Mind the gap!

On a recent trip to Germany I had two conversations that highlighted a deplorable level of ignorance regarding nutritional health even amongst highly educated people in developed countries. 

The first was with an oncologist, who admitted she knew virtually nothing about nutrition, except that it was important to eat healthily (whatever that meant). She was however keen to learn at least the basics to be able to pass onto her patients. Like most people I've met (including senior supermarket executives) she used extra virgin olive oil for high temperature cooking such as frying, thinking it was healthy. After I explained why that was not such a good idea due to the low smoke point and potentially carcinogenic by products that are formed, she spent the next half an hour asking me more questions and made me promise to send her a list of useful nutrition and food preparation tips. 

The next day another friend who works at a senior level in one of the German government ministries told me how appalled she was when she found out that the food being served to her child at the (office-sponsored) creche consisted mainly of chips, fizzy drinks, ice-cream and sweets. When she tried to enlist the support of her (presumably similarly highly educated) female colleagues who also had kids at the creche, they couldn't understand what the problem was, as this diet was similar to what they gave them at home. 

If someone who has trained as a doctor and specialises in treating cancer patients knows almost nothing useful about the impact different foods have on the body and has to resort to getting tips from relative layperson, and highly educated civil servants don't see anything wrong with giving their children junk food, isn't it a sign that there is a huge market waiting to be filled? What an opportunity for supermarkets to change from selling food as a commodity to providing a hugely value-added service at the point of sale, by teaching their staff the basics of how to better choose, use and preserve food. Thereby turning millions of tedious jobs into a stimulating, engaging and empowering career while at the same time earning the lifetime loyalty of their newly stimulated, engaged and empowered customers. 


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