Last week I was listening to one of my favourite food podcasts, Good Food and they had an interesting guest on. Dr Thomas Robinson and his team research ways to ensure people eat healthily and stay within a healthy weight range. They compared undergraduate students taking a course in Food and Society to students taking other courses in health psychology, obesity and community health. They tracked the students’ eating habits and found that the Food and Society students were eating more vegetables and fewer high-fat dairy products, high-fat meats and sweets by the end of the course than they were at the beginning. The comparison students in the other health courses reported no improvement in dietary habits and were eating fewer servings of vegetables at the end.
So what’s the Food and Society secret to success? There was no studying specifics of a healthy diet e.g. no direct descriptions of how to eat a low-fat diet or what fruit and veg you should eat. Instead, the students studied books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. They weren’t just studying food as a health product but rather as a way of helping the planet and as a cultural experience they could all be part of.