Allergy bumps up cost of living

August 12, 2017

News journalist Taylah Burrows pays extra for lactose-free milk in her coffee. Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith.

Paying for your allergies sucks.

I’m lactose intolerant, which means I struggle to digest milk sugars because my body has insufficient amounts of lactase enzymes.

If I consume lactose my intolerance manifests in nausea, vomiting, I get red and hot in the face and my digestive system suffers.

With this in mind, you can understand why when lactose-free products started appearing on shelves a couple of years ago I was in dairy heaven.

God bless Zymil and Liddells. These two brands have allowed me to enjoy milk, cheese, ice-cream and cream without suffering.

Things got even better when cafes started stocking Zymil; finally I could enjoy a latte with friends over brunch.

But my happiness comes at a price.

Back in 2012 I would pay about 40 cents extra to have my coffee made with Zymil; a small price, I thought, for a cup of pure caffeinated bliss.

But recently I found myself paying double that amount when a coffee outing cost me 80 cents extra for a beverage made with Zymil.

Let me get one thing straight, I know these milks cost extra to produce and as such cost cafes extra to stock.

I understand cafes need to make a profit and have to cover the costs of purchasing these additional items.

However, it still frustrates me that I have to pay so much more than my pals to enjoy the same pleasures in life as them.

Let’s do the math: a one-litre carton of Zymil costs $2.50.

My small latte at a cost of 80 cents extra is paying for almost one third of that litre without even using one third of the milk.

We also have to assume that some of the cost of that milk is included in the base price that everyone else pays.

It also annoys me that I pay the same amount regardless of size.

Want a small? That’s 80 cents. Want an extra-large? That’s 80 cents.

Where’s the logic?

Consider this: a standard cup of coffee costs about $4. Say you get two cups a week, that’s $8 for coffee for the average consumer.

For me, it would cost $9.60. That’s $499.20 a year on coffee compared to $416 for the average Joe.

I know what you’re thinking: I don’t need to have coffee.

You’re right, which is why more often than not you will see me walk into work with a thermos of home-made coffee, sticking to instant in the office.

But, as a friend of mine pointed out, I would much rather spend $4(.80) on a cup of coffee for an hour of socialisation on a Sunday morning than $70 on alcohol, food and a taxi on a Saturday night out.

When I ask a waitress if their cafe has lactose-free milk they more often than not respond ‘‘We have soy or almond milk’’.

And I think: ‘‘Gross’’.

Soy milk is foul and I honestly believe no-one enjoys the taste — you’re all faking it.

Back to the point: I’m not a vegan who chose the non-dairy lifestyle; the allergy life chose me.

Is it too much to want a cup of cow-milk lactose-free coffee and drink it without becoming broke in the process? Apparently.

I know this is a First World problem and I’m having a whinge over warmed-up milk. But it’s the same problem coeliacs face when they have to purchase gluten-free bread or pasta if they go out to eat.

It’s a necessity, not a choice — and it sucks having to pay extra for it.

Taylah Burrows is a News journalist.

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