‘Good’ food options
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.