Cheap food isn’t as cheap as it would appear, as Felicity Lawrence writes in “Free choice isn’t healthy for the food industry’s menu” in The Guardian recently. Further, the real cost of cheap food in terms of human morbidity and mortality as well as the significant impact on animal welfare and the environment are not born by the food industry but society at large. That’s you and me. She writes,
[T]he National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has concluded that the government could save 40,000 lives and many millions of pounds each year by tackling our junk food industry. […] Treasury estimates calculated that, conservatively, the cost to the health service of diet-related disease was not just millions but £6bn annually, and rising.
She goes on to then frame this within the current context of Britain’s political climate.
… the state could make huge savings if it prevented the cancers, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and obesity caused by poor diet rather than waiting to treat them, just as health experts did with tobacco. But its recommendations have already been overtaken by events. New brooms at the Department of Health have thanked Nice for its pains by suggesting it has overreached itself, and by reverting to the tired old mantra that eating healthily is a matter of individual responsibility and choice.
So much for we’re all in this together! Too right! Deep doo-doo.