Stephen Jardine: Time to disqualify junk food giants
IF YOU are quaking at the thought of cooking for a few friends this weekend, spare a thought for the Olympic caterers.
Over the next few weeks they will serve 14 million meals at 40 Olympic locations throughout the country.
Delivery is being driven by the London Olympic Food Vision. Drawn up in 2009, this 40-page document commits the Games to being “a celebration of the diversity and quality of British food” with great importance given to sourcing and quality.
So it should be. The Olympic Games represent the very pinnacle of human physical achievement. They are a showcase for what the body can achieve with the correct training and the best diet. Why on earth, then, have we sold them out to McDonalds, Coca Cola and Cadburys ?
It’s like London Fashion Week being sponsored by Kappa shell suits. No-one would take that seriously, so why are these three brands seen as being appropriate partners for the Olympic Games ?.
The answer is sponsorship cash. They had the deepest pockets so we end up with the Coke as a partner, Cadbury as treat provider and McDonalds running the biggest fast food restaurant in the world.
All three have been careful to dress up their involvement with lots of corporate “social responsibility” talk about engaging with sport, but in reality the message is different.
Instead of encouraging participation, what it really says is, sit back, switch on the telly and help yourself to a Big Mac, washed down with a Coke and followed by a big Fruit and Nut Bar for dessert.
Apologists say the Olympics are only deliverable at this level thanks to this sponsorship. Fine, then let’s scale back.
Imagine if London had been the first Olympics to say “no” to the junk food giants ? What a fantastic message that would send out to sports-minded youngsters and the rest of us.
Instead the agreements that are in place with the junk food sponsors run until 2020 so will dominate another two Olympic Games. These decisions are taken by the Geneva-based IOC and from them we shouldn’t have expected anything better. Like FIFA, they live in a parallel universe.
But after the Olympics are over, the sporting spotlight switches to Scotland and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
We have some of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the developed world with one in five children overweight.
For their sake, we can’t allow the Commonwealth Games to become another showcase for junk food.
Instead, we all need to do what we can to make sure Glasgow 2014 becomes a showcase for Scottish food and drink, and an advert for what we can achieve when we eat well and look after our bodies.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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