Favouring fruit

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Gordon Kennedy (Letters, 14 July) suggests that increasing the price of sugar will not dent consumption. If he goes along to the exhibition in the National Library, Lifting the lid: 400 years of food and drink in Scotland, he will be told by the curator that sugar, sweet puddings and cakes only became widely consumed in Scotland when the price of sugar fell in the 19th century. Until then sugar was the preserve of the rich. Why will the laws of price and demand not work today?

Mr Kennedy also suggests that the poor cannot afford fruit and vegetables as they are too expensive. But that rather depends on what you are trying to achieve. A quick sugar hit at 50p for 330ml will give you about 150 kcalories whereas potatoes at about 70p a kilo will give you about 700 kcals and carrots at 60p a kilo about a third of that. Potatoes need to be cooked which adds to the cost but also gives an opportunity to enhance flavour with additional ingredients. If life is about satisfaction and pleasure then cooking and eating becomes part of life’s rewards.

Fruit and vegetables perform a further useful function which a fizzy drink will not: they provide roughage which helps clear the body of waste products and thereby maintains health.

It would appear Mr Kennedy and sadly many others do not take this into account when making purchases of food and drink. So how is the problem of asymmetric information in the market place to be rectified? The answer is of course, education. But where to start – nutrition in the curriculum from primary school onward, as part of a doctors’ basic training, cookery as a compulsory Standard Grade? The possibilities are endless!

Benedict Bate

South Clerk Street

Edinburgh