Do We Stand A Chance?

I think that as the situation stands now, it is unfair to expect the general public to act responsibly and eat healthy.

I'm a country mouse. We live in a pretty rural area in the north of Israel and last week we went to the "big city" to see a movie. The cinema was in a big shopping center and we walked through quite a bit of it to get to the cinema complex.

We sat in the food court with some coffee to wait for the movies to start. I must say that it's been a while since I've been to the cinema. Also, since the beginning of COVID we really eat out very rarely. We just like our high quality home-made food better.

So, I'm sitting in this crowded noisy food court and as I watch the people and what the kids and parents had bought to eat ... well… I started feeling kind of hopeless. There was very little fresh produce being sold and even less on people's plates. There certainly was a lot of candy, pizza and fast-food chain stores. There was not one table where people were eating Real Food. Well, maybe one guy, who looked like he was homeless, who was eating falafel which maybe you could call semi – real.

It made me think about the talk I gave to the medical staff of the diabetes and obesity clinic in Rambam hospital a few days before that. We discussed the similarity of the situation now with hyper-processed foods and the food industry talking about personal responsibility, to cigarette smoking and the tobacco industry's strategy in the 40's and 50's when it started becoming clear that smoking causes cancer.

I think that as the situation stands now, it is unfair to expect the general public to act responsibly and eat healthy. How can we expect that from average people when they go to a shopping center and every second store is a place that sells hyper-processed junk? How can we educate our children to eat Real Food if all that's available to them when they go to a movie is food that makes them diabetic and obese?

The food industry will not police itself. We must make them accountable and responsible to be part of the change of our food environment for it to make a difference. They will not do this from the goodness of their hearts. They will do it if we, the public, you and me, demand it of them. Taxing sweet drinks to make them more expensive is a good start, but we must make healthy foods more available and cheaper. That is what can perhaps give our children hope for a better, healthier future. Let's be the change.