Old Man Shouts At Cloud #2 – Teaching financial literacy? How about health literacy?

August 29, 2023
2 mins read

In this Old Man Shouts At Cloud column, GARETH NEWMAN has an alternative to the Government’s plans to teach financial literacy in schools.

I liked the sound of the Government’s plan, announced last week, to teach financial literacy in schools. My only issue with it is that it didn’t happen decades ago. Why were schools wasting time teaching languages that students would never use in real life? Generations of New Zealanders could be a whole lot more knowledgeable about how money works, and hopefully, be leading more comfortable lives as a result.

But the news about teaching financial literacy even to primary school students got me thinking. What about HEALTH LITERACY?


Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Riveting writing on music, tech, hi-fi, music, film, TV and other cool stuff. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.


I’ve seen my kids go through school learning absolutely nothing about the value of food, the nutritional value of various food groups, how to prepare food, or where the hell it all comes from.

From kindergarten on they had hotdogs and sausage rolls rammed down their throats (metaphorically speaking). By the time they hit primary school the PPTA was out there fundraising at playtime with sausage sizzles. The free lunches often included meats that no enlightened government would recommend because of its carcinogenic properties. And the food provided by the majority of parents was mostly just junk.

I guess it’s hard to teach health literacy when the teachers themselves have such limited awareness of nutrition and what a growing body requires to be healthy. Almost all the health emphasis is on sports when it’s known that food intake is much more defining in overall health stats than exercise.

In some countries kids are taught about all the common foods from an early age. In Japan, they even have lavish full-colour books explaining what’s good and bad about every single vegetable, fish or meat product. By the time a student leaves school there, they’re very aware of their body’s nutritional requirements and what it needs to remain healthy. No wonder Japanese lifespans are much higher than our own. In New Zealand, the awareness on this topic is virtually nil. This, at a time when we’re facing an unprecedented fat epidemic (and yes, I know you’re not allowed to say fat anymore, but go fuck yourself. Fat, fat, fat!).

If an elected government was willing to implement comprehensive nutritional education in our schools, chances are this would transform society and health outcomes in a way that financial literacy never could. If an elected government then made the complementary decision to spiral the price of sugary soft drinks and similar products and bring down the price of healthier options, it would be a win-win situation for everyone.

Is any of this likely to happen in a country obsessed with fatty, carcinogen-laced meat and its associated industries? Not likely. Despite the immense threat the poor diets we learn from childhood pose in terms of chronic disease, and the equally immense cost to our overloaded health system.



  1. Some schools do teach food literacy, known as Food and Nutrition e.g. St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.

  2. Hey Jeff, that’s good to know. I’ll pass that on to Gareth. I wonder though, what guidelines the food/nutrition is based on, as the New Zealand ones are way behind the times. Also, I think Gareth was referring mostly to food and nutrition literacy being taught in primary schools, but I could be wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Give a little to support Witchdoctor's quest to save high quality independent journalism. It's easy and painless! Just donate $5 or $10 to our PressPatron account by clicking on the button below.

Witchdoctor straight to your inbox every 2nd week


Advance Paris - Designed with French flair. Amplifiers, Streamers, CD players and more www.pqimports.co.nz
Previous Story

Nespresso Vertuo Creatista: easy peasy froth master

Next Story

Stephanie Acraman & Liam Wooding – Life is a cabaret, old chum

Latest from Food & Drink

Crafty Corner: winter hops

ASHTON BROWN proves that hops put a spring in your step even in the depths of winter by supping on crazy, hazy and even

Korero Te Reo

PHIL PARKER is all for embracing diversity, especially when it comes to wine varieties from all over the world.
Go toTop