Local law matters promoting healthy eating

Many of the objectives for healthy people and places can be achieved through measures other than local laws. However, local laws are still used by some councils to regulate food provision. This section provides local government with items to consider for local laws to promote healthy eating. It is recommended that council review existing local laws to ensure they have not unintentionally been preventing the provision of healthy food in their community.

Food licensing

Council can influence the accessibility of fast food through the food licensing program.  Consider the following options to encourage healthy food choices to be provided by street vendors, restaurants, cafés and take away venues.

  1. Provide incentives for healthy eating options (such as salad and sandwich foods) through:
  • cheaper annual licensing fees
  • access to greater outdoor dining area
  • promotion and support of the business by council (such as through inclusion in a ‘healthy eating guide’ and use of those businesses for catering of events and functions).

For a good example of how these types of incentives can be introduced by local government, see the Green Light Eat Right program from Melbourne City Council (http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au).

  1. Provide disincentives for vendors of fast foods (such as fried foods) through:
  • limiting signage and outdoor dining area
  • prohibiting stand-alone signage include A-frame signs
  • higher annual licensing fees.

Roadside stalls

Roadside stalls are sometimes seen as competing with shops and businesses that pay rent. However, they can also be seen as supporting existing food growers, strengthening the sale of local produce and increasing access to healthy foods for locals and visitors.

Roadside stalls provide the opportunity for people to access fresh food from the local region, directly from farmers. The stalls traditionally focus on fresh produce, but with the policy support of council, could be expanded to include herbs, honey, breads, eggs, preserves and other value-added products.

  • Roadside stalls are often restricted in size, such as to an area not much bigger than a trailer or back of a truck. Allowing larger stalls, such as 25mto 100m2can also enable farmers to staff the stall, similar to a shop. This:
  • promotes farming viability
  • allows for value-adding to produce (such as home made mango gelato and dried mango)
  • allows farmers to meet the people who eat their food and gain direct feedback
  • allows consumers to meet the people who grow the food they eat and to find out more about it. This connection gives deeper meaning and satisfaction to the farmer and consumer.

Taste of the Great Green Way – Food Trail

The Innisfail food trail is a simple way to promote locally grown produce to locals and visitors. The trail has easy access from the Bruce Highway, and is promoted on the internet and in tourist information centres.

Stalls sell locally grown tropical fruits and vegetables, home made ice-cream, banana smoothies, preserves and other packaged products. The Nucifora Tea Plantation also allows people the opportunity to tour the site and enjoy their product.

After Cyclone Larry hit the area in March 2006, much of the local crops were damaged or destroyed. Road side stalls were one way farmers could sell small amounts of undamaged produce and value add to the products, such as selling dried foods.