Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Tuesday 05/05/09

Forgot the traditional 4th of May greeting yesterday – May the 4th be with you.

Depressed again on returning to work after a Bank Holiday. The problem with sales is that your best is never good enough and there is no end-game. Your reward for doing your best is to have 10% added on to your target next year, which is soul destroying.

Hay bought a book yesterday on Amazon – Michael Pollan’s ‘In Defence of Food’.

I found this review, which is both amusing and edifying:


Subjects covered:

  • The French Paradox - why do French people spend so much more money and time on food and yet consistently live healthier and longer lives than Americans?
  • Why nutritional claims should be ignored on food products (hint; if they're telling you it's low in fat, check the sugars etc.).
  • Just why it is so hard to work out what difference adding or removing one element from a person's diet has. When you factor in the person lying about their diet in the first place, the very long and extremely detailed forms they have to complete to track food intake, life changes etc., it's a wonder any judgment can ever be made.
  • Why switching from eating fat to carbohydrates makes you fatter and unhealthier and why the American government encouraged an entire generation to make that misguided switch.

Pollan's rules of thumb:

  1. 'Eat food' - meaning proper food made from proper ingredients instead of food products made from everything else. Homemade cake instead of 'diet' cake bars.
  2. 'Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food', with the additional comment, 'don't eat anything incapable of rotting is another personal policy you might consider adopting'.
  3. 'Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup.’
  4. 'You are what you eat eats too’ - that is, the diet of the animals we eat has a bearing on the nutritional quality and healthfulness, of the food itself, whether it is meat or milk or eggs.'
  5. Do all your eating at a table. No, a desk is not a table.


Regarding 3 above, I would add that you shouldn’t eat anything having ingredients that comprise more than one word, unless one of them is the name of a place.

I read an article in the papers this weekend saying that Farley’s, the baby food company, has been censured after its rusks were found to contain almost 30% sugar – more than can be found in adult biscuits. Farley’s defended themselves by saying they contained little fat and no added salt. That’s like being accused of killing someone with a knife, but saying you should be let off as you didn’t use a gun or a hand grenade.

Cow & Gate, another baby food company, has discontinued a range of biscuits after they were found to contain hydrogenated fats, which are proven carcinogens.

In a swansong report, Sir Alan Steer, the UK government’s behaviour Tsar and a former head teacher, says that a good old-fashioned bawling out in the head's office can be a better way of dealing with badly behaved pupils than suspending or excluding them. Educationalists will doubtless accuse Sir Alan of heresy and lambast him for daring to speak common sense (why does my American spell-checker want to spell that as ‘lambaste’, which I would imagine is pronounced very differently from ‘lambast’ and is a variant with which I am entirely unfamiliar?).


  1. 'Lambaste' - isn't that something you do to the Sunday roast to make sure it gets a nice golden brown colour?

  2. May the 4th be with you..........that made me almost fall off of my chair laughing.
    Thanks, I soooo needed that this morning!!
    I followed you over from Fhina's place because I liked the name.
    Please visit me at my blog if you have a moment or two of your life to waste.......

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  3. The mind boggles as to how it was "found" that the biscuits contained something carcinogenic. They didn't know what they were putting in their biscuits ? A baby-food company does not know what it's feeding to children ? That's probably the cause of the behavioural problems that could be solved by a good tongue lashing from time to time !

    May the 4th be with you every year.

  4. Jinka: I was going to make the same comment, but though I'd leave it to someone else.

    MMM&RS: I shall pop over this afternoon, work permitting.

    Kapgaf: Would you not agree that baby food should comprise a mushed up version of what we eat? And I don't mean mushed up frozen TV dinners or tinned lasagne.

  5. I'd say it depends on the age of the child and the digestive tract thereof but yes, as long as we're following Pollan's rules.

  6. Sir, am I in time for the lambaste, and the rocking cognac glasses you were advertising a few moments ago?!

    And, is there a veggie version of lambaste? Quornbaste, perchance... (Which my grandmother would almost certainly not have recognised...) This is the Cinquo de Mayo celebrations, is it not?!

  7. Happy to be back! Sounds like a great book. Really, if you know how easy it is to make a good tomatosauce, you would never use an E-filled jar again. Or pesto. The easiest thing to make and it tastes so much better than the stuff from the shops that contains potatoes!!!!! I mean..potatoes in basilpesto?

    So...thanks for the good advice.