The Beast from the East….Blizzards require bread but beware processed foods!

With days of official meteorological advance warning the bad weather was expected so the rush was on to buy up bread stocks…bread-buying made a headline news item! Always a good idea to have a reasonable larder of long-life foods to draw upon in an emergency and the freezer is critical to sensible everyday shopping as well as for pizzas and ice cream; frozen vegetables offer high levels of nutrients as they are “processed” very quickly in factories very close to the production. Now I write this as earlier in the month a French scientific report claimed that “processed foods cause cancer”, with “frozen food” cited amongst the offenders. Anyone reading this might have noted that this blanket claim offered no explanation as to the scientists’ definition of “processed food”.

Surely many healthy foods are “processed” by the very fact that they have gone through various chemical processes to alter their original state? Natural organic yoghurt must head the “good list” but it’s the product of a chemical process so it can be labelled a processed food!

I’ve just watched a BBC report claiming to be from a dietician; she advised consumers to check the label and avoid the loaf if there were ingredients listed that they couldn’t pronounce. So is that the way to search out “processed food”?

Basic bread should simply contain flour, yeast, salt and water; but what about fats and emulsifiers? If consumers are not baking their own bread they will be susceptible to the vagaries of their supermarket. Perhaps the wisest advice is to work towards a wide range of foods and critically to teach children from a young age to eat a wide variety of foodstuffs; a learning process which is as critical as all the “first steps” everyone wants to record for posterity.  It worries me to see these Groupon offers for “cake bashing” birthday photographic sessions to mark the child’s first birthday; is cake for bashing? What looks like fun for an adult looking for easy pleasure must surely create confusion for babies?

Perhaps a practical cooking session learning the realities of food and producing a loaf would make more sense once the child possesses sufficient logic?

The debates about healthy eating and the growing obesity problem requires a full-frontal approach from the start; understanding what food is, the importance of eating a wide variety and how it’s produced is the framework which needs to be established; scientists researching and publishing vague reports surely serves no one?

The blizzards may keep many indoors; they will need to delve into their food stores including canned and frozen foods; people need to learn basic food science and cooking skills to be able to make a balanced meal; it’s not impossible but the knowledge and skills need to be taught to the young. Cookery lessons sound old-fashioned when part of a school curriculum but why does healthy eating and having the skills to knock up a reasonable meal on a budget not deserve a place alongside being able to perform mathematical equations?


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