Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 7 July 2008

Brown's "don't waste food" campaign

A lot of fun is being had in the blogosphere, mocking Gordon Brown's latest initiative, launched partly as the usual Sunday/Monday 'new policy' designed to fill the airwaves for half a day or a day and be soon forgotten, and partly to give him something important-sounding to say at the G8 summit in Hokkaido (Japan).

It's quite amusing to visit this year's G8 website because it has a very important announcement on the homepage that the image sizes are controlled to reduce electricity consumptiopn - fair enough - but the welcome video then proceeds to show various of the political leaders arriving in large aircraft. No doubt each of the Leaders has quite a large entourage, who will all need lodging, feeding and no doubt entertainment (geishas anyone? - not for Mr Merkel, I supppse, maybe she'll get a sumo wrestler). Have these people never heard of video-conferencing?

Anyway, to get back to Gordon Brown and his lectures to us on food. Whilst I think his latest effort at 'spin', as a subsitute for actually running the country even moderately effectively, may in theory have some small validity, his cack-handed presentational efforts don't fool anyone. On the other hand I know that many people, particularly younger people, are in my view overly-sensitive to 'best before' and 'use by' dates and other features of the health & safety mania that has infected our civilisation in recent years.

The flaws in planning ahead when buying food suppplies for a whole week ahead, which he suggests, have been outlined by others. A few examples:
- you do your 'big' shoppping at the weekend for the coming week or so and plan this or that chiiled pre-prepared dish for each evening meal, however later you decide to eat out rather than consume the lasagna or lamb shanks you had pencilled in for Wednesday and on Thursday or Friday you decide to have a take-out meal rather than eat the pizza waiting in the 'fridge;
- both go in the waste bin.

My system for many years has been to buy durable items (tinned or dried goods) irregularly, but in sizeable quantities. I buy fresh items (meat, fish, vegetables, fruit etc) in much smaller quantities, but much more regularly. I do not eat pre-prepared food. Ever. It is a simple matter to make an omelette or a salad, for example, and takes no longer than heating some pre-prepared muck in a micro-wave. It is also, in my view, less likely to be over-laden with salt and other questionnable chemicals, added purely for the convenience of the manufacturers and their profit margins.

As for 'use by' and 'best before' dates, I know what each of these terms means. I tend to obey the 'use by' warnings, specially where these appear on dairy products, although I do not believe that certain dairy items (blue cheeses, for example) need to be thrown out the moment the 'use by' date comes around. I positively ignore warnings on fresh meats, other than chicken or pork. I prefer my beef to be well-aged and trust my own judgement not to eat items which really are 'off'. I rarely if ever wash fresh fruit, such as cherries, strawberries or blueberries - possibly I occasionally (but almost never, in reality) have a slight tummy upset, but I think this allows my body to acquire some beneficial immunity to future infections. The most I do is rinse things briefly under a running tap. I'm still alive.

I rarely throw much away except around Christmas, when I probably over-cater in a fairly profligate way and have to throw quite a lot away afterwards, and if I am catering for larger numbers at other times of the year (for the occasional dinner parties or buffets I hold).

Whilst the Prime Minister may have a point, though, he makes himself look foolish by seeming to lecture people, specially when he could actually be doing what we pay him to do - manage the country effectively - something he has signally failed to do.

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