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Introduction to Ethical Food & Drink

With lurid headlines about Britain’s ‘obesity epidemic’ filling the newspapers on an almost daily basis, it’s no surprise that eating well has become something of a national obsession. It is also the source of more contradictory information than almost any other area of public health. From fad diets to food labels, getting your meals right is a tricky business.

Alternative, ethical meals

As Jamie Oliver showed with his Jamie’s School Dinners series for Channel 4, it is vital that good habits are learned from a young age. Part of the extensive response to his programme has been a move towards a ban on ‘junk’ food (including the now infamous Turkey Twizzler) from schools.

Oliver has also re-ignited the debate over food advertising aimed at children. Criticisms of irresponsible marketing reached a head following Cadbury’s launch of a vouchers scheme to provide sports equipment for schools, which sparked complaints that it encouraged the counterproductive consumption of large quantities of chocolate.

The proliferation of largely unhealthy, processed food led the Food Standards Agency to develop a Traffic Light Colours food-labelling scheme ( The system, which has now been adopted by most UK supermarkets, involves indicating how much salt, fat and sugar is in a product using the familiar red, orange and green colours.

While these are steps in the right direction, there is more to a good diet than what’s on the label. The ethical food and drink section of The Good Shopping Guide contains details of the companies whose foods meet the highest ethical standards. These include products that are fair trade, organic and GM-free, and do not involve the use of factory-farming methods. It also looks at the environmental records of each company, and whether their products are produced and packaged in a sustainable manner. In the final part of the chapter, we reveal which supermarkets are the most progressive and responsible – and you can find out how far your Sunday lunch travelled before it reached your dinner table.

Key Research

Below you will find links to the key sections of our ethical research in Food & Drink:

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