From farm to classroom: the need for better food education

November 24th 2014

Brigitte Alarcon

Brigitte Alarcon

LiveWell for LIFE has identified eight policy recommendations which we believe can greatly support the adoption of healthy, sustainable diets. These will be presented at ‘On our plate today: healthy and sustainable food choices’ which takes place in Brussels 11 December.

This is the third blog in a series looking at some of our final recommendations. Here, Brigitte Alarcon Sustainable Food Policy Officer – LiveWell for LIFE talks about the topic of recommendation number 1 C: Support food education.

Last week, a study[1] commissioned by consultancy firm McKinsey and Company found that obesity is one of the top three social burdens on the UK economy generated by people. Costing the country nearly £47bn a year, obesity has an economic impact higher than armed violence, war and terrorism. The report identifies 74 interventions to tackle obesity. Education is at the core of seven of them.The need for education on ‘food, nutrition and the environment’ has recently been identified as a win-win solution by LiveWell for LIFE and our Network of European Food Stakeholders[2]. Deemed impactful, cost-effective and with high political acceptability, education can efficiently deliver long-term result for both health and sustainability.

By engineering well-informed consumers, ‘food, nutrition and the environment’ education is likely to have direct benefits for the environment and health – especially that of children. If the example of education on recycling is anything to go by, it could also have positive indirect effects on the behaviours adopted by their parents.WWF-UK has been a long-standing advocate for education to sustainability. One of our workshops for school children – Tropical chocolate – is a fun way for children to discover the process of chocolate making. Here children learn to think about fair trade, environmentally-friendly packaging and how consuming chocolate in moderation can be part of a healthy sustainable diet – as advocated by LiveWell for LIFE.Education on food, nutrition and sustainability can help improve consumers’ basic knowledge of what constitutes healthy diets and of the environmental impacts of food production and consumption. This will in turn enable decision-makers, companies and environmental organisations to have meaningful dialogue on issues relating to healthy and sustainable food.Making sure that consumers understand basic food sustainability issues – how our food is produced, sourced and manufactured and what impact our food consumption has on the climate – is critical to ensuring that labelling, advertising and marketing get key messages to consumers.

As such, the ability to understand from an early age the intrinsic value of food will without a doubt deliver benefits for businesses. Policies that support food education will enable the food sector to attract talent. It’ll ensure that consumers can understand and appreciate the work of those companies that implement credible sustainability initiatives.

 

Brigitte Alarcon, Sustainable Food Policy Officer – LiveWell for LIFE

 


[1] How the world could better fight obesity, McKinsey Global Institute, November 2014 | byRichard Dobbs, Corinne Sawers, Fraser Thompson, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Peter Child, Sorcha McKenna, and Angela Spatharou http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/economic_studies/how_the_world_could_better_fight_obesity

[2] Please see our upcoming report: On our plate today: healthy, sustainable food choices

Comments are closed.