We read this with great interest: Boris Johnson could offer healthy eating ‘rewards’ after furious Tory backlash to tax plan. Basically, it’s an app that tracks your supermarket spending and offers you ‘rewards’ for spending more on fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and low calorie meals. However, it’s not just one of your usual health apps – this is one promoted by the government to get people to change their behaviour. There’s a bit to unpack with this one…
What could possibly be wrong with encouraging healthy eating you ask? Look, we’re all for people having the chance to eat healthy food. The debate is around whether that’s just another consumer choice or taking action that actually starts to address a lot of what’s wrong about the complex, ‘just in time’ and ultimately unsustainable food supply chain we’re obliged to rely upon.
With this proposed app, if you buy enough of what’s deemed to be healthy, you’ll get a ‘reward’. A ‘reward’ for being a good consumer. A ‘reward’ for consuming the products of a problematic food supply chain. If you take a critical look at this proposal, it does seem like an incremental step in getting people used to the idea of a system of social credits. In China with their social credit system, this kind of future is already here, as detailed in this piece from Wired: The complicated truth about China’s social credit system – Nicole Kobie | Wired | June 7, 2019. Social credits and their opposite, social de-merits, are about behaviour modification and ultimately, controlling the populace. Do you really want to go there?
This is one of many posts we’ve put up on this blog encouraging the creation of community vegetable gardens so people can have a source of healthy food they control: Building community resilience – securing the food supply. Growing your own food, individually or preferably collectively, is not just about creating a more sustainable alternative to an increasingly fragile food supply chain – it’s also about bringing a community together in a shared activity and building the solidarity we need in these troubled times.
What’s better, being a model consumer who buys the right kind of foods in return for a ‘reward’ or getting together with your neighbours to start growing your own food? Growing your own obviously because it gives people a genuine degree of control. The thing is, growing your own vegetables and fruit, individually or communally, isn’t something that can be tracked, monitored and rewarded by the government. It’s something that’s right out of their control – they don’t like that one bit! Which is precisely why we love the idea of community food growing because it gives us control:)