Why we spend more on food than is good for us

Sunday 25th Nov 2012

Last year I wrote Season to Taste, the bible of healthy and seasonal eating, showing how good food can be used to help a range of health problems. When I wrote it, I didnít realise that it would be needed by so many people.

You see, Iíve noticed a number of food related reports that aroused my interest, and Iíve watched them develop over time.

Things got off to a good start towards the end of October when we saw stories about research which damned junk food.

The team from Montrealís Heart Institute showed that food which is high in saturated fat and corn syrup caused blood vessels to constrict and made the heart work harder leading to lasting damage.

They even went as far as top say that just one meal of low quality, high fat can begin to cause irreparable damage. Now given my belief in all things in moderation, I truly hope this is exaggerated, but itís a worrying thought.

Clearly the scene was set for us to all eat more fresh seasonal food, and delight in improving health as a result.

But it looks like the national financial meltdown means we are spending our money on processed food rather than fresh food.

Money worries mean we are more likely to eat a burger than a beetroot

The Guardian published the results their survey which showed in addition to a lack of cash we are also in the midst of a nutritional recession.

Bizarrely it seems that low income families are choosing to buy high fat and processed foods like pizza, coated chicken and tinned pies rather than fresh ingredients.

This makes no sense to me as the packaged product has to be more expensive than a trip to the vegetable and meat aisles.

I buy a pack of mince, some fresh carrots, fresh leeks and broccoli along with tinned tomatoes and pasta and Iíve got meals for the family for at least three nights running.

How can pizza and oven chips be anywhere near as cheap Ė or as tasty?

But this survey showed that the most popular foods for families earning below £25,000 a year were Pot Noodles, tinned soup and meat balls.

At the same time the number of consumers eating their five-a-day has fallen from 7.4m in November 2008 to 6.3m in May this year.

Finally, I saw an article in the Daily Express describing how online company Firebox were offering Christmas lunch in a self heating can.

Turkey, chipolatas, cranberry sauce and vegetables all packed into a tin...canít help thinking that this is the saddest food story of the lot.

Who canít be bothered to roast a turkey, goose or even a chicken with a few fresh vegetables for the most significant meal of the year?

This all really confuses me.

In the recent past families were eating fresh seasonal food from local producers delivered at the lowest cost to local shops, and we all ate well.

What has changed in modern times to cause us to turn our backs on this source of food?

Well I guess we are victims of failing to react to three big challenges to how we live our lives;

1) We have allowed our schools to be more concerned about academic achievement rather than an all round education including domestic science and food preparation.

2) We have allowed huge food retailers to dominate our supply chain, and facilitated their unholy alliance with global food companies and their fancy advertising.

3) We have allowed the accumulated knowledge in our own families concerning food to become dormant.

If we canít honestly say most adults know what to do with a side of mutton and a basket of winter produce how can we expect our children to delight in a pot of slow braised meat and vegetables? This problem can only get worse unless something is done about it.

Discover easy ways to make sure you and your family eat well

The sting in the tail

So, we have a growing clamour for more fresh food to be in the diet.

Our media waking to the blindingly obvious need to change how we use food, and the base knowledge we have about preparing it.

Then the final kicker comes into play.

Our supermarkets announce that in response to this they are going to make it easier for us to get to the fresh food.

They are going to make the fruit and vegetable aisles bigger and add more greens to Ďready mealsí to help up get our quota.

Oh bless them and their kind hearts...or maybe notÖnext week Iíll explain why I donít think they are improving access to their fruit and veg just for our benefit; plus I want to tell you how a multi-national fast food giant has even managed to ruin a raw carrot.


Yours, as always

 

 

 

 

  

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