Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Saturday, 31 August 2013
Jamie Oliver and "Poor" Eating
As most of you will know, I'm really interested in nutrition.
When I see so many obese children here in Germany - sitting in the underground, drinking lots of Coke, one kid occupying two seats, I think: "Poor, poor kids!"
These children are often scolded by other children pitiless, they refuse to play with them, shun them. Obese children are victims of their upbringing. Often parents, who don't "Have" enough time for them, give them money instead - I watched little schoolchildren coming from school, which in Germany often ends about 1 a.m, going to McDonald's or buying sweets at the kiosk. Sadly, the meals in full-time schools are often cheap, but nutritionally cheap too.
Would it help to bring back into school the class for basic cooking and household knowledge, that long time ago was abolished? Give a net, teach to fish, make children independent, give them a choice? Of course those classes must be for girls AND boys. Showing a football-hero cooking, a singer sitting with her children at a table and eat - pipe dreams?
A few years ago Jamie Oliver attempted at a school to teach children how to eat in a healthy way (and there were rumours that mothers and aunties stood at the fence of that school and gave the 'poor children' chocolate bars...).
I think it is a very, very good thing to teach and try to enable a change.
Give role models. Not (though well-intentioned) laws as the Green Party in Germany tried to advance, suggesting that everybody in Germany MUST have a vegetarian day once a week. Telling people what and when to eat is no good: in a democracy you can teach, try to convince - but then people have the right to make their own adult choice, as long as they do not hurt the health of others. Laws that make sugar expensive, or forbid trans-fats (the cheap fats in so many 'convenient' food) might work. But look at the attempt of NY's mayor to forbid the huge Coke-bottles. I heard that even Michelle Obama had to change her fight against the food industry to the (also convincing) 'Let's Move Campaign''. I really admire her attempt to change nutritional habits, but do also believe that the food industry has great influence (look at the following post - I don't know which political direction Marion Nestle belongs to, but her arguments sounds convincing: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2011/12/lets-move-campaign-gives-up-on-healthy-diets-for-kids/)
Jamie Oliver talked of 'people staring at a huge TV screen, eating out of styrofoam-boxes". He accused poor people to spend their money on 'entertainment' instead of spending it for valuable nutrition.
In London I had the impression that supermarkets offer a lot more convenience food - and in huger portions - than in Germany. I loved the picture of hundred of Londoners sitting on a sunny day on the steps of St. Paul's, eating out of little card boxes. Because I have nothing against meals out of card-boxes, it can be fun, like a picnic: it depends on what is in the box.
Or on the plate: in the little restaurants in Berlin or London where people order 'Business lunch', I fear that the three decorative lettuce leaves often only hide that these dinners might be not much more valuable in nutrition as styrofoam boxes and lunch-bags.
That's why I added the Punch-and-Judy-photo (which I took in Russel Square): it is so easy to hit a certain group, while another group is 'sinning' only on a higher level...
The suggestion of home-made food - or 'Naturally Fast Food', as LEON called it rightly - is good! Takes often not more than half an hour. (OK - you have to shop).
But I fear it is often sheer laziness (or exhaustion): people - rich or poor - love to look at cook-shows in TV, but it is more comfortable not to cook. Not to clean-up afterwards. Or have to do the dishes.
Jamie Oliver said that it is not more expensive to feed your family with fresh home prepared food. Buying at the farmer's market instead of huge units in the supermarket - and then throwing away half of it, because it rotted.
I'll tell you about my field research "Farmer's market versus Supermarket" in the next post. Looking forward to the face of the farmer when I ask for '10 mange-touts' - or 'grab them', as Oliver said.
See you! (Hopefully)