The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.10.07


Tax-free diet food

As much as I like the beginning of a new year its arrival brings with it the notion of weight loss and taxes. If you are like me, you dread the thought of both.

While losing some extra width around the waist is an appropriate idea, losing some width of the wallet is not. I spent two glorious weeks over the holidays in Florida where food is plentiful and state tax is non-existent. The result is evident as I sport more than a Christmas tan.

Of course, I have returned to Quebec just in time to be hit with the need to trim the fat in a number of areas. In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush offers incentive for its residents. I suspect that tax incentives for physical activity programs for an obese society are not included yet.

Here at home, however, our government is at the very least putting its (your) money where its mouth is so to speak with a new effort to curb exploding obesity in the population.

In its first budget in May 2006, the federal Conservative government acted on its campaign pledge to provide one per cent of health spending for sport and physical activity. The resulting Children's Fitness Tax Credit will cover eligible fees of up to $500 a year for parents with children under 16 participating in eligible physical activity programs, effective January 1.

I have an idea that will help curb obesity rates even further. What if our government were to introduce tax incentives that recognize consumption of healthy foods? I suggest that we could benefit from a program that would allow us to claim back taxes on restaurant meals and grocery purchases identified as healthy.

Legislators are already thinking about levying additional tax on fast food meals so why not reward us for eating the right things? Retailers and restaurants could register food items with Health Canada that would be included on an approved list according the Canada food guide and we would submit claims for tax refund at year-end.

While this novel idea has as much chance at coming to fruition as an orange has a chance of growing in our increasingly warming northern climate, I will copy this column to our prime minister just on the off chance he may consider it.

In the meantime, while we wait on new tax incentives you can trim a few inches if you eat nothing but this weight loss soup.

7-Day Cabbage Soup

- 6 large green onions
- 2 green peppers
- 1 large can of tomatoes (diced or whole)
- 3 carrots
- 1 container (10 oz. or so) fresh mushrooms
- 1 bunch celery
- 1/2 head cabbage
- 1 package onion soup mix
- 1 or 2 cups water
- 1 large can of vegetable juice such as V8 or tomato

Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, etc.
Eat all the soup you want, whenever you want for the next seven days.