Farmdrop founder Ben Pugh is a proud signatory of a petition to introduce a tax on sugary drinks. He explains why…
Whilst Jamie Oliver’s documentary last night made for heavy viewing, it squarely reminds me why I started Farmdrop in the first place. He’s bang on the money. Taxing sugary fizzy drinks is a great idea, firstly because it will work and secondly because we’ll all feel a lot better when it does.
The smoking comparison works. Tax on cigarettes has risen around five times since 1990 and over a similar period smoking rates in the UK have halved. Throw in some public awareness campaigns and you’ve got a potent combination that will work just as well with sugar. Public Health England I believe, and hope, will be turning their sights on this over several decades to come.
Secondly, fizzy drinks really are bad news. I found the film Fed Up (2014) good for getting a handle on the science and when my toddler lunges for the sugary stuff here’s the story I tell; Freddy Fructose can only be broken down by the Lucy Liver. However, when ingested in concentrated boat-loads, (as it is with fizzy drinks, “low fat” sauces, sugary breakfast cereals etc), poor Lucy Liver can’t cope so St Pancreas is called to the rescue. Every time we drink a can of coke, the valiant St Pancreas fights the excess fructose, creating insulin to convert it to fat. But no one can fight on forever, and with enough battery from Freddy Fructose, St Pancreas eventually falls and diabetes ensues. The vast majority of products sold on Farmdrop contain a single ingredient and seldom more than 3 or 4. This means there are very few hiding places for Freddy Fructose.
The petition is already over halfway to reaching 100,000 signatures, after which the issue must be considered for debate in parliament – so join in here to help get the ball rolling. The NHS is already spending loads more on diet related health issues vs. smoking related issues, and The British Medical Journal was the first publication ever to identify smoking causing illness (in 1950), so there’s precedent on this island for driving big and positive change. Let’s hope Britain becomes the first place where a bottle of coke costs the same as a packet of cigarettes – and that Farmdrop can continue to help by making healthy local food more affordable and accessible.