Friday, 31 May 2013

Fat Kids, and Good Old Jamie - Published in the South Shropshire Journal 31/5/13

Jamie Oliver – gawd bless ‘im – having already socked it to The Man on school dinners, has got in a right two and eight about over what goes into our children’s lunchboxes. The contents of many he reckons, are tantamount to child abuse. He’s recently had a full-on bust up with Education Secretary Michael Gove over this, but Jamie perpetually ploughs on.

I’m pretty sure it’s not in Jamie’s job-spec to do this sort of stuff, but very few others are doing it, so he takes one for the team. Along with a chap I know called Henry Dimbleby who has a super chain of healthy fast food restaurants called Leon (Shropshire’s crying out for one), there just aren’t many high-profile people with the single-mindedness to take a gargantuan task like this on. Bloody well bravo and chin-chin for fellows like that I say.

It’s far too easy to bash the likes of Oliver as just another celebrity chef, but I’ll defend him until the day is done. There has been no single human being on the planet in the last half-century who has done more to make us celebrate the good things - and decry the bad - in food than Jamie Oliver.

Being complacent that your kids eat junk in lunches provided by their school is just about forgivable. But only just. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s slightly beyond your control, but packing their lunchboxes with nutritionally vacuous crud is reprehensible. The government can’t immediately control this bit, nor can Jamie Oliver, but a culture of bad food sets-in like rot and spreads. It comes from the Mums and Dads who allow their offspring to eat Haribo and Pringles for breakfast.

An industry source tells me, “Home economics as a subject in schools was abandoned when food became part of design technology. Food technology consists of things like ‘design a pizza and design the packaging then explain how you would sell it’. It’s all to do with commercial food production rather than scratch-cooking with proper ingredients.”

This could be happening in your local schools – perhaps it’s worth digging a little deeper?

At some point, when they’re a bit bigger our kids will hide away and smoke cigs, drink bad cider, and learn about the birds and the bees first hand. They’ll decide what goes in their lunch too, and we’ll take it on the chin, like grown-ups. But we must give them a foundation while they’re little and their vital organs untainted by vice.

As parents, we have a singular and ineffable duty to keep our children safe from harm.

Listen to Jamie, and you may find he’s not the wally that you thought he was. He’s just a bloke trying to do his best. And what’s so wrong with that?

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