Banning snacking on trains is not the plan you think it is
A new report commissioned by health secretary Matt Hancock in service of his government’s pledge to “halve childhood obesity by 2030” details 48 recommendations from outgoing U.K. chief medical officer, professor Dame Sally Davies. The report, at large, details a paternalistic approach to food and diet: individual products — and not their consumption — are classed as healthy or unhealthy, good or bad, in a sort of calorie vacuum divorced from real world circumstances; real world circumstances themselves are deemed either good or bad. The most striking of these is a proposed blanket ban on eating on public transport, underpinned by the idea that eating on trains and buses is somehow more damaging than on pavements or in private cars, regardless of what is being consumed. Practically, some train journeys are extremely long! No food for thirteen hours?Such a ban makes implicit, class-based assumptions about who is eating on public transport and what they are eating: rejecting holistic education in favour of “knowing what is best,” bespeaking a structural inability to do genuine, trust-based, educational work that is an — unwitting — hallmark of government policy around food’s intersection with society.
There are further concerning inflections to banning eating on public transport: it’s no coincidence that a male photographer chose “Women Eating on Tubes” as a target for low-key misogyny; it dismisses the impact of time poverty on people’s diets from a position of privilege; it would also be absolutely laughable to enforce: imagine telling a national food critic to put away his plush Scotch eggs on the grounds of health. Much, much, more pressingly, imagine telling a family that they can’t eat dinner at the only time they might have available, and telling them it’s for the good of their health. [GOV.UK]
I don't want to make light of well-meaning health initiatives but WHAT THE HELL ARE A BUNCH OF FOOD-FOCUSSED BBC RADIO 4 BROADCASTERS TO DO FOR THEIR TEA IF THEY BAN EATING ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT? Save the Kitchen Cabinet #trainpicinic https://t.co/RpD5h9rCQf— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) October 10, 2019
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You, an idiot: Colleen v Rebekah— Tom Victor (@tomvictor) October 9, 2019
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