Many years ago there was a fad for huge vitamin C tablets – take one of these a day and you life would be transformed. What the adverts did not tell you was that these tablets contained far more than you needed and your body gets no advantage from extra vitamin C; indeed, it discards it.
Of course we are better educated on such matters now; or perhaps not. The new scam on the block is the protein drink. This is a spin off from the sports and body building world where athletes increase the amount of protein to help repair damaged and worn muscles after working out. Continue reading →
In his keynote speech at the NRA Show in Chicago, Howard Schultz has said that large companies should be accountable to the communities in which they operate But he managed to avoid mentioning whether they should pay as much tax as every one else.
Back in 2008 Starbucks was loosing focus with its customers – years of fast growth led the company to forget that though the company was vast, the actual restaurants were small. Schultz refocused the way the company employees connected with the customer – thinking small and individual rather than big and corporate. This is a good strategy for any company, especially in the service/catering sector, and it worked. Continue reading →
Jamie 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?
Salt in our diets has the potential to be a problem. Human beings are adept at using salt within our systems which is a good thing as it naturally occurs in a lot of what we eat. We seem to thrive on small amounts of salt, but too much can be detrimental to our health, though the exact nature of the issues of strokes and cardiovascular disease remain contentious.
When we process food (not just modern methods, but ancient methods too), salt is invaluable. It works to preserve food like cheeses and hams and has been used as such for over six thousand years. Salt will also improve the flavour of many foods and has a distinctive flavour of its own.
So, it is not a bad thing that campaigning groups like CASH highlight levels of salt in our food, especially as the increase in highly manufactured foods has produced products where the salt level is not always evident by taste alone.
In good cheeses, however, this is quite idiotic.
Salt in cheese is essential, not just for technical production reasons and health & safety, but because it is part of the character of cheese. Cheese lovers will describe cheese by its salt level. Roquefort, for instance, a regulated cheese that can only be produced to a set recipe in a certain area of France, is known for its unique, salty flavour – that is what the cheese is all about.
So, why in publicising their report did CASH decide to announce, “The biggest survey of its kind reveals the alarming amounts of salt hidden in cheese?”
Hidden? Since when has salt been hidden in cheese? It has been part of its manufacturing process for THOUSANDS of years. The whole point of cheese is that you press and salt curdled milk – that is what cheese is. And many cheese will have very high levels of salt – especially beautifully crafted artisan cheeses.
There are two problems here, I suspect.
Firstly a complete ignorance of what cheese is by the writers of the report. Secondly, an assumption that when you buy a wonderful cheese that you eat great big slabs of it at a sitting.
Neither is excusable, but both are probably very common in our modern UK culture where we have become so lamely ignorant of what food is and how it is to be enjoyed.
In promoting this report, the people at CASH would have been far more helpful if they were to announce that perhaps we eat too much cheese at a sitting. That we should abandon cheep nasty versions and stick to the wonderful examples from round our country and round the world, and eat sensible amounts of them, enjoying them to the full without spending a fortune.
That would have been helpful. It would have promoted great food, good dietary practice and a sensible health message.
Instead, they decide to scandalise a 6000 year old product.
I am all for good health information, but when it is couched in such terms as the promotion for this report (bearing in mind that few will read the report itself), it does not inform, it does not help and it just sounds ignorant. I can guarantee that the French government and the licensed producers of Roquefort, a cheese whose origins date back to AD79, will be less than impressed with this report.
It can be hugely difficult to work out what is good for you, which is bad for you and which is okay as long as you don’t eat too much too often. Manufacturers enjoy the confusion in the market place. It is not out of some malicious vindictiveness, but because the less people question products, the more likely they are going to buy it on the basis of the packaging, the emphasis of the promotion or which celeb is paid to say they eat it (even if in reality they think it is disgusting.)
The consumer magazine “Which?” in the UK has just published a report describing the health benefits of cereal bars as a myth. But didn’t we know that already? Continue reading →
This was the question Jacques Peretti put to Public Health Minister Anne Milton (Conservative MP for Guilford) in the concluding interview of his stunning three part documentary The Men Who Mad Us Fat on BBC2.
This episode looked at how the large retailers have reacted to the changing food world as public concern over healthy food options increased. There is an understandable misconception that something that appears to be healthier or is made from fresher ingredients is therefore less fattening.
“If you live on organic chocolate, organic ice cream and organic oven chips you will get fat,” says Simon Wright, the organic specialist who advised Sainsbury on their organic policy. And this is very true – how often in these pages have we said that it is not whether we eat fast food or not, it is how much we eat at the end of the day, or as this programme points out, how much we are sold. Continue reading →