Sugar, Sugar

7th May 2014

So let’s start with a follow-up on my last email to Tastemade, my Network Channel. Despite the fact that I can’t see how they will get any further revenue from me via YouTube they are unwilling to terminate the contract. That suggests to me that they are making money from my videos in other ways, ways which they are not disclosing. Maybe they get a subsidy directly from YouTube based on the number of suckers who have signed with them. Maybe they have some kind of deal with YouTube where they put adverts directly on my videos without YouTube’s intervention. I can only speculate. At least I only have another 5 months of my prison sentence left.

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There’s been a lot in the British media this week about sugar in foods. I’ve heard and read things from “learnĂ©d” people expressing near outrage at the amount of “sugar” in foods ranging from soft drinks to breakfast cereal. Then there were a lot of people who were calling for Government intervention on the matter. Ban all cans of pop in schools! Make food manufacturers state the amount of sugar on the packaging! And then there were the very helpful people who suggested that it was just as bad for you to drink fruit juice as fizzy drinks because of all the sugar in fruit juice.

Sucrose

Hang on a minute… Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we were being told to eat 7 (yes, seven) portions of fruit and veg per day to stay healthy? But what about all that sugar? Does that mean that we’ll get fat and diabetic from eating too much fruit and veg?

The problem with many of these nutritional pearls of wisdom is that they are one-dimensional. In other words they examine a single piece of the jigsaw puzzle and use it to make a media-friendly story. Amongst all the scaremongering and indignation I heard two voices of reason, both of them on a radio chat show (I’m a fan of Radio 5 if you are interested). Voice of Reason #1 pointed out that in order to assess whether a food was bad for you or not you needed to consider two things. First, what is the total nutritional spectrum of the food? Does it contain things that are important for health as well as some things that we might consider unhealthy? Second, how much of this food are you consuming and how often? In other words, Voice of Reason #1 was advocating eating A BALANCED DIET. Gosh, that’s a bit of a radical suggestion in this day and age! He also pointed out that “sugar” is a generic term covering a range of compounds and it was important to identify which sugar or sugars we should be concerned about

Which leads me on to Voice of Reason #2. This lady was pointing out that we have become rather lazy. We buy processed ready meals, we sit in front of the TV for hours on end, and our children spend too much time playing computer games. As a child I spent most of my time playing in the street, running around. Only bad weather would force us to play indoors. Voice of Reason #2 also observed that many of her friends don’t know how to cook things from scratch. When asked how that can be when our TV schedule is saturated with cooking programmes she rightly identified that the majority of these are “aspirational” rather than “instructional”. I personally have never learned anything useful from the likes of Messrs Oliver, Ramsey or Lawson, which is why I don’t watch them. The only British TV chef I ever watch is Rick Stein, simply because his programmes are about food and culture rather than cooking.

I digress. My principles are simple. I don’t worry about whether this food or that food will make me fat or give me cancer or prevent me from getting cancer or… I try to eat a balanced diet, make as many of my own meals as possible, and exercise to keep my body functioning properly. Just say “NO” to that lasagne ready meal.

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My mother is here this week and cooking for her is always interesting. She doesn’t like spicy food and I’m not allowed to cook anything that she and her partner eat as part of their weekly schedule. In particular, anything involving spaghetti is a no-no as spag bol is a weekly occurrence for my mother. Furthermore everything must have a gravy with it. My mother won’t eat “dry food”, although she’ll happily sit and scoff her way through packets of crisps and biscuits. Somehow the main meal of the day is inedible if it isn’t sloshing around in a liquid. So tonight it’s Tuscan-Style stew, tomorrow is Shepherd’s Pie with a side of gravy, Friday is fish & chips (traditional and uncontestable). Saturday we’ll go out for dinner and I’ll worry about Sunday nearer the time!

Have a balanced week!

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