What's the connection: Jaguars, school food and ambulances?

Vicki Hird - 08 February 2011

Vicki Hird: What is the connection between the jaguar, a school meal and ambulance refits? There is one. Honest. It’s about food. And about how much and what we eat.

I was not surprised to hear recently that ambulances are being refitted in some parts of the UK to allow transit of a rapidly growing in number of obese patients. The path to obesity is complex involving mental, and physical health and environmental factors. But the marketing of cheap junk food has to be an issue. It’s hard to resist and hard to get off the poor food treadmill.

Happily, junk food in school meals has been getting attention for some years. But there is a real danger that progress made to improve meals and get kids cooking will be lost. Shrinking funding streams, new government interference and cuts threaten many steps forward such as: the Soil Association’s successful Food for life programme which is a whole school approach to get more fresh, low impact and local food eaten and understood by kids, carers and schools; getting learning to cook on the curriculum; and local food delivery schemes.

Where’s the jaguar in all this? Well its part of a vitally important, but severely threatened ecosystem in South America called the Cerrado. There is massive expansion of soy and pasture land into these wild habitats to provide meat and feed for intensively reared chickens, pigs and cattle in the west. Cheap chicken nuggets, burgers and bangers rely on this protein and few realise the impact it is having.

The Soil Association Conference in Manchester this week will be a fascinating one with a great line up. Will the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs say something about any of this?  Will we agree? Can’t wait.

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Tim Young
08 February 2011 11:04

Thanks Vicki, nice blog - my money's on the Secretary of State not mentioning the Cerrado, we'll see tomorrow!

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