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There is a new reality show on TLC called “Extreme Couponing” that follows a few self-professed super moms and dads who spend only a few dollars a month on groceries after hours of clipping coupons and strategically planning a visit to the grocery store. The parents took great pride in leaving the grocery store with hundreds of dollars worth of groceries having spent only a few dollars. While I admire their tenacity and ability to plan and organize such a trip, I couldn’t help but notice their entire carts and subsequently their homes were filled with processed junk food and in one case 1000 bottles of body wash. Every nook and cranny of their homes had been turned into a grocery store shelf filled with whatever was on sell or had a double coupon that week. One mother had 75 boxes of “junk” cereal and bottle after bottle of a popular sugary sports drink made with artificial colors. While I’m the first to admit that we eat some of those items occasionally, not one parent had any fresh fruit or vegetables in their cart. Their goal was saving money with what seemed like no focus on healthy eating, and their homes looked like that of a well organized hoarder. Is extreme couponing about saving money or has it become an obsession?

While I recognize that in this economy people are struggling to make ends meet, and saving money has become even more critical to so many families, I’m betting all the families featured on this show have cell phones and paid TV. In fact, they most certainly have computers and internet connections so they can print extra coupons to combine with coupons from their local newspaper. What’s my point? Food has become so low on the priority list for many families that non-necessities like cell phones, TV service, and internet access eat up way more of our budget than quality, healthy food does. Why not spend the 10 to 30 hours a week these parents spend on couponing on growing a garden instead? Families could still fill their homes with food for a fraction of the cost but it would be fresh produce rather than processed junk food. I think for many of these people accomplishing the goal of free groceries has become an obsession that trumps healthy food choices. After all, I’ve never seen a coupon from a local farmer for fresh tomatoes, apples, or some other fresh produce.

What do you think of extreme couponing and what does it say about America’s relationship with food? Babyminding wants to know!

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