“A typical pikey British meal – and it’s ALWAYS shades of Orange!!”
My wife and I are more than willing to give our 12 year-old daughter all manner of wholesomely nutritious treasures to enhance her crap-filled school lunchbox. Vinaigrette-dipped Kos lettuce-leaves with a scattering of Aga-roasted hazelnuts nestling on a slice or two of home-cured ham, maybe some Gruyere with a side-order of our own Indian Chutney, a sun-dried tomato or Cox’s Orange Pippin and possibly some stuffed olives and a couple of Grissini with low-fat yoghurt to finish.
Yes, we know that crisps are the Devil’s food and that a can of Coke will dissolve her teeth. As for white bread! Wash your mouth out – but only with Badoit or Evian. What about our favourite – a sachet of Pure E – yes, you’ve guessed it – Haribo gums! Yes! Jammie dodgers, Monster Munch, sausage rolls, Jam sandwiches, chocolate and Limeade which glows in the dark. These are just a few of my favourite things.
Here’s the ultimate admission – my family and I LOVE anything from MacDonald’s – except the salads.
Today, Nanny State has spoken yet again. Last week our kids were all pissed and today, they’re fat but nevertheless malnourished.
My wife and I were standing in a Tesco checkout queue when a girl who was probably in her teens emptied her truck onto the conveyor. EVERYTHING that she had bought was processed – from the Chicken Nuggets and Fish Fingers to the Trifle-in-a-box and jar of Cook-in sauce. When she had emptied all the poisonous grot out of her trolley, she reached down and pulled out another large plastic object. It was a baby-seat containing a beautiful baby girl. Judging by the grown-up food spread before her, the young mother was shopping for one.
So here was a (very) young single mother who probably had never been taught to cook by her own mother and who, in years to come, would doubtless be passing-on her lack of knowledge to her own daughter.
My children are lucky, as are millions of other children. At home they mostly eat food which is prepared properly and cooked. It is high-quality, nutritious and delicious. But if you open our fridge, you will find cans of Coke, processed cheeze and bars of chocolate. There is usually a box of shop-bought sausage rolls. In the cupboards, you will find peanut butter, jam, honey and sugary cereals. There are tins of chocolate biscuits.
There are also fruit bowls, fresh vegatables, fresh meat and other good things.
Mind you, if you rendered-down some of the food that we keep, it would put you in a permanent sugar-coma.
The point that I am trying to make is that if a child eats well at home – eating the occasional piece of crap does not matter. So, if the choice for school lunch is either a white-bread jam sandwich and a packet of crisps or nothing – which would benefit my daughter the most? Children eat what they like and not what they’re supposed to eat.
The media will have a couple of days wheeling out “quick healthy recipes”or introducing fresh home-grown nutritionists – who by the way , always look as if they could do with a MacDonald’s inside them. They will insist on telling us (again) what we already know. We know that a celery stick is a healthier snack than a Kit-Kat or that crème fraîche is better for you that Ben and Jerry’s deliciously scrummily wonderful Cookie Dough ice cream. We know!
The children who do go home to what we call “orange Food”, e.g. A plate of chips, beans and anything in breadcrumbs are a concern but so-what, if in addition, they have a Coke and KitKat for lunch – it won’t kill them. The problem is not within the food but within the ignorance of at least three generations of British kids and adults brought up on processed food.
By the way, let’s please not go all gooey and misty-eyed for the food of our fathers and grandfathers. Most of it was badly-cooked crap. Fish Cakes, mashed potato and cabbage. Beef stew, boiled potatoes and carrots. Fish and Chips. The food was either so bland that you could die of boredom during the main course, or it had enough fat in it to grease a brace of cross-Channel swimmers.
My eldest two sons grew up in France and I still remember morning school runs when we would have to turn back because one of them had forgotten his napkin and/or napkin ring. Yes, children had to take their own (washed and pressed) serviette to school every morning. During lunch, they would sit at small tables and be served freshly-cooked food and there was a jug of water on the table. That simple discipline gave them the correct attitude to food.
They retain that attitude to this day.
When we moved back to the UK, one of the strange things that we noticed was that many “Anglais” eat in the street or they sit outside on walls or benches eating sandwiches. Many sit at their desks all day and have sandwiches brought to them. The Brits are known as a nation of “picniquers”. They even mock other nationalities who actally stop for lunch!
When I lived in France, I clearly remember spending two or three hours over lunch. Not necessarily eating a lot but eating slowly. Before you ask – I was always at my desk at 6 or 7 a.m and finished work after 6 p.m.
Even today, I advise executives to “walk away” from their desks during the day, sit down and eat lunch. Not necessarily in a bistro and I don’t care if lunch is a packet of sandwiches and a bag of crisps – it’s all to do with developing the right attitude. It’s never too late.
I bet that the researchers who gathered the information on the nation’s kids’ appalling lunch habits, themselves ate sandwiches, crisps and drank Coke or beer.
So, if your children want to eat crap – let them.
It is not-only their right – it’s your fault.