The National Food Strategy has rightly declared war on junk food, but bypasses the crucial issue of how our diet harms the climate
I’ve spent a long time waiting for the UK to produce a proper and detailed plan to reform its dysfunctional relationship with food. The problems are numerous: we don’t properly count the cost of our poor diets, both to our own health and to our environment, and we have dietary guidelines that basically no one follows. Lots of our eating habits – particularly a preference for huge chunks of meat and lots of sugar – were formed in a time when food was less plentiful and more expensive. We now consume these foods on a massive scale while falling short on the fruit and vegetables that would help us avoid diseases in later life.
For the first time, the plan released by the National Food Strategy combines all the sectors involved in our food system – from farming to government procurement, education to industry and trade. No single solution will fix our food system alone, so this kind of comprehensive approach is really welcome. As is the government’s recent announcement of a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm. This new independent report continues the war on junk food by proposing the world’s first tax on sugar and salt for use in processed foods, catering businesses and restaurants. The tax – with some of resulting revenue ringfenced for providing fruit and veg to low-income families – should have big health benefits, building on those of the sugary drinks levy introduced a few years ago.