One of the risk factors in COVID19 is said to be obesity. Our blustering Prime Minister has a mission to beat obesity and improve the health of the Nation. Having suffered with a bout of sickness himself and with a new son to protect he is obviously going to start with himself. I read an article suggesting that the government is intending to place a new tax on junk food, well they’ve got to get their money back somehow and I wondered if this is the right way to go.
I think that getting on top of obesity is something that needs to go back to basics. I feel that we have, as a society, lost the knowledge and skill to cook simple meals cheaply. As an old lady I can remember, when my daughter was young, buying one lamb chop from our local butcher and one potato and one carrot from our greengrocer. I knew that I could make a wholesome meal for her whilst Hubby in a hurry and I could get by on a cauliflower cheese. These were lessons that I learned at school, in what we used to call Home Economics and by helping my Mum in our kitchen. Today, schools across the board teach a subject called Food Tech which has little resemblance to the weekly task of learning to appreciate the importance of weights, measures and how to combine the right ingredients in the right quantities to bake a cake. I think it’s important to return to a better way.
I find it very easy to use a few basic ingredients and create something worth eating in no time at all. For instance pasta can be jazzed up in so many different ways. Some leftover cooked ham can be sliced up and put in to a cheese sauce mixed with pasta. A tomato sauce made with a shallot and some fresh tomatoes past their best, which are always better, can make that pasta taste totally different. Not every meal needs meat, indeed it’s ethically correct to limit our intake of animal produce. Two eggs can be transformed into a frittata with the addition of a potato and the rest of that green pepper which has been loitering in the back of the fridge waiting for it’s moment to shine. Jacket potatoes are a great way of getting fibre and with the addition of a tin of baked beans and some cheese can be toasted under the grill for a tasty, filling meal.
I don’t want to sound smug about this and please don’t think that I am being in any way ‘Delia Smith’ about these, but if we really want to combat obesity it needs to start at the beginning. Who benefits if we tax junk food? And, if we tax did it work by increasing the tax on sugar, cigarettes or alcohol it just means people are lining the coffers of the Treasury with their hard-earned money and the money isn’t spent to aid the lung cancers and the addiction clinics which desperately need the help. The same would happen if we taxed junk food. It would not be spent to help diabetes clinics or cardiology wards, rather to line the pockets of those who are already eating at Mitchelin starred restaurants and private members clubs.
We have been battling this since the 1970’s, children have been getting fatter and we have become wider and still we have governments telling us that obesity is an issue. Well, durrr, we know that and we don’t like the fact that we are getting bigger. We’d love to live in that utopian world where we all go out for a jog in the morning or play a game of tennis at lunch, which incidentally is a salad with a small glass of wine, but the fact that we can’t do these things is not helped by the pressures put on us by work, commuting, the price of childcare, our time poverty. We are expected to be in 7 different places at once providing care for our elderly parents, care for our children, support for our spouses, I’m surprised we aren’t all in therapy except we can’t bloody well afford it!
If we just rerouted the taxes to help schools teach our pupils the pleasures of cooking and learning to create simple, healthy meals at an early age we could live in that utopian nation.