe so poorly reasoned (in terms of science, culture, economics and politics) that debating them is a waste of time and space.

For something coherent on the problem see Elley's comment below at - 17 Aug 11, 12:25pm.

Soon people won't be able to afford to eat, so that will solve some of the obesity issues. Trouble is the load on the health system then comes from malnutrition, if we have a health system still.

and if thats looking bad here, where I assume we will be able to produce enough food imagine how it will be in countries that cant......


haven't looked up any studies on this scarfie, but I'd be fairly confident that malnutrition health bills are less than 1% the cost of overeating health bills in this country... (heart bypass, heart transplant, angioplasty, most people over 50 on subsidised med for HBP or cholesterol or bloodthinning for reduced stroke risk, joint replacement, gastric bypass, etc. versus IV drip or nasogastric for a few days in hospital?)

Actually all the ailments you specify are the product of malnutrition, thereby completely preventable. Look the science up because it has been done.

Christov has got it below, malnutrition through overconsumption. That is the eating of food that just contain calories but are otherwise empty of nutrition.

Take your humble potato. The way we traditionally prepare it renders it a lump of starch whereas just under the skin lies all the nutrition, they actually contain good amounts on things like vitomin C. Not that I eat potatoes as my energy output at the moment doesn't require many carbs in my diet.

sorry scarfie, just to clarify; what would you eat more of to reduce heart disease? vitamin C to combat 5 pies a day? or if u match oranges with coke, will it reduce your diabetes rates? bucket of apples to match buckets of KFC to reduce cholesterol? just trying to understand your point, not saying you're wrong. would love to learn more :)  overeating without consequences because i can correct where i'm malnourished sounds great :)

It is a mixture of what you do eat and what you avoid.

For heart disease the research have been around longer than my Gen X years. Eskimos on their native diet do not get heart disease, which was where the omega 3's were discovered in the predominantly raw fish diet they ate/eat.

So raw fish is good:-P

There is quite a good rule I learnt, but it does involve thinking and calculating. Read this carefull, don't eat anything if more than 20% of the calories in that food come from fat. Of course saturated fats are bad news, and hydrogenated fats are deadly. Make your fat from good vegetable sources if possible. 9 calories per gramme of fat, or roughtly X4 for Kilojoules.

We are one of the only animals that don't make our own Vitamin C, take supplements to get enough.

Avoid grains if possible. Phytates in them cause malabsoption of minerals.

A bit of a taster for you:)

Scarfie......any stroll around the supermarkets regardless of  which ,reflect an insidious promotional campaign on load up affordability......i.e. loading the trolley by volume rather than substance......

While some may argue this spreads the lower earners dollar ,in fact is actually a case of margins obtained on trolley filling products...and so it's the opposite that occurs in terms of obesity.

The poor nutrion accompanied with high consumption only further serves to exacerbate the strain on the public health system.

I am not in any way suggesting w "Nanny" our way out of the problem......but it is something  that can be addressed  as incidiously  as it has been promoted.

The shopper needs to understand firstly ...they are being targeted for their stupidity and shortsightedness rather than their loyal custom and discerning taste.

Most hip to the shoulder ailes should carry a small repetitive sign...Hello Stupid Buy Me I'm Cheap.

So are you saing that the average person is pretty stupid?

You are making a lot of sense today:)

I actually fight this battle on a local level, with fat kids that didn't used to be prior to my separation.

I simply don't have pre-prepared foods in the house. No softdrinks, no chips, no biscuits or other sugar laden food. 

My dad was telling me a story just last week of a school camp he organised for his class on one occasion. The camp facilitators said it was the best ever group of kids they have had through their camp. The reason? My dad went up the week before and asked the chef if he would take any crap food out of the menu, so they all ate fresh fruit and veges for the week. The chef absolutely loved my dad for it, as he got to exercise his skills for a change.

We recognised very early on that my daughter would express bad bahaviour if given anything with red food colouring in.

As you see below Scarfie...I include myself..initially in the "stupid"...Convenience often captures it's audience and relieves them of their responsibility to think for themselves.


Hey I might write that down..!...oh I just did ...duh.

The average man is neither stupid nor smart , he's just average , stupid !

Frankly this is nuts.  Best way in fact probably the only way is to educate....tell ppl about fractose and its dangers and damage for instance....



 "the only way is to educate"....oh what a great idea you gonna do that when the average reading age of adults in NZ is 12 years....when some garbage on the gogglebox is deemed more important than your "ed you kation"....I wish you luck but my money is on idiocy, stupidity and laziness winning hands down.

While you make a good point Wolly it need not be as fatalistic as you paint it.....while the education as to average, they are nontheless targetable and accessable to inform dependant on format by which that message is being sent.

If and this is a big IF ... 8 to 16 yr old role model  for example "Lady Ga Ga" were to endorse the virtues of healthy nutrition as opposed to say the Swindell sisters the impact would be far more profound.

Now whether or not  that style of campaign is your cup of is the effectiveness of it that is paramount.

 Fight fire with fire.....they may be stupid as you say ...but they are media savy in terms of accessability. 

  "dependant on format ".....I would have said dependent on the cost!

I think you should try this educating lark would be in for a shock.


How about taking aware free medical care for lifestyle diseases. Why should we all pay for diabetes treatment when it is self inflicted?

Dangerous territory there though.

I actually think we will see a deterioration of our healthcare services pending. We simply won't be able to afford it.

I know it isn't usually applied to food, but has there ever been a better case of 'caveat emptor'.

I don't agree Wolly......!

I have done the shopping and cooked the family meals for the last twelve years..when I started I was bloody hopeless...a trolley filla...oooh that looks like a good idea.! lots o snacks n quick processed meats...n stuff you know.

She would look at me with a look I can't really define ..but kind of like watching a greenhorn trying to rope a weight was ballooning.

Time passed ..not long either..I got cooking improved shopping became a mirror opposite to previous and I learned quickly with a little forethought we could dine every night of the week  in dieting....breakfasts...lunches....the shopping buget (at that time) actually went weight decreased considerabely and has remained so.......

Steven is right about education ......I believe I'm right about reformatting the message.

I believe your right about infating costs becoming prohibitive...but lets face it... they ,(me included) were still buying stoopid when things were more affordable.

 "and I learned quickly"...good for you BigC...just don't expect the same capacity for learning to be in evidence across the sector of the population at risk of blah blah blah.....

The cost of an education programme run across the media platforms until it had any real impact on the target Kiwis...would run into the hundreds of millions every bloody year...and you can bet on the 'industry' milking it to the paying people for every rat tail they hand in...and discovering rat breeding going on flat stick.

It's about as brilliant an idea as paying people to lose weight~!

No Wally it need not cost a lot at all.......there are forms of advertising /marketing taking place around us on a very subliminal level all the time....reinforcing...behaviour...values..ideals.

They are placed and left to become self generating........occassionally tweaked to "access" shifting social patterns/behaviour.

I don't mean to get your back up...but I am at pains to point out ..good teaching by measure of it's effectivness is not in regurgitation of the subject but the manner or inspired way in which it is delivered.

Just as all Doctors are not necessarily good says so on the wall and for some that's good enough.

Sometimes /often sadly the best and most effective target teaching is used for the... "dark side "if you like ........just as certain styles of music target teens during periods of extreme angst.....................just as sex sells Wolly......the difficulty if there is one is in merging what are currently seen as conflicting images by youth.....untill  a new cool can evolve as if they discovered it.

I don't want Govt involvement because they,as a collective, have their bureaucratic heads so far up their own damn ass...they are not intouch with daylight.

Nope ........we....can do it.......if we...get involved.

I don't believe the advertorial stuff, govt departments are paying serious money for ( the drink drive stuff we see on tv) have much of an effect, its too late to influence the target audience  BUT, if you start  early at school then there is a chance of making a positive difference. The Jesuits had this sorted out  half a millenium ago. Bring back compulsory home economics - cooking this is (Jamie Oliver for kids) - for all children from an early age, social studies or multicultural studies could be dumped to make classroom time.

Fructose not such an issue in NZ as in America.

Plain old high sugar and high fat the issue.



BH, respectfully I would suggest you look at the products you buy with a view to whats changing in the recipies. Yoghurt, tomato sauce are just two Ive noticed where fructose is creeping in (so ive switched brands).....So let it start now and before we know it it will be as bad as the USA, dont forget its the cheapest sweetner/bulker there is its also terrible for livers......and you note we have enough of a health issue today If allowed manufacturers will make it worse, as far as I am concerned they are poisioning us in the name of profit.....


Bernard,  sucrose is 50% fructose; so the biochemical concerns with high fructose corn syrup are the similar for sugar, in the end. Google  Prof Robert Lustig or John Yudkin for the details. For an  overview, here is a link to an opinion piece from the NYT recently -

Some very strong views on this subject here :)

I'd have to say if the plan of any of these policies is improving population health, then a tax on high sugar/fat food would definitely be much more effective than the alternative of removing GST off fruit/vege. Apart from admin costs, if removing GST is enough to change people's buying habits from coke to broccoli, then coke will just reduce their prices (analogy)...

If the above people are actually worried about poor people being unable to eat, what about say a 300% tax on fizzy drinks, with the full return going to households living below the poverty line p.a.? even if its $5 more a week, surely most people would buy less coke if it was $8 per 2L? inevitably it would go toward something else more healthy...

I think this is a complex problem with no easy solution, cheap and effective solution.

Some peer reviewed reasearch suggest poor ppl buy more the Q is if we remove GST will that free up money to spend on other un-healthy things?    Ive seen nothing to suggest that will not happen.

I can see you can tax sugar and fructose in particualr quite easily, however I assume the USA will have something to say on the latter.

"more healthy" I dont see why.....If you tax 300% of fizzy drinks and then give it back I dont see the NET change....its also more little tax, like WFF, not very accurate and open to abuse.

Also, how do you tax bags of sugar? ie its not the sugar itself but the quantity in the product.

Also of course part of the reason they use so much sugar is they have used more salt to make you thirsty and buy more sh*te.....quite well documented that this is what is going on.




High taxes work to reduce consumption of things. Just look at tobacco and spirits.

It works.



I think I argue that in other replies BH, except there are some examples where it could be counter productive....Tobacco and spirits may not be the best example, for instance reduce ppl bills of fruit and veg may not see them buy more, that freed up money may now be spent on more "garbage".....


As the likely sole resident of  South Aucklander here, a fat tax, like tabacco tax, is the only way to go. Everyday I see kids of about six to eight years old who would weigh more than me.

And while we're at it, an alcohol tax would save the criminal system and ACC a fair whack too.

In my opinion a "fart tax" on human flatulence would be harder to avoid, less complicated and more efficient. A comprehensive fart tax is likely to be easier to implement, comply with and administer than a "fat tax".

That would increase tax revenues in an area that is currently untaxed.

Yes, but the individual rate be based on quantity or quality? And would the Beehive be exempt?

Health campaigns need to be targetted - hence there is no point getting women over 40 to have the cervical cancer vaccine. The figure regarding obesity in NZ approaching US levels is one we hear more and more often - however I would like to see the figures for the incidence of obesity in Pakeha versus Maori/Pacific islanders - I think they would show this particular health issue is significantly skewed to one population (diabetes is a good marker for obesity - rates are far higher in Maori: . Penal taxation across the board then becomes a very blunt instrument.

Forget increasing tax or decreasing tax. Just stop the public funding of obesity/food related health problems. Let those who want to kill themselves by eating do it.

There is nothing stopping a family on a low income eating healthily - potatoes, rice, mince, apples, bananas... healthy, staple foods are still cheap. We do it all the time and we aren't on a low income.

Interested.....while I agree with the second part of your statement...."nothing stopping" is not completely  covering ..see my posts above to save   me banging on.

There on the part of the food outlets to get ...convenience buy  more margin generating means of placement..signage...and volume.

So in fact there is a pro-active role that is inhibiting good decision making ..if nothing else.

You would be surprised at the cross section of  "stupid" it appeals to...from the poorly educated to the time poor well educated it is effective and widely used.

Good points Christov. 

Unfortunately this problem of ignorance, naivete or lack of time applies to all sorts of things. But there comes a point when we should stop accepting it as an excuse. Most people are like water and will always take the easiest path through life unless there are consequences that alter their behaviour.

A good opinion piece Geoff. Labours plan to remove gst on fruit and vegetables assumes the savings will be passed on by the retailer, in my opinion this is not likely to happen to any significant degree resulting in a major loss of gst revenue for no benefit apart from a taxpayer subsidy applied to the retailers profit margin, and partly Australian destined at that.

The seasonal fluctuations in fruit and vegetable pricing are quite high anyway  - a 13% price change in is unlikely to be a sufficient incentive to push consumer behavior in the right direction. Here  a local roadside fruit retailer is selling apples for 80c a kg, I don't accept the argument that dropping the price to 70c a kg will alter local apple consumption significantly. If 80c/kg is too expensive for some, then so is 70c/kg. 

Your argument about the regressive nature of the proposed gst removal is a bigger issue and has been overlooked by Labour. Why should I save $4 per week  avoiding the gst so that someone else on a lower income saves $1 per week, it doesn't make sense (assuming for the argument the savings are passed on). As you suggest a card system (food stamp equivalent) to target tthose who will benefit the most is the way to go. At least its worth a pilot study. Results from a well organised pilot with clearly defined aims and properly measured outcomes might reduce some of the hopeless political posturing around this matter and reduce some of the emotions that many have on this.

More work on ways of taxing the sugar and some of the fat content in our food is needed. Your analogy of taxation on cigarette consumption is apt and the taxation on alcohol is the other model relevant here. There is a clear inverse relationship with high excise taxes and consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. But blackmarket economics become more of a problem at higher rates of taxation. Labours proposal with removing gst on fruit and vegetables is analogous to removing the gst on chewing gum in the hope that cigarette consumption will go down.

Some might see the discussion around food energy taxation as unnesseary state intervention, and philosphically resent the implied intrusion into peoples lives, but the the facts are there in the public domain; obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitis are major health concerns worldwide, and we will all pay for the consequences either personally or via our taxes.  Our local hospital spent major dollars recently on bariatric equipment; beds, chairs, hoists etc for mobidly obese patients, many of whom are over 150kg. This is all paid for by us the taxpayers.

Check out "Sugar the bitter truth"  at for a background to some of the medical issues at:

If Labour had bothered to get off their arse during the 9 wasted years of idiocy under Clark, they could have put the following into operation in NZ.....

They chose not to.

That about sums up the NZ Labour Party circa 2011.

If National have any electoral brains at all...they will move to have allotments

Even better, digest this:

It is also about time Bernard shook off his defence of the status quo, and produced an article covering these ideas.

Thanks Andrew, the link had changed - now corrected.



I like Charles Hugh Smith's plague on both your houses thinking.

But I have yet to see specific ideas to replace the artifice with, apart from some mumblings about volunteer groups.

Maybe I need to dig deeper.

Having a go where I can to punt on a few solutions here and there.



Bernard, I agree you should dig deeper and hope you do. I think that you will both learn and find additional material. That should see us noticing a positive change in interestdotco. GBH perhaps won't appreciate the change, but I certainly will.

I would not underestimate the quality and reach of Charles Hugh Smith's writing, but he has a lot of material to choose from. I would suggest starting with the following three days worth of his ideas from the end of July. If you only have time to read one, please choose the last.



 Wally, Allotments - great, but in a country like NZ we could do much better - community farms maybe.  Hours worked directly related to produce taken? Someone out there must have a better system... 

Nope..that stinks of communism to me KWJ...allotments mean do the work or go without.

Allotments could happen but not with Labour's 'help' would need to be a community thing.

Bit of a stretch  Wally.... from community to communism... so many shades in between.

Allotments it is then.... 

There's a community garden in our area.  Hours worked in exchange for vege box.  Great!  Unfortunately some people with "no stake in their society" got in there and stole the veges and eggs.  Brought their dogs in and killed the chickens leaving their carcasses scattered round the garden.

Sorry to hear that LAJ - That Supermarket Gang is a tough nut to crack :)  Hope you don't give up.

Local dogs I would say LAJ..those with four legs and those with two.

Doesn't bode well for those of us growing our own veges so we don't starve when "peak oil " and global food shortages hit.  Unless we have armed guards on our plots it will all be a waste of time as looters dig up pea sized potatoes in November (or maybe they are so stupid they won't recognise a potato plant when they see it).

Hey Wolly...wooly....Labour have just come out against the anti-camping bill...your salvation is at hand if you can do the unthinkable.

I find that hard to believe BigC.... but you know once in a while.. even they can come out with the right policy.


believe it Wolly Baby...! turn on your 1.30 news and you'll be dancing like a gypsy on steroids...!


 "People who poo in New Zealand's pristine places can now be pinged with a fine after a bill passed by Parliament today." herald


To get that little number'll need to consider your vote...!....Free Philly.

  "specifically exempted "temporary and short-term parking", day-trip excursions, and resting or sleeping in a car." harrrrrrrrrrrrrrhahahahaaa

That's a loophole to be proud of...."ve are not camping as you claim officer but ve are just having ze rest bugger orf"

"The bill would allow councils to create areas where freedom camping is banned - though it has been watered down to prevent blanket bans across entire local territories.

It would set up a fee of $200 - adjustable by regulation - for freedom campers who camp where they are not allowed to, or do not properly dispose of waste, such as leaving faecal matter in a rubbish bin.

Those who litter in a way likely to cause significant damage or significant concern to a local community could face a $10,000 fine.

The definition of freedom camping has also been tightened to within 200m - originally 1km - of a road, road end or the low-water line of the sea or harbour." herald

No worries BigC...mines self contained anyways...question is who gets to pay for the army of council poo coppers...the dreaded CPC!..( also known as brown shirts)...another burden on the ratepayer ...ho hum...

Anyone seen a toilet near here?



Did nobody here see the recent documentary "FOOD.INC" ??

The extent to which the fast food industry has gone to, to "substitute" protein with "transfats" as an extender so as to increase margins is a jaw-dropper.

The hamburgers you get today are not the same as you used to get at the white-lady in shortland street, where you could see all the work done-in-the-window. Now you dont.

yes iconolast...a good watch...but inconvenient for the convenience junkie.

What we need is more taxation, more legislation, a more complex tax code and no capital gains tax on property.

I suppose the removal of any form of currently imposed taxation is always going to be a problem for the revenuers........less of a problem if any at all for the benificaries of that tax cut.

Question...would you like to pay less tax..?

Answer(I presume).......yes.

Countered by....well you can't !


Too Hard..!


Because..(.followed with ramble that includes a lot of ...if's...difficulties...unforseen......industrial complications....therefore' wit....)


You can't..!




To me it's a matter of culture and attitude towards food, not prices, so I doubt removing GST off fruit & veg would help even assuming that the supermarkets would pass on the cost savings on to the customer (which I also seriously doubt). Have a look at Countries like France and Italy have among the lowest obesity rates, yet the French and Italians are well known for enjoying their food (and wine!).

The big difference compared with the UK and NZ (where I have lived and worked but I assume the US & Australia are the same) is that over there you don't just grab food on the way and eat anything at any hour of the day. There are meal times, people are not constantly snacking and (in France at least) schools have canteens where kids are served hot balanced meals (starter, main, dessert which would typically be raw veggies, healthy main and yoghurt/piece of fruit). It is standard for French companies that don't have their own canteen to give "restaurant tickets" as part of an employee's pay package which can be used pretty much anywhere, including mall cafeterias which serve healthy, hot meals similar to school canteens without the waiting time of a real restaurant.

Compare that with here or the UK where a lot of people snack on chips and pies every hour of the day in the office and have a sandwich + chocolate bar for lunch (usually while sitting at their desk and surfing the internet), and where the kids have lunchboxes filled with chips, sweets etc (which is not surprising because it's pretty hard to prepare a proper lunch that will be eaten cold and usually the day after it's been made). Another big difference is that people here use takeaway as a standard way to get a meal - I didn't even know what a takeaway was before moving to the UK and I was 23 when I did. In countries like France and Italy, people wouldn't even think about not cooking their own food from scratch for every meal, save a few times a year when going to a (proper) restaurant. The same goes for the attitude towards alcohol - the culture here/in the UK is about binge drinking almost regardless of age. In France/Italy, it's about enjoying a small amount of good wine with a meal. Of course young people can be stupid but it's usually not a phase that lasts for very long and getting drunk isn't a national hobby.

And then people talk about the "French paradox": I can't see any paradox. To me the only solution to the obesity problem is a complete change of culture/food mentality...and sadly I can't see that happening anytime soon. [Rant over!].

Really good rant Elley.....but don't be sad because will will gather momentum....if we do what we do...keep discussing it  at dinner with freinds....people you know about the place........Over a number of years I know for a fact I've got a number of freinds now cooking regularly for their wives.....and many things changed in their outlook on what "was good" but not anymore......and they will tell someone or cook for them and impart in some anything slow at first.....but it is coming along.

Sometimes ..when you wanna sell it to got to cook it for em....n that's ok by me.


Elley1, Geoff Simmons 0.

Well done.

Lovely story Elley. One or two inconvenient facts.

Largest per capita consumption of MacDonalds in Europe? France.

Highest density of takeaway kebab shops? Probably France.

No snacking in the office where I worked, but assez de smoking. Things were changing though.

UK has school dinners too. If the dessert was yoghurt or fruit, it'd get used as a weapon in a riot.

In my, admittedly rather limited, experience of working in France, most people's main meal was lunch in the cafeteria, for which we received a generous 90mins, but food at home was almost all ready-to-eat; charcuterie, fromage, patisserie etc. Stuff all home cooking really, though all the families could cook up a storm when they wanted, usually weekends. I put this down to France's long tradition of working wives, plus a serious interest in maintaining 'forme'.

But yes, most families ate as a family, extended family often at the weekends, and they ate slowly, yacking away about everything under the sun. None of your anglo gobble and go there.

It's funny, but 30 years ago the Kiwi lifestyle seemed so much more healthy than Europe's, but we seem to have lost our way.

Good points....certianly the fast and crap food culture is questionable....


Taking off the GST will not change the price of most vegetables except perhaps the cheapest ones where there is an oversupply. The supermarkets/suppliers will charge what the consumer is prepared to pay to get rid of the volumes they have to sell eg look at the price of tomatoes at the moment. Because the price changes from day to day on seasonal items no one knows what the true price is so it is hard to compare prices between retailers on veges. The savings to poor people would be way less than the loss of tax income as prices creep back up to their original levels. Removing GST will only mean the supermarkets will make more profit.

Geoff is right on the economics of why taking GST off fruit and veges is a stupid idea.

However, his statement that veges are the best source of most vitamins and minerals is wrong.

The best source for most of these vital micronutrients is meat, not only because it is more nutrient dense but because the nutrients are generally more easily absorbed than if they come from vegetables.

Many vitamins are also fat-soluble, so if you want to get the most of your celery and carrot sticks you'd better have them with butter!

If we're going to tax "bad" food the best way to do it would be to tax fructose and polyunsaturated fat, two of the main culprits in the obesity epidemic.

This would make the deadly seed oils many people use prohibitively expensive, forcing people to switch to healthy alternatives like butter, coconut oil, beef tallow or even palm oil.


Great troll


You want to cite some sources there as some of your claims are quite the opposite of what I have read.

Simple really,  tax ' fat people' ( and smokers ).  Drive past Middlemore or Auckland DHB's and you will see for yourself, its not nice.  

We as a society have to make it unacceptable to be obese.  There is no excuse except excuses!

Comments like that make me think that you've been on the " sauce " , HP.

... now get down and gimmee 20 press-ups .... C'mon lard ass , hup 1 ,...  down ,... hup 2 , down ......

I wish.  You don't need to visit Auckland Zoo, just visit the entrances of Auckland Hospital and Middlemore - its free too.

Lounging around airports can be eye-poppingly amazing too , the rich tapestry of humanity , waddling  - or being golf-carted - to their gates . ... Like  international hippopotamuses ...

I kinda like HP's idea. Maybe each year people could be weighed, BMI calculated and their tax code or benefit adjusted to incentivise them toward BMI norms. BMI norms could be adjusted each year by, you guessed it Roger:


love it Les.... but your Friday 4oclock beer sesh may come in for some rainchecking..!

One of the basic principles in "most" western societies is to heavily tax tobacco and alcohol products (excise duties plus GST) on the basis their use ultimately imposes enormous health costs on society. The same reasoning should be applied to all processed food products that include any "transfats" and or "sugars" ingredients in any form. Anyone for a $20 Maccas hamburger? $15 coke?

Problem is its not just these foods or food places....these is an increasing amount of crap being put in our processed food because its cheap.....


   Well said Steven...The basics are being forever ignored..Like how many essential elements are in that veggie...not a lot these days  how your daily intake of water soluble vitamins..fraid its the same, plenty of cheap fat and carbs?? Oh why are we all getting fat?  These basics that are being ignored are going to cost big time as the commercialisation of food production in a country where the rain acts to leech these essentials out of the soil becomes paramount..Children are being born with Arthritis these days.Premature greyness..depression..arthritis..Parkinsons, etc . If the body dosn't get what it needs it will canibalise itself.Funny thing its a bit like borrowing without the ability to pay it back, eveything has consequences.Cause and effect.

I think there is a growing body of evidence/experience that suggests our modern ways of life are killing us....from poor diet, stress, contamination and polution.....

I find it hard to believe that when you immerse a body in all of the above there is no negative consquence over decades, very hard.....

Yet it seems there is little attention being paid to it by successive Govns....we banned cigarette advertising, personally I'd ban fast food outlet advertising.....We can also ban some products, fructose for instance has nothing good about it except its a cheap filler, we can also improve the legislation on food labeling.....give ppl the information and choice....


Agreed. Ban advertising, and tax the hell out of the crap food. Trying to offer a different tax on good food will be costly, employ another bunch of civil servants in plush offices, and the saving will likely never reach the intended punter.

How we change the habits of people that have gotten used to buying crap pre prepared food, so they don’t have to do anything but plug their pie hole with no though of their health is a completely different story. The thinking of "cos the gummit will pick up the tab" need changing.

Do we need to start talking about restricting health care to the people that are grossly obese and/or refuse to give up smoking because not only are they killing them selves, they are pushing the health system to breaking point. Both factors make it extremely difficult to perform medical operations, and greatly increase the risk of complications including death for the doctors - hows that for a morale boster every day at work?