|Authors||Clark, H., Royal, P., West, H., Kelly, T., Roper, H., Howells, K., Devalia, U., Mackay, E., Holt, A., Bradshaw, B., Driscoll, M., Williamson, D., Tricks, T., Newnham, P., Noonan-Gunning, S., Giordani, P., Lewis, K., Swann, J., Mist, P. and Bowyer, S.|
Our companion Report: ‘Emerging Dietary Patterns: Impact on Child Health’ discussed ways in which traditional dietary patterns in both the UK and internationally were changing.
In concluding we argued that:
‘The interconnected nature of food, climate and health is the biggest challenge we face, but therein also lies its strength and boundless potential should we act with the necessary urgency, creativity and commitment. It is at the local level – supported by national policy – that the largest returns from such pro-activity will accrue.’
‘The food that we eat here and now can change the world.’
‘If we are serious about protecting and restoring natural environments, safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our children today and restoring and protecting that of future generations, then there is only one solution.
We must change it.’
Then came Covid-19 and change was imposed – with the arrival and experience of a pandemic.
The full outcome of Covid-19; its effects and repercussions not just for the present generations but for the many that will succeed it cannot be estimated now.
In the 102 years since Spanish ‘flu devastated an older world order, we are still learning its lessons today. But what has become immediately apparent is that what we eat and how we eat has undergone a revolution in four short months.
‘Coronavirus pandemic will change the food industry and eating habits forever, says CEO of Food and Drink Federation, Ian Wright.’ (email@example.com 7 April 2020)
‘To prevent the next pandemic we must take on factory farming.’ (Jonathan Safran Foer and Aaron Gross, The Guardian, 21 April 2020.)
‘Covid-19 will definitely be an accelerator on the conscious consumer patterns that we see unfolding. As the consumer gets more conscious, we also see more interest in sustainable, locally produced food systems solutions.’ (David Brandes, Food Navigator, 17 April 2020.)
‘The virus is a warning that Britain’s food system must change,’ (‘The Guardian,’ 18th April 2020).
It would also be unjust to address the Covid-19 pandemic in isolation without highlighting its interactions with another global force to become manifest in the same era in response to an incident in the US; namely, the police killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Pandemics, poor health, systemic inequalities and a lack of environmental protections harm black, ethnic minority and disadvantaged communities in all countries more than any other groups, and the two events have shed a harsh light on those realities and their frightening interconnections – such as the higher death rate in BAME communities including healthcare workers on the frontline (Public Health England, June 2020, ‘Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups’): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/u...
Therefore, to address fall-out from the pandemic without considering these marginalised groups would be inappropriate; to address the environmental crisis without considering its impact on such groups would be pointless and the separation of civil rights from health and environmental policy is delusional. The silos in which policy-making still exists in these fields are stubborn obstacles to change.
Both within and without the UK’s boundaries, the diverse spectrum of peoples requires a similar diversity and inclusion in the systems that sustain life – and the production of the food that is eaten in order to live.
Sometimes change is immediate and imposed rather than incremental and the pandemic has seen an abrupt conclusion to familiar and traditional ways of living.
As we offer our thoughts about the many ways in which Covid-19 has changed our dietary patterns, we must remember that the ‘brave new world’ of our future ambition ‘has such people in it’, (‘The Tempest’, William Shakespeare).
Those who would construct better dietary patterns in the wake of this pandemic must ensure that people rather than systems prevail….