Government food guidelines

The Good Life Letter 

16th January  2011

  • Can there ever be a wrong time to get health advice? Clearly there is!
  • Government food guidelines are they not stating the obvious?
  • True love is carrot shaped... or at least carrot coloured.

Lara was less than amused as I spat my muesli and honey all over the breakfast table as a result of the latest hair brained scheme according to the government food guidelines.

The children looked across the room wondering why Dad was going purple, and even the dog slunk away and hid in the hallway.

My fuse had been well and truly lit!

I have been ranting away about food retailing and the lack of clarity in managing public health for a few weeks now, but this new initiative took my breath away. Stick with me as I explain.

Several of the days' papers carried a story about how healthy eating was going to be promoted in stores.

Apparently, there are a bunch of witless fools calling themselves the Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) hidden in some dark corner of Westminster. I was amused to discover that the English dictionary describes a 'bit' as being:

"a small piece or quantity of anything; an act, performance, or routine; a very small role, as in a play (bit part)"

Remember this definition as you read on.

Led by a Cabinet Office Minister, this bunch of Herberts have hit upon the idea of placing messages at supermarket check-outs telling us to eat our 5-a-day.


Surely I'm not alone in seeing the immediate flaw in this? By the time I get to the checkout to see these messages I will have done my shopping.

Are they seriously expecting me then to see the error of my ways and trek back down the aisles replacing processed mush with fresh fruit & vegetables?

Give me strength! This really is 'an act, performance or routine'; this is politicians talking without thinking.

But wait for the piece de resistance... the cherry on the icing on the bun of calamity... the dog mess on the shoe of sanity.

They want to force the shops to place the unhealthy stuff on higher shelves to allow good food to inhabit the easy to access lower shelves.


Supermarkets are masters at product placement, they get revenue from suppliers for placing their products in prime locations in the store, and they know how to organise the shelves for maximum profitability.

They are no more likely to put a selection of flax seeds, nuts and fresh spices in a prime location than we are of shifting the Houses of Parliament into the Thames. Even though that's where this wet idea belongs.

By all means promote healthy eating, use the considerable resources of government to seek to make a change in how we buy food, but do so with a BIT of COMMON SENSE.

What has happened to food technology in schools? Where are the kids staggering down the road under the weight of a huge pot of vegetable ragout that they have rustled up?

We need to change attitudes in our young folk, get them to understand where good food comes from, and when it's best to use it.

They will become more able to choose their own diet, and help their busy mums prepare  a fresh meal, or two, a week rather than take-aways and processed pap.

That's what we elect governments for.  Not to redesign a shopping trolley with an area marked out that needs to be filled with healthy produce (I kid you not this was also a proposal from the BIT lot... as I live and breathe!)

Supermarkets need to be legislated against so that they HAVE to use local producers and MUST stock fruit and vegetables in season - and they must be fair in their pricing and profit policies so that consumers and producers don't suffer.

I understand that something needs to be done because the latest figures suggest that six out of ten adults are now overweight, which will place a burden on the economy running into billions of pounds a year.

Heaven preserve us from this type of meddling though, it is the modern day equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic as it sank.

The changes we HAVE to make cut across the responsibilities of the Department of Health, the Treasury and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - is it too much to get a bit (see what I did there!) of joined up thinking?

I hope sense prevails... and soon.

Are carrots the new vegetable of love?

On a lighter note I really enjoyed a story in last week's Daily Mail about how what you eat can affect your interaction with the opposite sex.

I chortled to myself as I read that studies at St Andrew's and Bristol Universities found that those who eat more fruit and vegetables such as carrots and plums are considered more attractive.

The effect is generated by cartenoids which give the yellow and orange foods their distinct colour. This pigment produces a healthy 'tanned' glow in the skin which leads to greater levels of sexual attraction.

Apparently, as little as two months worth of crunching on carrots instead of chocolate bars could turn you into a modern day Casanova (or indeed Ms Casanova as it works for girls as well as boys).

On Friday I was extolling the virtues of getting a bit more yellow in your diet, and the health benefits of lemons maybe there is yet another reason to hit the citrus fruit bowl.

Lemon juice capsules

Maybe our government could use this fact to get the nation's youth eating more fruit and veg... if nothing else, it would make for a more interesting campaign than the one they are currently running!

Might be more successful too...




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