‘Good’ food op­tions

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

The find­ings of Re­gional Pub­lic Health di­eti­cian Vicki Robin­son’s sur­vey of Porirua con­ve­nience stores makes for in­ter­est­ing if not en­tirely sur­pris­ing read­ing.

Own­ers of dairies and small food mar­kets aren’t stock­ing healthy food op­tions be­cause shop­pers aren’t buy­ing. Cus­tomers aren’t buy­ing them be­cause the less healthy op­tions are cheaper.

For a lot of us, these shops have more to do with temp­ta­tion than good eat­ing in­ten­tions any­way; soft drink, snacks, lol­lies, choco­late, or maybe a pack of smokes. Heck, visit some dairies and you’ll strug­gle to find any­thing that doesn’t fit one of these ‘‘food’’ groups.

The prob­lem in our eastern sub­urbs is it’s all they’ve got: There is no su­per­mar­ket pro­vid­ing va­ri­ety and more af­ford­able or, at least, less un­af­ford­able prices.

For res­i­dents with a ve­hi­cle, a five-minute jour­ney to one of the cen­tral city su­per­mar­kets, or the Satur­day morn­ing Cob­ham Court mar­kets, is hardly an im­ped­i­ment. But for those re­ly­ing on pub­lic trans­port or a taxi, lo­ca­tion be­comes a bar­rier to health­ier food op­tions. Do I walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, ride it to the su­per­mar­ket, and back again, for trim milk and grain? Or do I walk to the cor­ner store and buy blue top and white bread (which I pre­fer the taste of any­way)?

There will also be those with­out the means to bud­get trans­porta­tion into their food spend­ing.

With Food­stuffs and Pro­gres­sive un­likely to set up shop in the eastern sub­urbs, Ms Robin­son is call­ing for gov­ern­ment and food in­dus­try ini­tia­tives – poli­cies to make healthy food more af­ford­able and limit food mar­ket­ing at chil­dren. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on ei­ther. The present gov­ern­ment couldn’t even get luke­warm about GST-free fruit and veges, while the 10-year-and-count­ing odyssey to nail down a stan­dard for health claims on food pack­ag­ing would sug­gest lit­tle faith should be put in self-reg­u­la­tion.

If there is to be im­prove­ment, it will prob­a­bly come from lo­cal in­cen­tives, such as the community gar­dens, or the stag­ing of a reg­u­lar fruit and vege mar­ket. Wai­tan­girua Mall would be per­fect for it.

Matthew Dal­las, Ed­i­tor.

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