Monday, August 14, 2006

Shut up Sue Kedgley*

Ever since I've started this blog I've developed a secret suspision that journalists sometimes write articles specifically to piss me off. You may think that that's a ridiculous (and ridiculously arrogant) thing to say. But just look at what they had in the Dominion Post today:

Despite regular exposure to healthy messages at school, many children were getting mixed messages at home, a new study suggests.

Massey University PhD student Jacinta Hawkins[*] found that some parents needed to go back to school for school-based healthy eating programmes to work.

During studies of four low decile Auckland schools she found some teachers saw it as a challenge getting the healthy eating message across when children went home. Teachers felt educating parents was beyond the call of duty of schools.

"There are a lot of parents doing a really good job but there are others who the message isn't reaching," Ms Hawkins said.

"It is sad to think it's because they simply don't know any better."
My first issue with this sort of article is that it always acts as if the worst possible outcome from any diet is getting fat. It ignores the problems that are created by not getting enough of all the nutrients you need, and any increased risks associated with particular food products except getting larger.

But in this article I could barely get up any sort of anger about that, because the anti-poor people subtext was rapidly become text. You consistently see this argument in any discussion about food - that the only reason people living in poverty eat the way they do is because they're ignorant. It's not people in poverty's fault that nutritious food is often more expensive than food that is low in nutrients (it's the food manufacturers fault - and capitalism's).

So shut up with you 'messages' bullshit and provide free breakfast and lunch in schools.

* This is what Sue Kedgley had to say about the topic "It is true that many parents are simply unaware of the problems with what they are feeding their children." Well quite, if only they knew, like Sue Kedgley, where to get the best organic produce, and that sushi is so much healthier than fish and chips then all those low decide parents would be fine.

** The researcher in question isn't a scietist or an educator, but a marketing communications researcher - just the sort of people we want to run our education system, or possibly our social welfare program - it's not entirely clear what's being proposed.


  1. Anonymous10:36 am

    Maia - I have friends who work at the Dom Post & can confirn that it a right wing plot to piss you off. you blog is top of the list with the state security services - they are watching you.

  2. That's good to know - I've always been a little bit nervous of requesting my SIS file - what if there was nothing in it? I'd feel like I didn't exist.

    (this is my sarcastic voice, for the slow).

  3. Policy requires people to make some assumptions about what the citizens want.
    Sometimes the government will make assumptions based on the idea that people want to live longer and have less of certain types of health problem. Then make a call on what group is most at risk.
    Other times they may just work to deliver what we want directly e.g. to be skinny and tall and tanned skin or whatever.
    The problem is that if you make no calls at all then you end up ambivalent to everything.

  4. Maia, are you saying that good wholesome food is too expensive for people on tight budgets?

    If so, I disagree.

    Even on a limited budget one can still buy nutritious food. Vegetables don't need to be "organic" to provide value.

    Even good old cornflakes and rice bubbles is cheaper and healthier than slabs of toasted white bread with jam for brekkie, or the $5 per box sugar-fest cereals.

    Fresh fish from Pak n Save, grilled with a touch of butter and a side order of broccoli (cheap at the moment) is far more healthy than deep fried fish and chips, and about the same cost.

    I see some very poor food choices in the shopping trolleys ahead of me, and their grocery bill is pretty much similar to mine.

  5. Anonymous11:37 pm

    "the only reason people living in poverty eat the way they do is because they're ignorant". That is true, and it appears that ignorance is rather widespread. Eating healthy food costs less. Ignorance, lack of will, and laziness are the primary causes of poor eating - affects both the rich and the poor.

  6. Anonymous12:41 am

    People choosing to buy fast food is not a matter of economy. It is cheaper to buy healthier food at the supermarket (and yes, even food that can be prepared relatively quickly!)