Changing the conversation about health

Warding off the diseases of plenty: why we need a better food culture

GetFileAttachment-1Simon Tuckey has just become our Ambassador to the food industry. He explains why we should all join the fight for healthier food.

“Foodismedicine” is an unattractive use of the English language but a huge opportunity for us to make a healthier and happier society.

I’ve been in the food industry all my life and I guess I’ve always known that we are what we eat but the data now to back that up is over-whelming and un-ignorable!

The biggest killers in our society today can be tamed by changing what and how we eat. I am so excited to become a part of this effort.

When I joined the food industry in 1972, the average British household spent 30% of it’s income on food, now it’s 11%. After the war people were hungry and governments worldwide urged the food industry to provide food – cheaply and a lot of it.

The biggest killers in our society today can be tamed by changing what and how we eat.

We were very successful but it has come with an expected price – first and foremost, a western but increasingly a global, epidemic of obesity: of course it something becomes cheaper, consumption of that thing normally goes up.

Second a dramatic increase in the use of cheap ingredients (like wheat and sugar) and a reduction in taste coming from the real provenance of a food: taste instead comes from intense flavourings and artificial additives.

Third – a massive increase in ‘food miles’ with an attendant destruction of local supply chains and, sadly for me, a decline in seasonality – if we want strawberries in January, we have them.

Of course we are all busy and the temptation of a tasty ready meal is great. Food now is mostly ‘within and arm’s reach of desire’. It tastes good so we have it. The opposite world of sourcing locally, growing your own, taking an hour or more to prepare a meal (rather than the UK average for dinner preparation – now said to be 11 minutes) is hard to contemplate even if the soul is willing.

But surely we have to do something to ward off the diseases of plenty.

Yes it will cost time and money but if the result is both pleasurable (have you shelled fresh peas recently?) tastes better and makes me well, then it’s worth a try!

I hope to create a new understanding of these issues within the food manufacturing and retailing industry. We are embracing wonky vegetables and cutting waste, we are signing up for allotments (with 5 year waiting lists) and buying food directly from small producers. The time is right to connect food in all its glory with wellness and that is exactly what our campaign,#foodismedicine, is all about. Join us.


Simon Tuckey