Fruit and Vegetables consumption – Social foodscapes makes a difference

A large number of studies over the past decade have proved that environment plays an important role in raising intake of fruit and vegetables (F&V). Availability in particular has been shown to be an important determinant in many studies. A growing number of studies are now beginning to look beyond availability – to look at the issues and the causes behind availability. Here social norms, values and attitudes play an important role and many years of campaigning and awareness raising in the area of five a day seems to show its first results.

The important message seems to be: Social environment matters. Peers, family and other intermediaries all play an important role in staging what researchers are beginning to refer to as foodscapes. This is not only in creating physical foodscapes in which F&V are available in the settings where we live, work and study, but also in creating the mental and social foodscapes that recognizes F&V intake as a part of a balanced lifestyle.

The research presented in this issue stems from family environments but has important implications also for public food environments such as schools and kindergartens. It underlines the fact that school fruit programs are not only about making the supply chain work. Without social normsetting and creation of a school ethos that favours increased fruit intake, the full health promoting potential of school fruit schemes is not going to be realized. Fortunately the EU scheme offers the idea of accompanying measures – a broad category of activities that holds the potential to create learning and social environment that favours increased uptake of F&V. These environments include measures such as cooking and taste education, farm to school links, urban gardening, edible school yards and school gardens. Hopefully the new research interest in foodscape studies and behavioral nutrition will start looking into the potential positive effects of such measures.

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