By Anna Taylor, Chief Executive, Food Foundation
“But I don’t like vegetables” says little Jonny. Sound familiar? I would be surprised if anyone reading this hadn’t heard a child say this. And our Veg Facts briefing published this week shows it is true. A staggering 1 in 10 primary school children and 1 in 4 secondary school children eat less than one portion of vegetables a day. And, as The Sunday Times reported at the weekend, much of the veg they do eat is highly processed – 17% of it comes from pizza toppings and baked beans!
The latest government guidance (the Eatwell Guide) which has passed largely unnoticed indicates we should be eating 7 portions of fruit and veg a day to ensure we get enough fibre and get more of our calories from healthy foods and less from the energy dense high fat sugar and salt foods which now dominate our diets.
Everyone knows veg is good for you and virtually no-one eats 3.5 portions of veg a day (half of the 7 a day), probably me included. That’s why the Food Foundation, WWF and Nourish Scotland have launched the Peas Please project. This is not about more advice to consumers. It’s about making it easier to eat veg, and using our food system to do it.
But currently our food system is so skewed away from eating veg, this requires nothing short of a veg revolution. And we’re hoping to initiate one and we hope you can help us. Typical families in Britain now spend a third of their food budget eating out. We now get on average 11% of our calories from eating out but only 6% of our veg we eat is eaten out of the home. How can you help to shift this? How can you help your customers, particularly children, eat an extra portion of veg a day?
Whether it’s through prices, marketing, positioning on the menu, meal deals, provenance, taste or product development we would love to know what you’ve tried to get people eating more veg, and whether it has worked. And if you’ve got great ideas you could share with others, or challenges which are difficult to overcome or whether you’d like to work with others to come up with fresh solutions, you all have a part to play in Peas Please. This project will bring people together, working in different parts of the supply chain, to delve into these challenges and agree what should be done about them, in the run up to a major vegetable summit on June 7 2017. Please join us in this challenge.