The Government’s food strategy announcement in June is to be welcomed. Not least, it provides the chance to look at food, nutrition and the environment in its entirety, through multiple lenses.
Food is more than fuel. It characterises who we are and how we live our lives, it influences our health and wellbeing, and the food we produce in the UK shapes the landscape we live in, provides jobs and supports the economy.
Eating healthily is not just about eating less and cutting things out. The integrated message of variety, balance and nutrient density – making every calorie count – needs to be reflected in food production right through to what we teach children in school about food, establishing food literacy from an early age.
A vibrant food sector is reliant on a ready supply of talent to grapple with challenges around soil health, agronomy, food technology and food engineering, right through to the practical skills and passion needed to deliver tasty, nutritious and appealing food. But is the education system fostering an interest in science-based careers in food, and can the new strategy improve matters?
At the British Nutrition Foundation, we believe that a minimum level of ‘food education’ should be provided for all young people and that the curriculum should enable progression from GCSE food studies to A-level, providing a springboard for careers – and, importantly, the skills required to implement an integrated food strategy.
We support teachers via our holistic ‘Food – a fact of life’ programme, comprising free resources that focus on food provenance, cooking and healthy eating. The food strategy provides an opportunity for joined-up planning – not only ensuring we have the right food for our nation, but delivering future generations who aspire to have a career in ‘food’.