New Zealand needs its vegetables

08 Nov 2017

Media

Last week, Horticulture New Zealand released a report on New Zealand’s domestic vegetable production, New Zealand domestic vegetable production: the growing story. One part of the report covers human health, with some of the health statistics simply frightening:

- One-third of New Zealand adults are obese

- A further 35% are overweight

- One in nine New Zealand children are obese

- A further 21% are overweight

- Globally, 1.7 million (2.8%) of deaths are attributed to low fruit and vegetable consumption

- 31% of those deaths attributed to obesity

It should be no surprise to anyone that the World Health Organisation has identified vegetables as a key ingredient for a nutritious diet, lessening chronic disease in Western societies. The problem facing New Zealand is that one in five New Zealanders do not buy fresh fruit and vegetables each week. 

Last year, there were media reports of scurvy in both Australia and England. This illustrates the concern that globally, we are not eating enough vegetables and fruit each day.  It is also becoming more common for restaurants not to serve vegetables with their meals and, in some cases, not to offer any vegetables apart from potatoes. 

In New Zealand, the cost of unhealthy eating is paid for by the taxpayer-funded health system. Add to this the risk that in the future, due to houses being planted on prime vegetable growing land, New Zealand will not be able to supply seasonal vegetables year round to provide the country with fresh, healthy and locally grown produce. With shortages, or no supply, prices will go up and access to healthy food will be restricted and supplemented by imported produce where it is available. The report, available here, covers this in detail.

It is time to act.  We all need to campaign for healthy eating and ensuring that New Zealand can supply itself with seasonal vegetables year-round.

- Mike Chapman, CEO