oliver-bpiJamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who has campaigned long and hard for better, more healthy food in society, has been named in a lawsuit in the US.

Bruce Smith was laid off by Beef Products Inc, who produce ghastly, processed beef generously labelled Pink Slime by Oliver. Also named in the case is US food blogger, Bettina Elias Siegel and broadcaster ABC. Coincidently, Smith appears to be promoting his book about Pink Slime and how it affected his job. I am not suggesting that there is any link between the two issues, of course.

As a writer who writes about the politics of food as well as writing recipes, I think it is essential that commentators should be able to make valid opinions about the food we eat – especially when it comes to the food we feed our children – without the risk of being sued by huge corporations. This is a modern business twist that has also effected the more commercial side of the science and pharmaceutical industries where companies try and shut up critics and writers by suing them.

Despite living longer than our ancestors, we are not, often, healthier. This is as much to do with the huge quantities we eat (and waste) as the more popular complaint of the low quality of many food stuffs.

We need to educate ourselves to eat less and educate the food industry to only supply us with healthy, good quality food.

That means that we should be able to point to and identify the rubbish.

The manufacturers complain that their methods are needed to keep the price down for consumers – but then they undermine that argument by pushing the consumer to buy far more than they need.

Bettina Elias writes on her blog: “For the time being, I’ll have no further comment except to say that I’m confident the First Amendment protects the rights of all Americans, including bloggers like myself, against meritless attempts at censorship like this one.  I will vigorously defend my right, and the rights of all of us, to speak out on matters of public importance and to petition the federal government, as I did through Change.org, to change any policy with which we disagree.

If a company produces low grade, poor quality, food stuffs that has little nutritional value, then they should expect those that actually CARE for the health of the nation to stand up and complain.

It is called the” marketplace” and there will be losers and winners. We want the winners to be the ones that produce food that society can be proud of.

Now, which part of that should be gagged by a legal process?