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Covid-19 - A painful reality check, The National Food Strategy

15 July 2021

It is time to take food and farming education seriously. As the country recovers from Covid-19, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring about real change every child must have the opportunity to discover the connections between the food they eat, their own health and the health of the planet starting with those from the poorest households, because how we eat determines how the world is used and how we live.

Now is the time for action. Let every child visit a real working farm, to inspire their curiosity, and let them make connections so they can discover through first-hand experience where their food comes from and gain the knowledge, confidence and agency to make good food choices - good for them, good for the planet.

Published today, Thursday 15th July, the National Food Strategy today calls on the Government to commit to a historic package of reforms in order to build a better food system for a healthier nation.

  • National Food Strategy calls Covid 19 a “painful reality check” that is an opportunity to transform our food system to save lives
  • Calls for landmark Sugar and Salt Reformulation Tax, expansion of Free School Meals and major overhaul of food education as part of once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink our diets and food production
  • Poor diet currently contributes to an estimated 64,000 deaths every year in England

In a landmark report, food entrepreneur Henry Dimbleby sets out in stark detail how poor diets contribute to around 64,000 deaths every year in England alone and cost the economy an estimated  74 billion. Dimbleby also warns that our eating habits are destroying the environment, which in turn threatens our food security. The food we eat accounts for around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, and is the leading cause of biodiversity destruction.

The independent report, commissioned by the Government in 2019, calls for the introduction of the world’s first Sugar and Salt Reformulation Tax, with some of the money being used toexpand free school meals and support the diets of those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods. It also calls for food education to be central to the national curriculum, and for food standards to be protected in any new trade deals. Dimbleby also recommends measures to restore and protect our natural environment, by investing in sustainable farming techniques and new food technologies such as novel proteins.

Major backers of today’s report include chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver, social welfare expert and former senior civil servant Dame Louise Casey, the economist Partha Dasgupta, and the chef Prue Leith.

The National Food Strategy report sets out how our diets will need to change over the next ten years in order to meet the Government’s existing targets on health, climate and nature. By 2032, fruit and vegetable consumption will have to increase by 30%, and fibre consumption by 50%, while consumption of food high in saturated fat, salt and sugar will have to go down by 25%, and meat consumption should reduce by 30%.

Girl in a field
Farmer with students
A girl in a field