Effects of junk food

The Good Life Letter

Sunday 9th January 2011

  • The effects of junk food and why it's costing our wealth AND our health
  • How to avoid being LIED to when you shop
  • Good Life Letter readers are as sharp as a lemon

As you know, I'm no fan of the large supermarkets.

I detest their manipulation of our diet, the way that they can control food markets and the devastating impact they have had on the nation's health.

I truly believe that our politicians should begin to scrutinise the whole industry as part of a programme of health reforms, rather than messing about with taxing alcohol.

My beliefs were strengthened when I watched the BBC Panorama programme before Christmas called 'What Price Cheap Food?' - what I also found out was how these huge commercial operations are DESTROYING our rural heritage.

You might think that I've overstepped the mark a little with such a strong statement - but that's where you would be wrong.

The really sad part is that you and I are just as responsible as they are.

We want cheap milk, we prefer our low cost vegetables to be uniformly sized and we wouldn't touch a chicken that costs more than a fiver - would we?

That's what drives the supermarkets policies and beliefs; Oh and their need to make obscene profits by pressuring the suppliers... our farmers and growers.

The big four retailers are cynical men in suits with a balance sheet to care for, rather than individual custodians of the countryside who consider the health and welfare of their charges.

And they have KILLED already!

Let me explain.

When I was a kid we had milk delivered to our door every day by the local milkman. This milk had been collected from local farms the previous day by tankers, pasteurised and chilled overnight, bottled and delivered the next day.

This had a cost, naturally, but ensured that the milk was fresh and local. It also allowed an equal share of profits between the producer, the processor and the retailer and kept them all in business.

Now there are very few doorstep delivery services because they were chased from the market by aggressive actions by the supermarkets.

In the late 1980's the retailers started to undercut the price from the traditional supply routes by up to 50%, by the 1990's they had taken control of over 70% of the market.

The local milkman had died - we had our finger on the trigger, and the supermarkets held the smoking gun.
Guess what though? The supermarkets then started to raise the price of milk and force the suppliers to accept a lower deal. This massively skewed the profit in their favour and benefits the consumer not one jot.

Your milk can now be upto 4 days old, have travelled halfway around the country and be the produce of several European countries. Don't you miss the cheery whistling of Milko in the morning even more now?

What can we do to protect our food supply?

Ray's five point plan

It's simple really, and I think we should all follow the five basic points below;

1) Shop local. Within reason most of us will have access to a local shop that will provide a range of produce. Local vegetables, local meat and local bread are just some of the staples that can be found on the High Street. Be prepared to pay slightly more, but let's be honest an extra 10p for a loaf of bread isn't going to plunge us into poverty is it?  Paying a bit more makes me think twice about what I throw away.

2) Oppose supermarket developments. There is a big land grab being played out currently by the big four players, and they are offering your local councils incentives (bribes anyone?) through proposing to fund local projects, build schools and leisure centres and provide jobs. Stay alert to the planning proposals and write in to object.

3) Stay aware. Keep up to date with local and national information about seasonal produce and try to use what's in season rather than trying to find strawberries in November.

4) Read food labels very carefully. Just because it says it was produced in the UK doesn't mean that it has solely UK raw materials in it. Be prepared to challenge the customer services desk staff to provide proof of origin of all the components of the product.

5) Grow your own. You don't need to be Percy Thrower, or own half of Lincolnshire - just put a few broad beans in the flower beds, or a cabbage plant into a tub and enjoy the taste of real food again.

Needless to say that if you still have a local milkman give them a call and place your order - let's start the fight back and take control again.

I am determined that 2011 will be the year that I challenge my reliance on supermarkets.  For too long I have felt that something was amiss, now I am going to do something about it.  Where I can be sure that they are ethical in their purchasing, considerate in their logistics and committed to quality I will use them - but not if I can find a locally available alternative.

Lemons are Ray's best friend

I've received lots of e-mails about my letter on Friday concerning Argan oil and how it can help weight loss, as well as improve your health in so many other ways.

Virtually all of them comment that I have neglected the power of lemon juice in the annual fight to combat the effects of the festive period. This is not the case, and you will know that my Lemon Book has a lot of information about how this citrus fruit can radically change your waist size.

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