#178 Prescribing Fruit & Vegetables with Jonathan Pauling

Jonathan Pauling is chief executive of the Alexandra rose charity, whose vision is for everyone to have access to healthy and affordable food and whose mission is to give families access to fresh fruit & vegetables in their communities.

I hadn’t come across the charity before, but our values are so aligned! It was founded in 1912 by Queen Alexandra and established to support Londoners in poverty. Inspired by a priest in her native Denmark selling roses to raise money for those in need, Queen Alexandra brought the idea back to the UK.

In a landmark study that started a few months ago, they are trialling rose vouchers that are exchangeable for healthy fruit and vegetables from street market vendors in deprived areas. This latest trial is on the back of years of work across other areas in the UK and pilots where they’re also involved in cooking workshops and healthy start vouchers for families with young children. Something that Johnathan mentions on the podcast today really hit home to me. He said we can’t just tackle financial inequality, we have to tackle health inequality.

And from previous schemes they’ve already demonstrated that simply increasing fruit and vegetable consumption can lead to improvements in energy, digestive health and reduced the reliance on processed foods. That isn’t to say this is a cure-all for poverty, but it’s definitely something we should be looking at to “level up”.

I’ve wished for the ability to prescribe healthy food and this study could pave the way for that reality.

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