So, we've all been following Jamie Oliver's campaign for a sugar tax on sugary drinks for a while.
A new article in the Evening Standard written by Rosamund Urwin on 22 October outlined, very rightly, how the nation is addicted to sugar. In "A tax alone won't curb the nation's sugar addiction" Urwin highlights how the sheer amount of promotions on sweets and chocolate makes anyone tempted to overload. She's right, it's a lot cheaper to eat Maltesers for breakfast than fruit salad and nourishing yourself on Drumsticks and Double Lollies has never been so easy. For a kid who gets a fiver pocket money a week and does maths at school knows that a bag of Flakes a day can get you through the week Monday- Friday until your parents give you some more nutritional snacks on the weekend. (Or not.)
Now, on returning to the capital after a long time abroad in France and in Italy, I must admit that this is one of the first things I noticed as I walked into the supermarket: milk chocolate and sweets everywhere. Sorry Britain but, what the * is going on here? Why is there such an abundance?
Vs the "healthy food" on lower, less visible aisle:
Being away, I saw how the Italians and the French are very much into their "sugar." The French have pain au chocolat for breakfast, dessert is always on the lunch menu and there is a boulangerie selling artisanal pastries on every corner where kids rush to for l'heure du gouter (tea time.) Italians start the day with a sweet espresso with biscuits and satisfy their cravings with a gelato.
As a pastry chef, I find that these extreme promotions and advertising on sweets and chocolate is very unfair. Not only is it undervaluing sugary food, but as a result artisanal products have to be lowered in price in order to attract consumers. It's a shame to think that bakers and passionate professionals are forced to undervalue their products for the profit of these huge industries. In addition, journalists and nutritionists are attacking the consumption of sugar and unavoidably, artisans are getting stick for people eating too many sweet foods as well.
What about plastic? Finally, in the UK we now pay for plastic bags which is a brilliant initiative to start thinking about ways to reduce the amount of plastic that is thrown away and help the planet a little. It's is a bit of a smack in the face when you open up a bag of sweets which are individually wrapped in plastic after you've paid a penny to put the bag in.
As well as a sugar tax to financially help the NHS, Jamie believes that the amount of teaspoons of sugar should be displayed on bottles, a way of controlling the amount of sugar we drink. And perhaps if there were fewer promotions on kinder buenos and digestive biscuits people would start developing a palate for less sugary and more refined chocolate? We'd all be thinner and have less of a complex, the amount of plastic that pollutes the earth would be reduced and it would also open up a small path for those artisans who are just trying to make the world a sweeter place.