In this week’s Friday Dish: changing the way we shop and cook with Eat Well for Less; and Jamie’s Sugar Rush – are you in favour of a sugary drinks tax?
Last Night’s TV – Eat Well for Less & Jamie’s Sugar Rush
There was some pretty compelling TV on last night, in the shape of two very different food programmes.
At 8 o’clock I found myself glued to BBC1 for the return of a new series of Eat Well for Less, presented by Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin. If you didn’t watch the first series (I didn’t), then in a nutshell: Gregg and Chris follow a family on their usual grocery shop; they analyse how they can reduce the cost of their food bill and eat better food in the process. Shocked by our last grocery bill, my interest was piqued.
Last night it was the turn of the Scott-Dents – a family of five with three children under ten. Mum Kate admitted she found cooking a chore, to the point where she even bought sliced or grated cheese because slicing it herself was too much work (I loved her for that). Kate was also discovered to be throwing out a lot of food before its sell-by date because she was so worried about giving her family food poisoning.
It’s easy to judge the people on the show but the family’s experience more than rang a few bells for me. I think I spend way too much on groceries; I do buy more pre-made food than I probably should when it would be much cheaper and healthier to make it from scratch. And I do throw out more food than I feel comfortable admitting to. At the moment it’s about two grocery bags a week – mostly vegetables – which is absolutely shameful and I don’t feel good about that at all
What was fantastic about watching the Scott-Dents was the children’s reactions. Hands down the kids preferred the food Kate made from scratch every time, and said they wanted more family mealtimes together. The bonus was that overall the Scott-Dents saved £70 by changing their grocery and eating habits for a week.
There are more handy tips on the programme’s BBC website page as well as a quiz to help you find out what’s making your food bill so big. I’ll definitely be watching next week.
Jamie’s Sugar Rush
So then it was over to Channel 4 at 9pm for Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush. No stranger to these pages, this time Jamie is tackling the issue of our nation’s excessive sugar consumption.
You’d have to have been living under a rock not to have read or seen something in the media lately about how we’re all eating way too much sugar than is good for us. True to form, Jamie got down to the nitty gritty and explained it in easy to understand language.
The two biggest problems related to our sugar consumption are obesity-related Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Watching a young boy have six rotten teeth removed under general anaesthetic was uncomfortable viewing but he’s just one of over 45 thousand cases of children going to hospital for this procedure every year in the UK. In addition, some 170 limbs are amputated every year as a result of problems arising from Type 2 diabetes.
So what’s the solution? Jamie headed to Mexico where fizzy drinks like Coke and Pepsi are so ingrained in the culture that they’re even given to babies who are still breastfeeding. The country has a major problem on its hands: two-thirds of its population is obese and its desperate health care system is struggling with a rising incidence of blindness, limb amputation and death, all a result of eating and drinking too much sugar.
Faced with this, Mexico introduced a 1 peso a litre tax on drinks with added sugar in January last year. As a result, consumption of these drinks has fallen by 6% and the tax has raised over US$1 billion in one year alone, money which has been poured back into the health system.
A similar tax has been called for here in the UK by the British Medical Association, dentists and other health professionals. A 20p per litre tax on sugar-added drinks would potentially reduce consumption by 15%, obesity by 200,000 people and raise up to £1 billion a year for the NHS and food education in schools.
With no action so far from the government, Jamie is getting the ball rolling by introducing a tax in his own restaurants – 10p for every non-alcoholic drink that contains added sugar – and calling on his restaurant friends to do the same. The money raised will fund food education in schools under a new Children’s Health Trust.
In the meantime, there’s a petition to sign calling for the government to debate the introduction of a sugary drinks tax in Parliament. So if you want to do something to curb our dependence on sugar and support the NHS, here’s where you sign.
Every Friday we share the best of the week’s food and nutrition finds in the Friday Dish: what we’ve loved, what’s inspired us and what’s revolutionised our family mealtimes. We only review products, websites, books and recipes we absolutely love and want to share with our readers; we are not paid for our reviews.