MAUREEN ELLIS - is angry at fruit prices

HOW many apples would you have to eat to generate the 360 calories in a sausage roll?

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Six, according to my calculations.

Now ask any parent who is on a tight budget what is cheaper to buy, and more likely to be eaten, and there is little comparison needed.

Every time I hear yet another politician trumpeting on about childhood obesity, and parents not feeding their children their five a day, it makes my blood boil.

I guess they have not noticed – maybe people who shop at Waitrose and M&S do not need price comparison websites – that buying fresh fruit and veg costs a small fortune these days.

I watched Channel 4's Dispatches investigation into supermarket fruit and veg with some interest, thinking this will be the programme to right the wrongs.

I hate that the Egyptian raspberries I bought for £2 this week did more for my carbon footprint than my taste buds.

It kills me that my local supermarket manages to be big enough to house a Post Office and a cafe but can't sell tomatoes singly.

I don't want six in a shiny pack resting their peachy posteriors on shaped cardboard. I want two to mash up in salsa.

But the programme seemed to miss the point by focusing on the differences charged by different stores (they are all too expensive!) and the confusing price variations between items sold by weight and in a multi-pack.

The programme, Secrets Of Your Supermarket Shop, did not look at the hardy, tasteless varieties flown in from all over the globe that will probably survive a nuclear holocaust along with the cockroaches.

It did not look at the indigenous farmers and market gardeners who have been put out of business despite offering fresher, cheaper, tastier options.

And it did not really take into account discounted chains such as Lidl and Aldi that, for me, have the closest thing to affordable fresh produce I have ever bought.

I want the Government to introduce a hefty tax on imported fresh produce – and all retailers to be encouraged to give homegrown produce a prominent position at the front of stores.

Let's have 'ugly' fruit and veg that do not pass inspections, or produce nearing their sell-by dates, celebrated with a gondola of their own.

Surely it is not too much to ask to be able to make a pot of soup and a fruit crumble that does not cost more than buying already-made off the shelf.

It's sad that fresh fruit and veg sales have plummeted 18% among lower-income groups.

If the Government is serious about tackling health issues, it could introduce a coupon scheme of free fruit and veg 'rations' that can be claimed by children in addition to packs of free seeds.

The days of 'Dig For Victory' may have gone, but perhaps there is much to learn from prizing a banana or orange as highly as a piece of chocolate.

Food and drink

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