The Price of Health – addendum

Making a profit on a product or service, is of course a way of making a living. Most small businesses operate in this way but the multi-nationals have just got more and more greedy.

The horse-meat scandal a while ago is just one example of this. It is wrong on so many levels – the least of which is the ingestion of horse meat! The meat, providing it has been responsibly reared, is an excellent food. But straight away, the first issue pops up. “Responsibly reared” meat is I suspect, the last thing on the mind of someone determined to increase profits – which brings us smartly to the second issue. We’ve been hoodwinked, putting it mildly. Why do we trust the people who run these conglomerates? We have trusted them and when this has blown over, we will again! This would be madness, because they will just be looking for the next con to increase their profits.

Another major problem for us all, is that our right to choose has been removed. Many in this country would choose not to eat horse meat. But those whose religions dictate what foods are eaten, also have a right to be outraged at the companies that have let them down by adulterating foods claiming to be beef when pork has been added.

I know that these thoughts are not unique but it sets the scene for my worries as a nutritionist.

For some children, a hot school lunch is the only one they are likely to get. School dinners are never going to be the best food nutritionally, because, they are likely to be chosen on cost over nutrition. Nonetheless, there will be some protein, fat and carbohydrate and therefore some of the important nutrients for building bodies will be present.

Horse meat is undoubtedly a cheap option or we wouldn’t have had this fiasco, but deception/greed/corruption/conspiracy aside, it is a nutritious meat. We need to get rid of this ridiculous “yuk” factor that we have acquired over time so that there is food for all – proper nutritious food. Why should we give our kids “kids” food? This is nonsense. Some years ago, there was an experiment in a primary school. The cooks had to be taught how to cook war-time fare and everyone had to eat it. Not only this but some children (and parents) also had to eat this way at home. There was some resistance of course, but mainly at the start of the experiment. Later, it became very well accepted. Food was plentiful and perhaps a little too stodgy for some people now, but traditional cookery methods and ingredients were used and I imagine that they would be far healthier than today’s meals.

Christmas Dinner Typical meals would include lard-cooked fried eggs or porridge (not the expensive microwave or instant oat cereals) Bread baked the old fashioned way was served with dripping thus saving those precious fat-soluble vitamins. Dinner consisted of stews, soups, offal and root and leafy veg and of course, potatoes. Spotted dick (more lard) and rice pudding were the puddings on offer. Tea consisted of kidneys/sardines or something else, on toast and very basic cakes.

The fact that the children got on well with this diet is testimony in itself – they’re adaptable. The school lunches above cost very little – probably the same as the bought in processed food available now which has only to be heated. What has happened to real cooks?
One of the best ways to get loads of nutrition into a fairly inexpensive, delicious lunch is – soup! If it is made with home made stock (cheap as chips but takes a while!), lots of veg and some inexpensive fish/meat, you end up with all that children need at lunch time. Accompany with a cheese scone or some decent bread and top off with a yogurt or piece of fruit and bingo! Why is this so difficult? I know they can’t have this every day but there are loads of other meals that count be offered without breaking the bank.

Parents have rightly (but in my view, for the wrong reason) been outraged at what goes in to school meals. But if they decide to give their children a packed lunch, the risk they might be taking is replacing one poor food with another. Jam sandwiches, crisps, chocolate bars and a sweet drink will offer nothing nutritionally and will ultimately do harm.

The best thing that could come from all this is that domestic science lessons will be returned to the classroom, starting in primary school. The only way that coming generations can possibly be healthy, is to learn to cook.

I am not being melodramatic when I say that if things carry on the way they are now, we will have parents burying their children in the future – and that is not what nature intended.

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