05 May 2020

We need our pie now more than ever

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Ainslie Ballinger / anslie@nwkcom.co.nz

On one of my evening walks last week, I listened to an episode of The Food Talks, a podcast from UK singer and foodie Jessie Ware and her mum Lenny. In this episode they interviewed comedians Sue and Mel - best known for their time on the Great British Bake Off. Asked about what she had been cooking and eating in lock down, Sue said she had been making many Woolton Pies.

Developed in Britain in the Second World War through a time of rationing and food shortages, the Woolton pie was a recipe to help use up vegetables, supporting nutrition.  The recipe was named after Lord Woolton, who popularised the dish, and who was the Minister of Food.

We do not have a Minister of Food in New Zealand, although there have been musings and mumblings over the years from various people and groups.

In my job, I am privy to the varying discussions and concerns from health and nutrition experts, food producers, manufacturers and retailers. And in recent weeks, these conversations have all concentrated on establishing some sense of what ‘the new normal’ will look like; and where opportunities to do things differently might lie.

Health groups and the food industry often don’t see eye to eye. Public health nutrition experts prioritise much of their efforts on reshaping our food environments - how and what we eat. Which of course, most of the time grates against the way the food system works, which has commerce at its centre, not health.

Despite these different drivers, all agree that our food production industry is vital to our economic prosperity and that New Zealand should provide affordable and accessible healthy food for its people.

So maybe this is the place to start. Perhaps it is a Minister of Food, and a New Zealand version of a Woolton pie – a symbol of both resourcefulness and healthfulness in difficult times, that is needed to bring everyone together.