Last week I was lucky enough to go to London, England for the first time. Experiencing a decent amount of culture shock, I was able to observe the London food market. In my opinion here are some differences that America should take note of for an overall health centered landscape.
Street Markets: I was surprised by the amount of street markets in London. America does have street markets but they are few and far between. The street markets in London are everywhere! There is one on nearly every three streets! They vary by what they sell, size, prices, items, and quality. It feels empowering to be able to scrutinize your tomato before you decide to buy. If you don’t like the selection at one stall, go to another! They have street stalls dedicated to conventional farming and organic farming! Whatever you want, you can find. I was astounded by the amount of choices which were available. The proprietors are extremely knowledgeable about where the food comes from. If you have any questions ask away, you certainly won’t find a blank look!
Cheap Fruits and Vegetables: London has some of the cheapest prices for vegetables and fruits I have ever seen. This is true even when currency conversion is taken into account. It’s a strange feeling to get back home and realize the extremely high prices American citizens are forced to pay for healthy food. The healthy items are the cheapest: in direct contrast to America, England rewards people who eat healthy by making it easy to eat healthy. A package of grapes cost one pound while a liter of bottled soda cost three pounds. People in London consider the ability to afford their food an important issue. London’s citizens, just like America’s, need to be able to easily afford healthy dinners. I mainly drank juices because soda was so darn expensive!
Small Portion Sizes: I have a love/hate relationship with the small portion sizes I experienced in London. While I can realize it’s important to cut portions for a healthier eating, there is nothing like the disturbing feeling you get when you are served with a glass a quarter of the size you are used to drinking out of.
Great Water Quality: In London the only drink you can get free refills on is tap water. That being said, the water is of fantastic quality. It tasted fresh compared to our constantly changing water quality. The quality seems pretty stable in London.
No GMOs: England is a member of the European Network of GMO Free Regions. When I was in London I did not have to worry that I was unintentionally eating poison once. Nice! Less sugar is used; and yet, dessert is a major part of the London cultural experience. I love dessert! What I found out after a few days in London was that sugar isn’t the main highlight of dessert. The sugar is there but not as much therefore less sweetness in the dessert. They focus much more on trying to highlight the natural flavors in the dish. This goes farther than desserts. Much of what you buy in the supermarkets will contain less sugar than their American counterpart. Different Ingredients: If you pay attention to the labels you will find that food in England doesn’t contain near the amount of chemicals that American food contains. You will have the same food that you have in America but it will taste much better!
It was different to see a country which put the health of its people as priority. When you think about it you find that most of the things we have been told about the need to have GMOs and chemicals in our food isn’t true at all. England has proven that you can have better quality food items with fewer or no chemicals. America could take a few notes from England on widespread healthy living.