Over the years, I grew more involved within the Food Security community while writing my dissertation about the possibilities of global governing structures being able to mitigate food security issues. I particularly became interested in the problems we have with our current social and political systems which allow 1 billion people to suffer from hunger and malnutrition, while another 1 billion are currently suffer from obesity and malnutrition from an over-consumption of the wrong things. This boom of obesity is not from what you’d expect of a globalised world, where globalisation is touted for its bringing of resources and people together to share in the wealth and the other supposed benefits of this phenomena. It is actually experienced by some of the world’s poorest. Many of you may not realise, but the UK has recently been deemed one of the fattest countries in the world! Inside Government has published that, “In England, most people are overweight or obese. This includes 61.3% of adults and 30% of children aged between 2 and 15″, and these numbers are only rising! Being overweight and obese leads to many devastating health factors that hinder individual life experience, but also a countries productivity and is felt in massive health care demands – today the NHS in the UK spends over £5 Billion a year on health related issues to individuals being overweight and obese! Think about how else this money could be better put to use! If the government simply put effective food policies in place protecting their citizens from killer fillers, or sponsored educational programs and campaigns to teach about nutrition and cooking, or better yet, fixing the poverty rates allowing people to afford a salad over a £1 McMeal…there are many ways the government could spend their time and money to ensure a healthier electorate. They just need a big enough nudge to inspire their will to act!
I personally feel, and have discovered through my research, that the power the big food industries hold over governments ability to process policies is astounding! But it makes sense when our entire population is driven by profits and have been socialised to live to eat instead of eating to live. But I do not by any means mean to say this is an easy challenge. Because food encompasses so many elements within society, everything from the production of seeds, farming, transport, packaging, retail and so fourth, enforcing policies that negatively affect large companies can throw a country into massive unemployment (and we are already in a bad place). Governments must balance options, but too much of the time it is profits being considered over the health of people.
I do believe some of the responsibility falls onto the individual, as we are the ones choosing to eat the things we do most of the time. I have struggled all my life being overweight. I never knew the balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates until I was 20! It wasn’t taught in school, my parents never thought about it and only until I moved away for University did I take control of my weight and examine for myself what was in food. So we need to actively educate ourselves and be as aware as we can to what is in our foods and what consists of a healthy, balanced diet. However, this education should be provided by governments funding at least at the basic level and governments should protect their citizens from the hidden ingredients big food companies fill their products with the enhance everything from colour, taste, texture to longevity, most of the time these fillers are unneccessary or could be exchanged for natural products instead of using items such as petrol and arsenic!!! Also, governments should at the very least enforce the labeling of such ingredients when studies have proven such ingredients have lead to adverse health affects.
Even though I would consider myself to be quite knowledgeable on foods today, I am constantly surprised how many calories can be crammed into the smallest morsel, or of what is pumped into certain foods. You don’t have to be a calorie counter, but looking at the labels is important to understand what you are about to consume, and help balance a healthy lifestyle. And I do not believe for one second that this world could just suddenly wake up one day and change everything we’ve ever known to become healthier and conscious of our health and environment…however, through small changes, we as individuals can make a big difference in our own lives, this in turn shapes demand, therefore changing how companies catered to us.
Also, governments can be pressured from these demands to make important changes from the top. It is this coordination we need to gradually create to better our future for ourselves and the generations to come. Why should we sit idly by allowing companies to profit while hindering our health? It’s our planet, our bodies, our money and we should be respected enough as human beings to be sold healthy, natural and adequate food! I am by far not perfect and succumb to eating things I know I shouldn’t, or wearing things less ethical – I follow Meat-free Mondays, and I am against animal testing and cruelty, but I am aware that to live completely ethically perfect, we couldn’t have most shoes made of leather or drink bottled water (the list could go on and on). I want to address a variety of ways people can incorporate into their lives to live better, ones that wouldn’t require too much of a shock to ones life – but over time, by incorporating these healthy, sustainable habits, we can include more and more and eventually achieve a lasting culture.
Transparency and participation is what democracy is all about, yet for a democratic country, we certainly have a lot of secrets and domination over our food. This is where Food Girl comes in! Food Girl will be looking for current food crimes and bringing them to your attention enabling you to be informed, make the right decisions and get involved where you feel passionate.
I hope you will enjoy this journey to discovering how to live healthier, learning how to take control of your consumer rights and no longer be kept in the dark, being tricked by profiteering companies abusing your health, the planets health all for a few pence increase!
Fighting food crimes one spoonful at a time!