I have a confession to make: I have become enthralled with TLC’s show Extreme Couponing. The stingy saver in me is fascinated by how these (mostly) women save SO MUCH MONEY on so much food/lifestyle products. The show is over for this season (WOE), but one thought lingers with me.
After watching episode after episode, something began to niggle in the back of my mind. As the camera flashed over stockpiles and items spilling into carts, I noticed a pattern: by only purchasing food with coupons that make the food incredibly cheap or free, these shoppers are, by and large, feeding their families — and children! — ABSOLUTE CRAP.
Some of the products I saw families buy in bulk to feed their families:
- frozen pizza (and not the “good” kind)
- Mentos candies
- Butterfinger bars (in bulk?!?!)
- Mountain Dew (and all manner of soft drinks)
- ramen noodles (and all possible permutations on this/brands)
- potato chips/Chex Mix (etc.)
- juice boxes
- high fat crackers (such as Cheez-Its)
- instant Mac & Cheese (ie: Kraft)
- cake mix
- high sugar cereals (all varieties)
- instant rice (and other high sodium “instant” items)
- ice cream
- salad dressing
- Pilsbury frozen crescent rolls (and similar)
And you know what I saw only TWO families buy all season? Fresh produce.
I am no saint — I eat some of the above, or grew up eating it. But I did not and do not subsist of an entire diet of these highly processed, heavily marketed “foods.” Watching these families buy 200 packages of ramen, it made me sick to my stomach knowing they were raising their KIDS on this “food.” Most of these products aren’t ones that any family *needs*. But if you have a coupon and it is cheap or “free,” they’ll buy it.
The problem is, food manufacturers tend to provide coupons for the worst of their foods — the brands they want to push onto American families, and especially to their children — high sugar drinks, snacks and the like. These foods have little to no natural ingredients, are high in sugar, sodium and “flavor enhancers.” The expense of buying in bulk and eating cheap may be these families’ health.
I am all about the non-food items these extreme couponers get – I am jealous of their deodorant & shave gel stockpiles. But you couldn’t PAY me to eat all that processed junk… but is essentially what food companies are doing via their coupon deals. Paying American families to buy their crap, and perpetuate their brands as essential.
What do you think? Did you watch? Do you extreme coupon?
Here is one of the moms who actually bought produce. There were no coupons in the paper, so she emailed the company and asked for a deal on bananas.
You can watch more videos here.