How are you today?

Fit and healthy?

Do you eat all the right foods?

What are the right foods?

Are there any right foods?

A lot of questions today! The last one is particularly interesting, isn’t it? Is there any food or drink (including water) that at some time has not been shown by some ‘new study’ to be dangerous to health? This is, of course, a rhetorical question because the answer is, No. (Do rhetorical questions have question marks? Now there’s a question!)

Most of the testing is done on small animals (and I’ll leave you to argue the rights and wrongs of that amongst yourselves); mice for example (they breed fast and don’t eat very much). However, when the results of the experiments are scaled up to human size, in most cases you have to eat several kilos per day of the offending substance before you see any effect – still better be safe than sorry!

And, can we believe the ‘scientific’ studies? It now seems that fat is not bad for you!

The variety of foods available to us today is tremendous. Products from around the world, and all in our local shop. One particular effect of this, lamented by some people, including myself, is that seasons seem to have disappeared. Nowadays you can buy almost everything at any time of the year. But do we really want fresh strawberries after Christmas dinner? Surely they belong to the balmy days of an English summer. There’s an automatic association of strawberries with tennis at Wimbledon, cricket at Lords, and sailing at Henley. Ah, fond memories: huddling under an umbrella debating which way the black cloud is moving. Actually, come to think of it, the weather in England can often be better in December than June and July; perhaps we should give the Christmas pudding the elbow.

Vegetables contain so many things that our bodies need that we should eat lots of them, something we are constantly reminded of from the moment we are able to hold a knife and fork – “eat up your vegetables or you won’t get any ice cream”. Fresh ones require washing to remove chemicals. (Incidentally, did you know that tinned peas used to have an artificial colouring added, probably still do, to make them greener?) The washing unfortunately also removes many of the vitamins. Boiling, certainly as enthusiastically as the English do, removes any last traces of goodness.

Of course there is always the frozen variety – ‘fresh as the moment when the pod when pop’, for those of you who remember that commercial for Bird’s Eye peas. No washing required and you can put them directly in that wonderful application of 20th century technology, the microwave oven.

If you’d have suggested to someone 50 years ago that we’d be bombarding our food with electromagnetic radiation they’d have called for the van with the men in white coats to remove you. The microwave has led to the creation of a whole new way of food preparation: the instant meal. Pierce the wrapping, pop the container in the microwave and in less time than it takes you to find a knife and fork you’ll hear the ping that tells you it’s time to eat. Convenient? You bet, but don’t you miss all fun of the hours of preparation and slaving over a hot stove? No? Shame on you. In that case I’ll have to turn down your invitation to dinner. I’ll stay at home and have some real food. Now, where did I put that leaflet from the pizza delivery?. Oh and by the way, don’t forget that the microwave is not for drying the dog after it’s been out the rain: the turntable makes it dizzy.

What about the food of the future? We’ve already seen the emergence of the magical soya bean. It can replace everything from milk to meat. Does this mean that the doe-eyed Swiss cow will soon be redundant? No more clanging of bells as you trundle along the wanderweg after a hearty meal. The tons of methane will not be missed I’m sure.

If we are to believe the science fiction writers, food as we know it will be replaced by pills. Can you imagine dinner consisting of two pink and one blue tablet, and, if you’re feeling really self indulgent and not too worried about your figure, a small brown one after? Hopefully all this will be long after I’ve gone to the great restaurant in the sky. Should be a good place with all the television chefs there.

Bon appétit.

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