Fat cats and diet books

 

Firstly, an explanation for recent blog silence. Along with a couple of new ventures you’ll soon be hearing about, I have been writing a short book which will be out this October if the publishers like what I’ve sent over. If you don’t see another post from me for a while it means they have sent it back to be re-written.

Now: Jay Rayner, The Observer restaurant critic. He’s one of the few critics I like, even though he didn’t like The Cinnamon Club or Roast. It’s taken me over a decade to accept it, but his observations on them were valid at the time and helped us get better.  In an article today he takes a swipe against healthy eating, or rather the advocates of healthy eating. He says the diet books of today differ from previous generations of what he considers flawed thinking (Atkins etc) in that the practitioners today claim a moral high ground.

“There is an implication in these titles, written by young people with glossy hair and clear eyes who look like they think their farts smell only of peaches and peppermint, that if you don’t follow their plans you will not merely be fat. You will be bad. You will be a flawed person who through, lack of insight and moral fibre, has failed to reach their full potential in the way the authors have,” he says.

Indeed there are a lot of people bearing that description around at the moment and lest we forget, there are lot of people around at the moment bearing the following description: over-weight, lethargic folk wobbling from pubs to fried chicken shops clogging up their arteries today and clogging up our hospital wards tomorrow. They won’t just be fat. They will be dead at an early age.

I know which I’d rather be and have bought myself a Nutribullet.

“Food does not have a moral aspect. Only the people eating it do,” he goes on. At the risk of gaining a third lashing from him for our next venture, I disagree. The people producing our food have a moral aspect – not just in the shape of organic or sustainable farmers, but also for those who clearly have no moral aspect, purely a code of greed. GM crop producers through to the people highlighted in the film “Cowspiracy” who protect the massive fortunes they make in destroying the planet through their cattle production disrupt Jay’s suggestion because most people don’t have a moral aspect to their food decisions.

Instead, our decisions are largely based on convenience, price and in families, what keeps the kids quiet.

The exploration of healthy eating and the provenance of our ingredients is largely still a middle class affair enthusiastically conducted in farmers markets in smart suburbs. Where I would agree with Jay is that these new food fashionistas are largely conversing with people like them. I’d like to see them come with me to the school in Tower Hamlets we’ve been working with at Roast for a while to not only get school meals have even a semblance of nutritional value but also to get kids interested in cooking healthy meals.

These bourgeois slaps ignore a much bigger fight on our hands.

About Iqbal Wahhab

Founder of Roast Restaurant, Borough Market.
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