At last, common sense prevails in the media

The Good Life Letter 

27th April 2018

  • Find out what this celebrity chef has to say about healthy food
  • The reason why simple solutions to obesity will never work
  • The garden pest problem that is driving me mad!
On Wednesday I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on TV in his new programme, “Britain’s Fat Fight”, with some trepidation.

Too many times I have tuned in to programmes such as this and ended up throwing things at the TV as some celebrity chef or another starts to bang on about the poor choices the consumer makes and how an obese nation has only itself to blame.

They then proceed to show how using yoghurt and strips of courgette instead of béchamel sauce, cheese and pasta can make a tasty and filling alternative to a traditional lasagne...

...NO IT DOESN’T! It makes a different dish altogether, which tastes nothing like a lasagne, has none of the qualities of a lasagne and zero texture.

Thus I waited with bated breath and a pile of missiles close to hand as the shaggy haired one appeared...
...and I was gobsmacked.

It was as if he was reading the content of a Good Life Letter to the viewers, talking with real sense about the need for the big food companies to take the blame for marketing to children and creating packaging that excites them rather than informs them.

He challenged governments and regulators to do more, but in the end accepted that change would only happen because we choose to buy better products.

If the overly processed, high salt, low quality food stays on the shelves then companies will be forced into change... and that process starts with each of us and happens right now.

Here is an online article that was written before the show and this is the link to the BBC iPlayer to watch the show if you missed it (make sure to catch this before the expiry date!).

I would urge you to at least read the article as you will see what I mean about the man talking sense.

The bigger picture

I suppose one of the reasons that this programme struck a chord with me was because it wasn’t trying to simplify the problem of an obese population but accepted that it is a multifaceted issue.

For too long now the various health ministers and lobby groups have tried to point the finger of blame in one direction only, but I hope that readers, like yourself, know differently.

In my view, The Good Life Letter is about empowering you to know the many options there are for your health. Not to say: 'Do this, don't do that, and behave yourself!'

Chocolate is regularly demonised in the media to sell a few newspaper copies, but it won't solve the problem. And it may simply add more pennies to the cost of living, yet again.

Indeed, the move by the big confectionary companies to reduce the size of their chocolate bars just means that people now buy the double packs, spending more money in the process.

And there's another reason why we should avoid blanket campaigns such as 'evil chocolate’ and recognise that the finger wagging is nonsense...

We all know there's reasonably healthy chocolate, made mainly from cocoa, eaten with some benefits if in moderation and as part of a good varied diet...

And there's unhealthy chocolate – the uber-processed and sugar-laden confectionary you get in the newsagents.
Likewise there's healthy salt – like magnesium rich sea salt – which you sprinkle on fresh, unrefined, homemade food. The salt you can SEE going onto your food and adjust accordingly.

And there's unhealthy salt – the stuff that's jam-packed into ready meals, sauces and snacks. The stuff you don't see. That you don't even know you're eating and in what volume.

There's healthy fat and unhealthy fat. There are good carbs and bad carbs.

If the media, food fanatics and government would stop demonising one substance after another, ramming rules down our throats, and hoodwinking us with their hidden agendas then maybe we can have an open and honest debate about how we can ENJOY food and live happier, healthier lives.

But enough of me ranting about the state of the nation... I have a more pressing problem closer to home.

The annual battle begins

I am no Percy Thrower but I do like a bit of home grown veg.

My garden provides fresh salads, young tender broad beans, tomatoes and chillies (to name just a few of my favourite things!) which can be brought direct from ground to table – nothing beats the freshness.

But I have an adversary that is beginning to get on my nerves.

Small, black slugs... or the thugs as I call them.

These little monsters are just reappearing amongst the young lettuces I transplanted from the greenhouse and have already begun to feast upon my broad beans which I planted in November.

This means war!

In the past I have tried crushed egg shells but found they become ineffective after rain showers because they need to be dry and sharp to prevent the slugs from crawling over them.

Then there were the ingenious copper strips I applied around rings cut from plastic bottles that I put over my plants, but these proved costly and the thugs started to burrow under the soil to get at the tasty morsels beyond the defences.

Last year I created elaborate beer traps that I placed around the garden, but as my Dad observed, “I think the slugs are coming to your garden to party and inviting all their mates too!”

Today I am heading out with a biological weapon – slug killing nematodes.

I have been reading that by watering in a preparation of these creatures which can be bought from garden centres they will protect my plants for up to 6 weeks – I’ll let you know if it works!

Any other suggestions would be welcomed.

Yours, as always


Ray

P.S. If you are battling against the garden right now and finding yourself trailing in after a hard day in need of a body tonic, can I suggest a soak in a nice hot bath with a handful of magnesium flakes in the water.

Right now I have a few big bags available in the shop which make for a very cost effective purchase when compared to other products – get a 4kg bag for the maximum saving.
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