May 11, 2011

Eat Healthier, Pay Less Tax

Tax-free Corn Bread fresh out of the oven

Like that other inevitable reality, death, taxes are something that we must come to terms with. I am alright with paying taxes - it is the price I pay to live in a healthy, cooperative society. However, I do not enjoy paying taxes on food. Recently I have been trying to find ways to avoid food taxes, and eat healthier at the same time.

Basic foods in many places, including British Columbia, are tax exempt. Basic food refers to things like milk, fruit, vegetables, and flour. Considering food is a basic necessity, it should be free of taxes. Therefore, most foods escape our newly implemented Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which is currently 12%. But not all foods escape being taxed. Generally, entertainment eating, or snack food, is taxed.

Snack foods such as chocolate bars, gum, candy, and potato chips are some examples of foods (and I use that term loosely) that will have 12% extra added to their cost at the checkout. Considering the health problems associated with excessive snack consumption, they should be taxed. We can agree that these are not essential parts of a healthy diet. But on a couple of items, me and the tax man don't see eye to eye.

Are plain tortilla chips a snack, or food? I have never sat down and munched on a bag of plain tortilla chips, nor have I seen anyone else doing so. However, I don't know anyone that doesn't like a big plate of nachos, which, when served with refried beans, I consider a meal. But tortilla chips are a taxed item.

Another curiosity is with nuts. Nuts are very expensive, and I do not want to pay any more for them than I have to. That is why I was happy to discover that while salted nuts are taxed, unsalted nuts are not. Now we always buy unsalted, and have gotten used to this healthy food in its natural state.

To get around the taxed, deep fried tortilla chips, we replaced them with a non-taxed, healthier alternative - corn meal. With this less processed, less expensive alternative I bake corn bread (or Johnny Cake), which I can serve with all the ingredients I would otherwise have put on tortilla chips. It is great with home made refried beans, burning hot baked red pepper salsa, and guacamole.

Some taxes are not inevitable, and avoiding them may even help defer death for a while. Leave the full-tax fun foods on the shelf, and reach for no-tax, healthy, real food.

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