Announcing a Freemium version! Get your FREE subscription to Organic Insider today!

Extreme Couponing – A Very Disturbing Television Show

Extreme Couponing - A Very Disturbing Television Show

Last night, I got home late and put the television on. Since there is something wrong with my cable box (I keep forgetting to call Time Warner), it was on TLC and I could not change the channel. So, I found myself watching a show called Extreme Couponing. The camera follows very, very serious coupon […]

Health President Obama TV Shows USDA

Last night, I got home late and put the television on. Since there is something wrong with my cable box (I keep forgetting to call Time Warner), it was on TLC and I could not change the channel.

So, I found myself watching a show called Extreme Couponing. The camera follows very, very serious coupon collectors as they prepare for and go on a massive shopping trip to the supermarket.

Don’t think for one second that these individuals are casual coupon collectors. After all, there is a reason why TLC calls it Extreme Couponing.

They keep coupons in 3-ring binders, have elaborate filing systems, create spreadsheets of their shopping lists, bring full notebooks to the market, jump into dumpsters looking for coupons and steal coupon-laden newspapers from nearby foreclosed properties.

And let’s not forget the dozens of storage racks that they have in their homes to keep thousands of tubes of toothpaste and other food items.

These people are shrewd and dedicated. They will spend up to 35 hours per week couponing and can purchase $500 of goods for $27.

For some items, they will actual receive cash back. They’ll make money on purchases!!

Now, I am all for coupons and saving money, especially in this economy. I think that it’s fantastic. In no way do I have any problem with this. None.

What I found very disturbing was watching what they were buying and going to eat for the next several months — heavily processed, genetically-modified food that was filled with artificial flavors, growth hormones and pesticides.

This is food that is heavy in calories, high in sugar and very, very low in nutrition. This is the food that is making our country sick. This is the food that major agricultural corporations want people eating.

As someone who cares tremendously about health, Extreme Couponing was very painful to watch. I felt badly for these people because no one, including our government, has properly taught them how to eat.

In the end, they pay for it with their health and we pay for it with massive health care costs.

If you haven’t seen Food, Inc., The Future of Food or Forks Over Knives, please do so. It will show you how Big Ag and other major corporations have influenced our government and the USDA, which has resulted in Americans continuing to make very unhealthy food choices.

Also, please watch my interview with Andrew Kimbrell, the Executive Director of The Center for Food Safety, as he details how President Obama continues to heavily promote a genetically-modified food agenda.

Fixing our country’s health problems is a complex issue but organic food, not genetically-modified food, needs to be part of the solution. However, Congress continues to dedicate nearly all of its food-related resources to GMOs.

Organic food is slightly more expensive because the industry is not being subsidized by our government. It is simply not a level playing field, and this is something that we absolutely need to change.

If they ever do an episode about an extreme couponing organic food shopper, please let me know — because I can assure you that I won’t be watching this program anymore.


Please sign up for my newsletter to receive my Top 5 Inexpensive Ways to Shop organic. There are definite ways to make shopping organic less expensive.





  • Michelle says:

    I just happened across this article in the hunt for a link to the episode I just watched. My first impression on this show was not a good one (I too saw that enormous couple from Washington eating awful food and stock piling their shelves with items they couldn’t use before they were expired). I just happened on the show again, my program ended and this was the next show on, I was too busy cleaning and just needed the background noise so I let it run. But what came on actually stopped me in my tracks and had me watching 15 min. It was a woman who was hired by a man that ran a home for way word boys and he was looking for someone to buy all of their groceries for 2 weeks for $150 or less. By the way, he has 6 teenage boys living there. His one requirement was that everything had to be organic and healthy. That was where I sat down, I figured there was no way, my husband and I alone spend about 150 on groceries for just the 2 of us for a Week to eat organic (though mind you we do eat some very nice meals because we can).

    This woman bought $732 worth of organic groceries at Whole Foods to feed and clean 7 men for 2 weeks (which is about right), she included things like almond milk, salad!, soap, oats (or some sort of grain), soup, etc… Everything was organic and/or very natural (I’m extremely picky about what I use and recognized most of the products she bought)…. She spent $107 and change.

    That was impressive and I hope they show more couponing like that.

  • Lisa says:

    I watched it for the first time not too long ago out of curiosity. And I was so sad watching it. Unhealthy looking people buying unhealthy things and getting so excited with their “wins”.

  • Mary Jo says:

    I shop with my daughter (she is the couponer) and she only shops for what she can use. She is a health-nut and does not shop to fill her house. People who shop to see how much they can get for so little simply do not understand the real principle of shopping/couponing. Coupon shopping can be done in a healthy manner.

  • I wanted to let you know, that the show Extreme Couponing started out this past season with a person doing a total organic shop at Whole Foods. I was so excited to see this! I contacted them to encourage them to have more episodes like this as it encourages people to think about their health and show’s people it can be very affordable. I, myself, have attempted extreme couponing, and where it is truly a benefit is on the toiletries. I was able to stock up on razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, etc. That’s where the savings really pays off, so I can spend a little more on healthier foods. So hopefully Extreme Couponing will start showing more people who shop organically and encourage more people to start thinking about what they are putting in their body.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Jen,

      If the show can expose more people using coupons to save on organic foods, then I am all for it. 100%!!!

      Live well,

  • WNCmountaingirl says:

    oops meant ” I know it was NOT a high dollar run ” in the above comment…

  • WNCmountaingirl says:

    Well they FINALLY had a show with organic only …She shopped at Whole Foods and had a 150 dollar budget and paid less than 50 bucks for it … yeah I know it was a high dollar 600 dollar run but hey that is a HUGE savings to be done at whole foods !!!! She did it in order to stock up a home for boys (teens) “a sober house”….and they teach garbage in then garbage out so they only eat organic and healthy… I was impressed none the less with one !! Show air date was Sunday night Nov 26th….(may have been a repeat but not sure) oh and she did it in order to get a job at this place …that was her “interview” she had to do it in order to get the job…

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi WNCmountaingirl,

      I have not seen the Whole Foods episode but would actually watch that one. I am curious to know which products she bought there.

      Live well,

  • Michelle says:

    I recently watched what I assume was the first season of this show (its on Netflix now, we don’t have cable) and while I was equally appalled by the eating habits the show featured, not all of the people on the show were overweight.

    They make a point with each episode to use dramatic phrases like “…preparing for her largest haul yet!” and make a point to show just how much they can save. Yes, theses people have large stockpiles of processed foods BUT that is what makes for ‘good’ TV. No one wants to watch a show that shows someone saving a little money on their weekly, normal size grocery store. That wouldn’t be a show, that’s just real life.

    You also can’t stockpile fruit and fresh food so it won’t be shown in massive quantities and you can rarely get coupons for it so it won’t be part of the shopping trip they do especially for the show.

    What bothered me more then what they were buying was the consumer driven obsession to stockpile much more then could ever be used (enough bodywash for one shower a day for 59 years!) and the fact that some of them did not seem to donate their surplus (One woman pointed to a bunch of dog treats, etc in her stockpile and said with a laugh “We don’t even have a dog!”)

    All I could think about while I watched the show was the various local charities I could donate to if I could learn to coupon that way. (One woman did get 400 boxes of cat food – for free – that she gave to a local shelter, another picked up enough things to make 1,000 care packages to send to our troops)

    That’s my 2 cents…


    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Michelle,

      I find the show to be incredibly disturbing but the unfortunate part of it is that this is representative of a large part of America. Healthy eating has just not taken hold in the U.S., and that is why 41% of the population will get cancer and 21% of the population will die from cancer. I am hopeful that things are starting to change but shows like Extreme Couponing do not help.

      Live well,

  • Nicole says:

    I have seen this show many times and am completely in awe of what I see. I have thought about it being an accountant, how this “extreme” purchasing is even possible. I, being an organic consumer, am in shock of the foods being stock piled as well. I am on my own personal search to make organic more affordable for my family and I by growing expensive organic produce, clipping organic coupons, and paticipating in reward programs.

    To put a positive spin on this discussin, though I am many months late, our local Kroger (a.k.a Ralph’s in other areas of the country) stores have plenty of affordable store label organics. They do not have everything, but there are some choices that are affordable. This past month there was a label change and all of the “old” labeled food was donated to a food bank. Though I was angry at first and did not understand why this food was not placed on sale, my lovely fiance reminded me that someone was going to get organic, non-gmo, non-processed food for their families who could not afford such. It is nice to see that in my community a small change was made for a few. I hope that stores like Kroger continue to donate organic products to food banks when possible.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for your feedback, and I was in shock by what I saw as well. And yes, I hope Kroger’s continues to donate organic food to food banks when possible. I just have no idea if and when they do.

      Live well,

  • Julie says:

    Just browsing your articles, I’m a little behind. Reading a comment, stirs these thoughts. I use to donate food to a local food shelter. I had a set up with a few stores, where I would pick up food that was close to or past it’s “best buy” date.( many have a shelf life much longer than this date, manufacturer quality standards require it to be sold by this date) This is food that the stores would have otherwise thrown out, but had agreed to let me take it to the food shelter. I did this for many months and it was a great feeling, helping. The food shelter actually asked me to slow down, I was bringing in 6+ boxes a day! There was so much food that would have been otherwise wasted! But then one day I realized, should I be doing this? This food it all GMO, processed, unhealthy stuff. Is this good for people who might be otherwise nutritionally deprived? I battled with this decision. Many I consulted with said “it’s a good thing, these people have no food.” In the end, I just couldn’t do it anymore. My intentions were good, but my heart said no! The junk belongs in the garbage and I am happy to know it did not sell at the store.!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for sharing. It brings up a real dilemma. Are people better off with no food or junk, GMO-processed food that is completely nutritionally devoid? I would side with you and try to get these food shelters to start offering a healthy alternative.

      Live well,

  • sarah says:

    Hello all. You obiously have not seen the vegan who does that same thing for healthy food. I coupon like the show and do not eat unhealthy food. Stockpiles are amazing. Expecially for free stuff. Like tp and papertowels and toothpaste that we all donate to people in need. Poor people cannot be choosers. People who dont coupon are crazy.! And i understand that people do not have time to coupon but i only spend 10 hours a week and save tons of money. You just cant be lazy.

  • Sofie says:

    Great article!

    I wonder if one day these Extreme Couponers will realize how unhealthy their diets are and that they can’t eat anything in their stockpile and all their time and effort was for nothing.

    Also, with all the time and effort they put in wouldn’t they rather just get a part time job? I’m sure it would pay better.

    Still, I’m addicted to this show…

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Sofie,

      Thanks! Yes, I really hope one day that they will come to realize how unhealthy their diets are as well. The health challenges we face in this country are very serious and need to be addressed by our food choices.

      Live well,

  • Cyn says:

    I was just watching the show and it featured a young women all of 24 years old who weighed probably 225 pounds and her friend. I am almost 50 and I work out, take care of myself and by no means eat processed foods. This girl has too much time on her hands which would better be served spending time in the gym and taking care of her child. I have a son with Autism and I watch what he eats and that means fresh fruits and vegetables not processed dinners and sugary foods. I could not believe that this was a 24 year old, with all that weight she looked 35! Get a job, work out and find something better to do with your time time, diving in dumpsters is not considered a workout!!!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Cyn,

      I agree with you. Very unfortunately, the show represents what is going in our country and it is really sad that people are not getting the message. It is a travesty that the U.S. is doing so little to educate people about staying healthy.

      Very glad to hear that you are watching your son’s eating habits closely! He’s lucky to have you.

      Live well,

  • megan towe says:

    Hello, they obviously do not JUST eat the perishables. This is to save and help people in the world whom really need it. Also, if you watch more shows you will discover they also eat veggies and fruits..get over it and stop being such a health freak.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Megan,

      A big majority of the food on the show is super-processed and can last months on the shelves in the garage. Fruits and vegetables are rarely, if ever, featured on the program.

      Criticizing me for being a health freak would be valid if our country didn’t suffer from serious cancer and obesity epidemics. However, the U.S. is incredibly overweight and unhealthy. Maybe it doesn’t bother you but it bothers me because my tax dollars go to pay the exorbitant health care costs of people who totally neglect their health.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Live well,

  • Christine says:

    Hi Max!
    Very good points being made regarding your article! Thank you for writing it!
    It is funny that I found your post today as I was in the middle of cutting coupons!! LOL

    I agree that while watching this show I had moments…many….when I found myself reflecting on how most of these people eat.
    Though there was one show that I saw with a vegan and she used coupons a little differently, food items bought were Organic ….I think mostly she used coupons for non food items. And she saved a lot of money.

    I personally use coupons. I use them about the same way the Vegan in the show did. That is the way I use them for me and my family.

    I also have a non profit organization; we help families with various living expenses. One thing we do is to give food to the local food pantries. We use their list of needed items and we use coupons to buy the items. I do not make up the list of foods, the pantries do. I just buy the items.

    My goal is to one day be so good at this that I am able to donate great quantities to our local food pantries. As the economy has gone down so has the food in the pantries. Also any expired coupons go to our Military troops; they can continue to use expired coupons for a year beyond the expire date. I know that some of the foods are not what I would feed my family. I am not sure what I can do about that…… but not donating is not an option. If I wanted to take a stand for better healthier foods, it would mean not donating. I just can’t do that. But I admit to being conflicted!!

    When I use coupons for my family I use it for Organic items or non food items. A Google search for Organic food coupons will get you to the sites with the coupons. And we have a family garden.

    I agree it is sad to watch the show and see how people are eating and feeding their families. Not only feeding them but raising them to feed their children the same way. If things do not change…our future looks bleak. Although…I see a real trend in eating healthier among my friends, family and acquaintances.

    Thank you for the article and thank you to your readers for great comments!!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Christine,

      The whole coupons issue is a complicated one. People want a place to save money but at the same time to eat healthy.

      Unfortunately, organic coupons are just not that widespread and easily accessible because organic food companies have very small margins as it is.

      I very much appreciate your feedback and thanks so much for reading my blog.

      Live well,

  • Darlene says:

    I just watched Extreme Couponing for the first time. I agree, with the majority of the other comments. These people are large, their food choices are poor, they are not teach their children healthy nutrition, and if you have supplies for 5-9 years worth of food and other products, why on earth do you continue to shop for your home? The only positive side is when they are shopping for churches, food banks, charities and school athletic teams. One woman has a room called “The Cookie Jar”. She does not need to be dunking anything in milk.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Darlene,

      Thanks so much for sharing your opinions.

      The issue with the charity is a tricky one. Are people better off having processed, GMOs or nothing at all? The answer is they need quality, healthy food.

      Live well,

  • CY says:

    If you live by the addage “Shop the perimeter of the store to stay healthy,” then you cannot be an extreme couponer. Also, I saw a woman on an episode buying 35 bottles of Maalox, no wonder!!!

  • I found that show disturbing. The fat couple from Washington state made me sick. The woman was so smug about her MBA (useless) and how it gave her an edge in couponing. The were obviously on a horrible diet and asking for trouble with health problems .

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Jack,

      I found the show very, very disturbing as well. The food that these people are eating is what really upset me.

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Live well,

  • ruth welch says:

    I was so angry watching this show. I am an avid couponer & all I kept thinking was “you can bet grocery retail staff is watching this & are on the phone setting up meetings to bite this in the bud NOW”.
    And sure enough they did.
    These extreme couponers have ruined it for us “sane” couponers. Thank you so much!
    I hate to agree w/ ALL of you here but my husband & I eat these “processed” foods & are healthy & w/in our weight frames. Moderation is commen sense.

  • kelly says:

    I saw the same show and started to get excited and watching the shopping experience kind peeved me that we have allowed yet another obsessed compulsion to be glorified. (Oh, and after that program aired “hoarders” was on)I feel like this will become a new trend and there won’t be any Couponing ever again because retailers will not make money (rewarding) giving merchandise away to people alert their sales. Marketing demography and studies will be off because Couponers will throw record numbers in unnatural shopping trends. Is it at all possible this could affect the stock market? Is it possible to purchase shares of Colgate when the super markets make people buy twenty tubes of toothpaste to redeem five dollars off the next store visit? I’m a single person I eat the same basic foods and there are never coupons for Skim milk. Just a stereotypical observation but I didn’t see any healthy BMI type of folks on the show, and yes I agree it was crap they were buying.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Kelly,

      I don’t believe that coupons are ever going away, even with the show. What I do hope is that the show will raise awareness of the poor eating habits of the majority of the people in this country and Americans will start to make changes. Let’s hope that that takes place.

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Live well,

  • Peggy says:

    Hi Max,

    I do so want to say that I am also concerned as I have been for many years ! It has always seemed as though the manufacturers fail to focus on the unhealthy foods that coupons encourage alot of people to buy. I was as guilty as the next. I would remark many times when going through coupons inserts about how there were so many of them on candy bars, frozen ready to eat foods, energy drinks , sugar coated cerels and the list goes on. As I think about this I would have to say there are not many coupons out there for healthy foods. It would be nice if we couponers start seeing a change. there isen’t anything healthy about the show. Thanks for being concerned about all of us Living Well ! Peggy

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Peggy,

      Yes, I am very concerned about the health of the couponers and want all people to live well. Unfortunately, coupons in the organic world are few and far between. However, they do exist but probably won’t show up in the Sunday newspapers.

      I have compiled all of the organic coupons that I could find here. It would be great if you could share this link with all of your couponing friends. If we can get people to eat more organic, the healthier we all will be.

      Thanks so much!

      Live well,

  • Peggy says:

    I am and have been referred to as the coupon queen for 25+ years. I am very disappointed as to the way this is misleading people about couponing. If there are couponers like myself watching the show you know what I mean. For one we know most of the coupons and their value and know you could not get some of the items for free, to say the least give us money back. This has since caused so much confusion in most store that there is now a limit of coupons one can use. I have been told by the Kroger cashiers that couponers are getting very upset when they do not get money back, limited coupons, and you must use your plus card before the order starts to ring thru. And in no way is it legal to go thru recycle bins for coupons and it plainly says so on them. I am so sad that this show has misled so many people. They need to do a good research. It has given coupons a bad name. Bet these same shoppers could not do the same thing now !

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Peggy,

      It is nice to have a comment from The Coupon Queen! Thanks for joining in.

      My issue with the program is the super-processed, GMO-food that people are buying for the next 6-12 months that they will store in their garages. As I say in my post, I have absolutely no issue with people trying to save money. None. I think it is great.

      However, we have major health problems in the U.S. (about 50% of the population will get cancer, we are an obese country, etc.) and the foods that we are eating are contributing to these problems. For me, this was the disturbing part of the show — seeing what most Americans are eating.

      It seems for you that the type of foods that people are buying is not an issue but rather you don’t like how professional couponers are being portrayed — jumping into dumpsters, abusing the system, etc.

      We both see the show as disturbing but for very different reasons.

      I appreciate your comment.

      Live well,

  • Mark says:

    The first time I caught an episode was Saturday. I thought it was so cool. A lady and her newlywed daughter bought over a thousand dollars worth of goods for 7 bucks and change. Most of the purchase was for wash deturgent, soap, pharmas and paper products. They took what was needed for their family for the coming 12 months and donated the rest to local charities.

    If there was a bad box of cereal or a processed can good, well chance are someone starving would enjoy a little “bad” food over no food at all. I believe anything in excess can be bad and that the not-so-good for you in moderation is not always that bad, especially when linked to good hearted charity.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Mark,

      You bring up an interesting point. Is genetically-modified food (when given to charities) better than no food at all for hungry people? I guess it is.

      However, the primary goal of the people on the show is to feed themselves first and then give the rest away that they are not using. And all the soaps and detergents are filled with chemicals as well. They are not natural/eco-friendly products.

      Live well,

  • sandra says:

    While I agree with most of the comments about this show and the low quality, even harmful foods, that are commonly served on too many dinner tables in this country; I would encourage people to not be so negative and attacking in their comments. Taking the conversation down that road never leads any where productive and only leads to more negativity. Speaking with anger just causes your audience to disengage.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for your comment. While I cannot speak for other people who commented, I was not speaking about this show from an angry perspective. I was disturbed and saddened.

      It is about educating people and making sure they are informed.

      Live well,

  • jennifer says:

    I used to use coupons but I found I was buying “foods” that were not healthy at all. Things I would’t normaly eat. I would like to see the show, or just make another show; about saving money on groceries by growing your own foods and cutting out processed foods that have no nutritional value to save money. I have found that if you cut down portion size and don’t buy snacks, useless “foods”, and carbs you can spend the same, sometimes less, buying natural and organic meats, eggs, dairy, fruits, and veggies. Also, buying fresh fruit, like a peach, uses less packaging rather than buying peaches in a can.

    I would like to see grants for shows for public diet education.

    Personally I think the extreame couponers should spend more time at the gym and less time organizing their plans of “How to remain obese , toxic, unhealthy, obsessive compulive, horders, and a medical burden to health care, without spending alot of their own money.”

    I saw an obese couple buy such poisionus “foods” to eat for months in order to save $500.00 to go on a cruise. I was thinking, “You guys are so fat, how could you even enjoy traveling? I was picturing them squeezing into the plane’s seats and then squeezing into the ships cabins like stuffed sausages. Maybe they just go for the buffet? Also what about all the extra fuel it takes to cart those extreame fatties around. Not just for vacation, but for everyday heavy lifting, driving in their suv’s (cause they certainly don’t walk anywhere and they don’t fit in regular cars). Could this be why we use so much fuel, leading to extra fuel charges for ships and planes now?

    The US needs to stop being consumers and go back to being human beings, people.

    Wake up America! We have become fat, lazy, artificial, boring, materialistic, unproductive, and dumb. We have sold out to have a confortable, conveient, and solitary life on the couch watching others live their dreams. While being isolated and not physically connecting to other humans, waiting for diabiates to set in, to be sick so we can actually have an excuse to justifty sitting on the couch, and then after running up health bills, just dying anyways without giving anything back to the community. The only mark we are leaving is an increase in global warming, more waste being pumped into the ground and ocean, and a bigger trash heap at the dump.

    Nevermind God Bless America, God Help America!!!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks so much for your comment and feedback. We have a real problem in this country — we are obese and it is killing us.

      Television shows like Extreme Couponing show how a lot of Americans live, eat and shop. We need some real changes or the next generation of Americans will have shorter lives than its previous one. It is a very sad commentary.

      We need to keep raising the awareness and education level of how to eat properly. There really is no mystery to this. You eat well, you’re healthy.

      Live well,

  • maria says:

    I buy less, but healthier and I cook more than the average person, but yes, in the long run you will bee saving on your medical costs and other more important costs, your life! Wake up America! Avoid all non organic and processed foods. We are paying the ultimate price.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Maria,

      I agree with you. We are going to pay for it in the long-run if we don’t eat right.

      Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and concern!

      Live well,

  • Mikki says:

    Great post. I love to coupon too but since our diet has changed and we have become more aware of what we are eating and finding out where it comes from – I don’t use them as much as I do.
    I hate to say it but you’ll notice that a lot of the people who do this.. don’t look all that healthy.. in the long run.. is it worth the money they saved?? I don’t think so..

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Mikki,

      I can’t disagree with you here. Saving money to buy bad food is costing a person in the long run. That is what gets lost in all of this.

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Live well,

  • Luanne says:

    I had this SAME reaction when I watched this show two weeks ago. Everything they were buying and stockpiling was crap, for lack of a better word. I commented about it on facebook, as well. Very, very sad. Good post as a follow up! I will be sharing!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Luanne,

      I agree with you and that is why it disturbed me so much. Stockpiling such harmful products.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

      Live well,

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.