Over-priced and poor quality produce for some of the most poverty stricken people in the country should have been front and centre of the Vegemite debate.
By
Catherine Liddle

19 Aug 2015 - 11:02 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2015 - 2:08 PM

The call for a potential ban on Vegemite made headlines around the world. Jokes about happy little vegemites are still abound, but I for one am not laughing and I never did.

To me, this story wasn't funny, quite frankly it stank. It stank of wrongness. Basic facts were wrong, the lack of evidence was wrong, the majority of media reports about the scourge of Vegemite were wrong. Worst of all, the stench of this giant pile of black steaming Vegemite was so strong it masked the questions and stories that people should have been asking and following, and this was was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Not the least of the stories that got buried under the massive Vegemite dump was the simple cost of this pantry staple on remote communities.

Not the least of the stories that got buried under the massive Vegemite dump was the simple cost of this pantry staple on remote communities.

Over-priced and poor quality produce for some of the most poverty stricken people in the country should have been front and centre of this debate.

On many communities it would probably have been unfeasible to waste a jar of this popular condiment due to the cost. I’ve seen tiny jars sit on supermarket shelves for $10. I’ve heard others say that they’ve seen jars sell for as much as $16.

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If you find this news shocking, the chances are you're not Indigenous, I say this because for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and regional areas costs like this are so normalised it’s not even a surprise. 

There have been numerous studies produced that show the impact of a poor diet on health and life outcomes and equally numerous studies produced to show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do not enjoy the same quality of diet of their non Indigenous counterparts.

Perhaps more importantly is the evidence that shows we are more prone to dietary related illnesses like diabetes and renal disease. Low Glycemic Index vegetables like sweet potatoes and pumpkins are recommended to combat these lifestyle illnesses, so does it surprise you that a cousin of mine recently spoke of a pumpkin in a community south west of Alice Springs selling for $40? It doesn’t surprise me.

But it does make me question how we close the gap on health and life outcomes when we can’t even ensure food is affordable.

But it does make me question how we close the gap on health and life outcomes when we can’t even ensure food is affordable.

There are some incredible fresh food and produce programs out there. In the Pit Lands communities, they have gone so far as to buy their own transport trucks to overcome the produce disparity.

But not everyone is so lucky. Check out the photos taken on Wednesday by chef Duncan Welgemoed visiting Arnhem Land. Having lived out bush for a lot my life I would wager that the meat is not off, but rather thawed out after being frozen, but how do you explain the other expiry dates?

NITV News contacted the supermarket in question and a spokesman said they throw out product beyond its use by date but continue to offer product which is beyond its best before date as allowed by law. Full story here.