Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The cost of free from living

Scrolling through facebook today, this popped up on my news feed.

It got me thinking. I've often ranted about the price of free from stuff in supermarkets but I've never actually sat down and worked out how much more it costs.

I don't tend to buy a lot of free from stuff for Monkey. The cost puts me off, I make most things from scratch and the combination of all Monkey's allergies (dairy, soya, egg, wheat, apple and pear) mean a lot of the free from foods aren't suitable anyway.

There are some free from foods that I buy regularly though. I decided to do a price comparison of these against non free from foods. I've gone for the brands I would normally buy rather than the cheapest brands.

Pre-allergy shopping list
Warburtons medium loaf - 95p
Tesco wholewheat fusilli 500g - 75p
Tesco cumberland sausages - £1.70
Tesco fish fingers - £1.00
1 litre long life milk - 90p
Tesco tortilla wraps (8) - 89p
Total = £6.19

Free from shopping list
Bfree white bread - £3.00
Tesco free from pasta 500g - £1.40
Tesco free from sausages - £2.00
Tesco free from fish fingers - £2.50
1 litre Oatly oat milk - £1.39
Newburn house wraps (8) - £5.98
Total = £16.27

For a small shopping list of just six items there was a difference of £10.08. Whilst I understand that free from food is a specialist market and may cost more to produce I find a 162% price increase hard to justify.

I've found that when they hear about Monkey's allergies they assume we get food for her on prescription. This is not the case, we get Neocate Spoon to help with weight gain but free from food prescriptions are not currently available for allergies. The cost is passed on to parents who are doing their best to keep their children safe while trying to keep things as normal as possible for them. We have no choice but to pay these prices. But 162% more each week can soon add up, adding money to the ever increasing list of things for allergy parents to worry about.

I'm not quite sure what the answer is. Maybe food could be made available on prescription as it is to people with coeliac disease, maybe some kind of capped limit needs to be put on free from foods. Until then, I think the picture I saw today doesn't even come close to showing the real cost of caring for a child with allergies.

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