The Soil Association analysed menus and service at 21 of Britain’s most popular restaurants using a number of parents who collected information in secret.

One chicken product included 19 additional ingredients produced variously in Kazakhstan, Russia, Vietnam, Argentina, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Ukraine and Slovakia.

These people are actually claiming that trade is a bad idea now.

Turnips for all all winter is it to be?

92 thoughts on “You what?”

  1. The SA was originally set up to say “thou shall not put chemicals on your food – albeit only those ones we disapprove of”. Now in true faux charity fashion it’s expanding its remit into puritanical lunacy about trade and economics.

  2. “Kate Blincoe, one of the “secret diner” parents, said: “Our children were served up with vegetable-free meals, sugar-laden deserts, and they had to eat with adult cutlery.”

    Very weird. My assumption is that it’s the parents who ordered the said vegetable free meals and sugar laden deserts?

    Quite what this has to do with soils is also a bit lost on me.

  3. A joke. This has to be a joke. Then again, this is the Soil Association so it probably isn’t a joke.

    Most restaurant chains have to be very competitive as it is a tough market to operate in, especially when dealing with families who have to eat out on a tight budget.

    Is it any surprise that the meals are made with non-organic (I hate that term) food sourced from the countries that produce the food in the most cost-effective way?

    And Burger King and MacDonalds is on the list. Who takes their family to a Burger King or a MacDonalds expecting a healthy meal?

    I am really beginning to hate these industry lobbying associations or hind behind the guise of a charity. All they seem to want to do is brow beat the population at large into conforming their own personal code of behaviour.

  4. They remain entirely ignorant of the different voyages of discovery in order to import spices to make European food palatable.

  5. @David Moore

    When they try to make water flow up hill then that is when we need to worry. That and when we see gangs of children wandering around with plastic bags and fanatical evil grins on their faces.

  6. In fairness, ‘Kate Blincoe’ offers a potential solution to the ongoing migrant crisis – anyone that moronic (and from a read of the press daily there are thousands of people like her) has to be put on a plane to Venezuela/ North Korea or Cuba where their controlling instincts can be indulged to the full – even if the person taking her place is an ISIS head hacker I’d argue they are the lesser evil….

  7. Ingredients don’t carry passports (or, if they do, they bin them on entry), so how the fuck did the parents establish the nationalities of the naughty 19?

  8. Turnips are a fairly recent innovation. Go back to medieval winters and most people had what they had stored from last summer. Bad local harvest equalled death (or near death if they were lucky) by starvation as a Christmas present.

    Fuck and piss on the ecos.

    It is time we started on purging the leftist freaks who daily assault our minds from the media.

    Since we are not murdering socialist scum they can be purged by sacking without compensation and confiscation of their pensions–and the removal of any special or charitable status rotten eco-freak gangs like the soil trust hold.

  9. Bishops, Mark Carney, Soil Association, Murphy.

    Can nobody stick with what they are qualified to address?

    And before anybody pounces on me, I am not excluding the zero option, silence, topic-wise.

  10. Are the Soil’s Association the new face of Pol Pot’s agrarian revolution?

    No they’re the old face of fascist agrarianism, they’ve always been like this.

  11. Who the fuck goes out to eat healthily? I can put together a vegetarian dhal, a risotto or baked beans on toast together at home. Going out is about a large amount of a dead animal covered in a rich sauce.

    And Jamie’s Italian is one of my few vetos in my marriage to my wife. I won’t go in there, because I know that the minute I see “pukka” on the menu, I’ll turn into Howard Beale in Network. He’s a cunt. He’s everything bad about that New Labour era, from fake laddishness to presentation over substance wrapped up in a chef selling overpriced, Italian food to wankers.

  12. These people are mentally ill.

    Does anyone follow this yo the logical conclusion? No tea. No coffee. No pasta or rice. No spices. No wine (except English wine. So no wine). Food miles and ‘localism’ should be applied to everything or nothing, not just the things the middle class loonies dislike.

  13. If the survey is about healthy food, what does it matter where the ingredients come from?

    Organic farming is a load of old bollocks anyway. It’s by no means chemical free, nor are producers consistently tested.

  14. Bit off topic, but referring back to recent conversations about living costs across Europe.
    Took the French for a “recommended” pub lunch in Sussex’s stockbroker belt, yesterday. A “shepherd’s” pie (made with beef mince), a BLT (on plain bread -not toasted, they couldn’t toast), the most miserable hamburger I’ve ever seen – about 2 oz of meat. With 3 small drinks, The service was undetectable. It’s a wonder we weren’t required to cook it ourselves & wash up after..
    Tab £53. 72€!!!
    It was a f*****g embarrassment.
    Yeah. And the menu was full of references to local this & local that. So would have scored high points on this table.
    WTF’s wrong with you people? That business can only survive because it gets paying customers.

  15. “faux charity”: can anyone recommend a national charity that is not a “faux charity”. So far my contenders are the Lifeboats and the Salvation Army. Are they still non-faux? Any other suggestions?

  16. My favourite example of the bizarre ‘local naming’ of food ingredients is a flavour of crisps called “Kirkby Malham chorizo”. Ah, that famous Yorkshire Chorizo!

  17. What do they bloody think would happen to all those poor tea / coffee / spice farmers if people started taking food miles seriously (i.e. fascistically)???

  18. @salamander

    re Burger King and McDonalds. Can you explain exactly what is unhealthy about a piece of bread, meat and a few vegetables?

    For most of human existence people would have killed for a meal like that.

  19. McDonalds use local produce (well local to the country of the restaurant) so I am sure the soil association would be happy. The food is no better or worse healthwise than most restaurants. It’s just the clientele that are worse, unless you are in France where sometimes they are better as the McDonald’s are usually very nice.

  20. He’s a cunt. He’s everything bad about that New Labour era, from fake laddishness to presentation over substance wrapped up in a chef selling overpriced, Italian food to wankers.

    He has a Facebook post doing the rounds about sugar in drinks which can be summed up as:

    “All that information we’ve demanded should be put on drinks is confusing the stupid poor people. Implementing my new, arbitrary labelling system should therefore become law.”

    I looked at what is confusing him (and, apparently, the millions of middle class mothers who drool approvingly) and didn’t see what was wrong with it. Then I remembered most of them had been educated in the UK, where simple division and subtraction is overlooked. If you read between the lines, it is naked snobbishness: I don’t feed my children unhealthy stuff, but those awful poor people over there are too stupid to know any better. Strip away 99% of this health food shite and you’ll be left with raw snobbishness that would have seen vicars wives lecturing the poor on good housekeeping in a bygone era.

  21. Rob,

    > Ah, that famous Yorkshire Chorizo!

    Some British butchers have actually taken to making chorizo in recent years, and some have even won awards, in Spanish competitions. True story.

    Ian,

    > Can you explain exactly what is unhealthy about a piece of bread, meat and a few vegetables?

    I know, right? This pisses me off no end. Put them on a plate separately — maybe with the bread on a side plate — and it’s a healthy meal. Stick them together and it’s EVIL.

    The answer, of course, is anti-Americanism.

  22. I like Jamie Oliver’s recipes. Never been to one of his restaurants to try his actual food, so can’t comment on that. But I’m a good cook, and have picked up some brilliant tips from him over the years. His techniques for fish pie, cheese sauces, and crunchy breadcrumb toppings have all been valuable additions to my skills. My mother really knows her stuff in the kitchen — had her food written up in the national press once — and is quite impressed too. So I’m not convinced by the argument that his cooking’s shite.

    I also have no time for people who complain that someone’s not talking in their “real” accent. It’s the most absurd reverse snobbery. And it’s totally ignorant of where accents come from. And it’s obviously snobbery, because, if it weren’t, Gordon Ramsay would get it too. But no: picking up an upper-middle-class English accent from your peers is fine. It’s picking up a working-class or lower-middle-class accent that apparently is a problem. Pffffff.

    Couldn’t agree more about his bloody political campaigning, though. Rich people campaigning for more taxes for the poor. Why aren’t they having stuff thrown at them in the street?

  23. bloke in spain,

    That’s the standard price for anything in the just-above-Nando’s category. Consider Byron Burgers, the table-service version of McDonalds’s: £9 for a burger, £3 for chips, £5 for an alcoholic drink, and £3 for some olives to share while you wait. With three adults you’re already at £54, and that’s before the nigh-mandatory 12.5% “service charge” which rounds it up to £60. All served in a noisy, echoey restaurant with hard surfaces to ensure maximum aural discomfort, encouraging you to leave as soon as possible.

    For the same thing at lower prices you can go self-order at Wetherspoons or Nando’s, but I wouldn’t take a Frenchman there.

    In most towns you’ll find some restaurants owned & operated by an extended family of immigrants. They might not look impressive from the outside, nor are they located in the best postcodes, but they offer the best quality & service for the money. They’re usually half-empty too, so you can actually hear each other talking.

    Pubs and restaurants aren’t making out like bandits: we know that thousands of pubs have closed their doors since the smoking ban, despite many of them switching to food to attract new customers.

  24. Re: Jamie Oliver, have a look at the velvet glove, iron fist blog for his unbelievably dishonest graph about UK sugar consumption. It’s hilarious.

  25. In most towns you’ll find some restaurants owned & operated by an extended family of immigrants.

    This is what I’ve found to be the major difference between eating out in UK versus France: you can find very good restaurants in the UK, but you need to know where you’re going. if you don’t, you could end up in a place where the “chef” is a student, the staff play music that they want to listen to, and you pay through the nose. Whereas in France, you can just wander into the first place you like the look of – even in small towns – and chances are it’ll be pretty good.

  26. > you can find very good restaurants in the UK, but you need to know where you’re going. … in France, you can just wander into the first place you like the look of – even in small towns – and chances are it’ll be pretty good.

    Very true. There are some great places in London, and some overpriced shite as well. You need to try them out and find out which ones to avoid. Which, of course, is a disincentive to trying out new ones.

    In Northern Ireland, I have to say, the food’s consistently good. Don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed after popping into a pub or cafe on spec. If a pub there has muscles on the menu (and a hell of a lot of them do), they’ll be superb.

    Mind you, I do live on the Ards peninsula. Strangford Lough seafood: great.

  27. Fake charities. I have no idea where their money comes from, but a friend of mine works for the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and I can honestly say they do good work. They’ve recently been publicising the fact that men are more likely to be attacked than women, which tells me they’re not bowing to pressure from the usual suspects.

  28. Andrew,

    > All served in a noisy, echoey restaurant with hard surfaces to ensure maximum aural discomfort, encouraging you to leave as soon as possible.

    To be fair, I blame Ikea for that. The craze for hard floors and hard surfaces everywhere took off in the late 90s when everyone was watching Changing Rooms. Restaurants just went the same way as everyone’s living rooms. There’s a gap in the market for a tapestry business, I reckon.

  29. @TimN
    I have a theory about restaurants in the UK. Whilst the rest of the world dine out because they’re hungry, the Brits do so as a social occasion. So you can chuck anything at them & they’ll pay up & not complain. Because it would “spoil the evening”. Try that on the French and…..

    But I must confess, I’ve just done the same, myself. The dreaded Brit cringe kicked in. Thought I’d lost that. Is it something to do with the weather?

  30. So you can chuck anything at them & they’ll pay up & not complain. Because it would “spoil the evening”. Try that on the French and…..

    When I was in Amiens recently, I stopped for lunch in this restaurant. The table beside me contained 6 elderly French. When the starter arrived, it wasn’t quite what one of them expected so he asked the chap who served it (who was also the proprietor, in his 50s at least). An enthusiastic explanation followed, which was listened to intently by the others, and this led to several minutes more discussion on the finer points of this particular starter. When the server left, the conversation continued on the same subject.

    I was laughing all the way through this: the French absolutely love their food, and can talk about it all day. Probably the reason their food is better is because, despite Brits improving in this area a lot, the French simply take it much more seriously. This leads to:

    Whilst the rest of the world dine out because they’re hungry, the Brits do so as a social occasion.

    Which is very true.

  31. “Pubs and restaurants aren’t making out like bandits:”

    Not sure about that. It depends what you think the business should generate.
    In France or Spain, a bar or restaurant’s often a family working hard for long hours to make a living. Or they’re employing staff who do the same.
    UK side, there seems to be an expectation it’ll generate income, put the proprietor well up the middle-class earnings scale. From a work-rate that’s barely coasting compared with Continentals.

  32. @ bis
    “Not sure about that. It depends what you think the business should generate.”
    Something above zero would be nice: since more and more pubs are closing down, it is clear that some of them don’t achieve that. Last time my wife and I ate in a pub, the landlord’s mother was doing the cleaning (we walked in the back door from its car park not realising that it didn’t open for another five minutes), his daughter should have been behind the bar and his wife should have been cooking [except that one was taking t’other to the pharmacist and then casualty with a nastly dose of conjunctivitis, so he was doubling up as barman and waiter and his mother took over cooking; apologetic about consequent delay, a quite tolerable one, in serving our food]. Pub prices are are high because their costs are unreasonably high.
    The abolition of the Brewer’s “tie” has had the perverse effect of decreasing choice and increasing prices for the pubgoer.
    Take-away food shops and cafes (some labelled “restaurants”), on the other hand, are springing up all over the place because they have massive gross margins without the dreadful rents and other costs imposed on pubs.

  33. @dearieme: yes, the RNLI is still a real charity. They have a constitutional prohibition on taking the State’s shilling.

    The day they remove that prohibition is the day they’ll lose my donations.

    May it never come.

  34. @john77
    What you’re describing there is normal, for anywhere but the UK. My delightful Gloria, owns the bar downstairs is barkeep, cook, waitress, bottle-washer, entertainer, cleaner… from 6pm when she opens until 2am or whenever the last lost soul leaves. You keep ordering & she’ll keep serving. You want a meal for 10 at 4 am & she’d be delighted. She had an entire charity fun-run packing the place & spilling across the pavement, last week. Drinks & scoff. (I pitched in & did some waitering)
    That’s her business, she runs on her own. Don’t suppose she clears more than UK pub manageress. Something about zero is what’s expected, after ex’s & taking a modest wage.
    Although you do have a point about overheads. Britside, the premises costs will be astronomic & the amount the State ( in it’s many incarnations) milks – ruinous. Diversity co-ordinators have t be paid from somewhere & we wouldn’t want the property developers to go hungry, would we?

  35. > So you can chuck anything at them & they’ll pay up & not complain. Because it would “spoil the evening”.

    Yes, and I don’t understand that at all. If my food is worth complaining about, the evening’s already been ruined. By the restaurant. Complaining doesn’t make it any worse — and, if you get a decent apology and a chunk knocked off the bill, may well make it a bit better again.

  36. @TimN
    “the French absolutely love their food, and can talk about it all day.”
    The French, here, showed up with a selection of cheeses & wines.. Going through, sampling them, was close to a religious experience. Or maybe an exhibition of fine art without the irritation of the paintings.

  37. bloke in spain,

    “Yeah. And the menu was full of references to local this & local that. So would have scored high points on this table.”

    It’s obsessions like that that are part of problem. That, organic and small producers. All of which have no bearing on the quality of the product (except fruit and veg that are best picked as near as possible). Who cares if your beef comes from Wales, Wiltshire or Lincolnshire? How long it was hung for matters a lot more.

    Also, we don’t have a food culture in this country. We’re always following fashions in food. You don’t get this so much in France. You go into a place near La Rochelle, you get mouclade. Made by a guy who’s been raised on mouclade. In Colmar, that’ll be choucroute. Choucroute everywhere. It means people get the thousands of hours of doing those things to be really good at them. You can have small family restaurants with great food because they keep churning out the same stuff. We’re jumping around fashions all the time in this country – tapas, Asian fusion, pulled pork. You have pubs with stuff from half a dozen country and a cook making a half-arsed job of all of them.

    I think it’s why curry houses are generally so good – they may not exactly be home cooking, but it’s close enough, and it rarely changes.

  38. You have pubs with stuff from half a dozen country and a cook making a half-arsed job of all of them.

    Hah, I noticed that too. French restaurants have about 4 or 5 main dishes, all of which they cook properly. British pubs often have a phone-book sized menu with everything from curry to pizza, none of which are very good. And the chef is a student.

  39. @The Stig
    Don’t get me started on tapas. They’re a side-dish of food offered free with a drink. If you pay for it, it ain’t tapas.
    @TimN
    I’ve always reckoned the quality of a restaurant is in inverse proportion to the length of it’s menu.
    But, then, I’ve long been a patron of Au Pied de Cochon in Paris 🙂

  40. “Who takes their family to a Burger King or a MacDonalds expecting a healthy meal?”

    I find it slightly worrying that MacDonald’s current advertising campaign is banging away countering myths about their food. They must have got into a pretty dire situation if they’re having to actively and agressively say “we’re not what other people say” instead of “this is what we are”.

  41. Comes down to where folk spend the money: there’s a fab pub on the Isle of Wight called the Taverners (in Godshill). That does local and seasonal stuff and it does a great trade. We keep spending, they keep getting better.

    However, I’m currently spending time in Peterborough, and it’s chain eateries as far as the eye can see. There’s no real difference in price between that and the taverners, but oodles in terms of quality.

    I think peterborough passed some sort of event horizon where chains stormed the independents out of business and now I suspect that demand for good quality food has been supplanted by demand for chain restaurants. I also suspect that brand familiarity will make a decent non-chain restaurant a virtual impossibility.

  42. “I think it’s why curry houses are generally so good..”
    One of life’s mysteries.
    I’ve been eating in Indian households since I was a teen. With people hailing from the Himalayas to the pointy bit at the bottom. I’ve never been given anything remotely like a meal in a curry house.
    It’s a made up cuisine. A melange of 20 different cultures microwaved to order. Mostly by Bangladeshis
    According to Tripadvisor, Lille (France’s 4th city?) has 1172 restaurants. Of which 14 are Indian. (I wonder where the other 10 are?) Not saying I’ve ever known any French eat in them.
    Doesn’t seem to be a hit with the Spanish, either.
    Only the Brits.
    What is it about disguising suspicious dead things in a pool of spices?

  43. > I’ve always reckoned the quality of a restaurant is in inverse proportion to the length of it’s menu.

    Can’t agree there. My favourite Japanese restaurant — now sadly closed — was Mugen at Monument. Absolutely bloody huge menu, and it was all excellent. Place was always full of Japanese people, too, and I assume they knew their stuff.

  44. @ The Stigler
    “Also, we don’t have a food culture in this country.”
    It varies – we used to have home cooking, particularly roast beef, on the one hand and fish’n’chips (until the Russian trawlers overfished the North Sea and cod wars stopped us replacing our catch in the North Atlantic) on the other, but as food importers with over a decade of food rationing in the ’40s and early ’50s, we didn’t go in for restaurants.
    Men cooking (apart from professional chefs) is getting more acceptable [when I was a kid the only men I knew who admitted to cooking were my father, who had been “the best boxer at school” and a war-time RAF pilot who stayed in the RAF after the war; at a formal dinner last night the conversation strayed from food to cooking and I found the two guys opposite both also cooked] and we tend to go in for more interesting stuff than the average housewife – so there is yet hope.

  45. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I think the Soil Association sounds better in the original German: Bodensverein.

    John Square: the Spyglass at Ventnor is very good too (lovely fish and chips i.e. actual pub food). In Ryde on the Esplanade the King Lud, which used to be a spit’n’sawdust sort of a place, now specialises in locally-sourced moules of all varieties. At one time, eating out in the IOW was a nightmare. Now there are excellent places all over.

  46. @john square

    Peterborough food is mostly crap, you need to get out into the styx. if you don’t mind a bit of a drive head up to Witham on the hill and The Six bells. the George at stamford is good but pricey and almost impossible to get into. Then There’s Woodhouse Arms at Corby Glen its good and White Horse at Baston isn’t to shabby either-I took my company president (him being an American) there a while back he was suitably impressed.

  47. If we’re going to advertise eating places on the island, I’d like to throw in Mojac’s in Cowes, which is a perfectly ordinary restaurant that always makes us feel extremely welcome – and does a starter which is basically an all day breakfast salad, which is the right way to do salad 🙂

    I can vouch for the burgers at the King Lud. I won one in a raffle when they redid the menu and it was lovely 🙂

    Oh, and there’s a farm half a mile east of the Needles that claims to do the best cream teas on the Island, and does.

    My main beef with the Island is the amount of freshly-caught fish 🙁 I don’t really like fish, and too many places put too much emphasis on it just because the fisherman hasn’t had a chance to take his boots off by the time it gets served 🙁

  48. @SQ2
    “All cuisine is made-up.”
    Far from it. Cuisines are a response to what’s available & where, within the constraints of how. And, as most of them reflect what the poor of the area eat, how to make the marginally palatable desirable & a little stretch a long way. Hence the recurrence of “rice ‘n bits” turning up wherever they have the rice but are short on the bits. It’s the result we label a “cuisine”.
    Roast beef, spuds et al are the mark of a culture wealthy enough to serve great slabs of meat without a need to disguise it or eke it out. It’s not really a cuisine, as such. Not unless you want to label it Argentinian. There’s not a culture in Europe don’t serve it, if they can afford it.

  49. Jamie Oliver has some decent recipes, his braised sprouts and bacon (braised with the fried bacon fat and butter) is heavenly and certainly not healthy.

    Was interesting in moving to Canada that the Indian food is very different (no tikka masala on menu) and I assume much closer to origin than in UK. Sushi and dim sum also excellent, was taken to a dim sum place recently where I was the only european and nothing was in English, ordering was just pointing at the carts coming around with food.

  50. Not so sure if this thread’s gone off topic, now. It’s only in an atmosphere like the UK, nonsense like the Soil Association puts out would get any mileage.
    It’s like vegetarianism. I got asked about veggy restaurants in Malaga. According to a webguide, there’s a bunch in the tourist center of the city. Out where the Spanish live, there’s two. And I think one of them’s closed. Spanish think “healthy eating” is eating.
    As for trying to convince anyone in Departement Nord cooking in butter’s bad for them… It’s the capital of the French dairy industry FFS! They have cows on the Dept signs on the autoroute. The supermaket sells it in 2kg blocks & in a hundred varieties. They’d think you were barking.

  51. TN:
    “If you read between the lines, it is naked snobbishness: I don’t feed my children unhealthy stuff, but those awful poor people over there are too stupid to know any better. Strip away 99% of this health food shite and you’ll be left with raw snobbishness that would have seen vicars wives lecturing the poor on good housekeeping in a bygone era.”

    That is condescending, but it’s not snobbery. The vicar’s wife is not sneering at the ignorant poor: she wants the best for them. And, as long as we have socialised medicine – whereby I have to contribute to the cost of treating the self-inflicted ailments of the underclass – I reluctantly accept that the proles need some guidance on diet and lifestyle.

  52. “It seems the best we can hope for is Jamie Oliver doing the catering at Ritchie’s post-funeral tea.”

    Ecksy wins the thread.

  53. @Theophrastus

    The thing you’re mostly contributing too is the middle classes living longer and demanding more NHS services to care for them in their dotage. You’d get much better bang for your buck by advertising Digitas, than hectoring the poor over their supposed wrong choices.

  54. bloke in spain,

    I have wondered why. I know that there’s some stuff about Bambi killing off venison sales*, but that doesn’t explain everything. The Americans are like the British with all this crap.

    I’ve been in rural restaurants in France without vegetarian options. I buy my foie gras in a hypermarket. Can you imagine the shitstorm if Waitrose or Sainsbury’s started selling it?

  55. Ian Reid

    That’s not very plausible. Generally, the middle classes have lower morbidity and remain healthier into old age than the underclass. Many middle class people have private health insurance, and they are vastly outnumbered by the lower orders. Go to a major outpatient clinic in an NHS hospital and you’ll see the poorer classes in large numbers.

    A problem with socialised medicine is that many people have little incentive to stay healthy. If you make yourself obese by eating high-calorie grot, the NHS will nevertheless give you a mobility scooter to get you to Burger King.

    Hectoring the poor and health fascism are undesirable, but I see little alternative as long as we have a ‘free at the point of use’ NHS funded entirely from progressive taxation.

    And Dignitas is not part of the solution. Though I’d chip in to buy the Murphatollah a one-way ticket.

  56. Hectoring the poor and health fascism are undesirable, but I see little alternative as long as we have a ‘free at the point of use’ NHS funded entirely from progressive taxation.

    I recently realized that this is precisely why so many statist wankers love the NHS: it gives them a handy excuse to lecture everyone else and ban things they disapprove of.

  57. Theophrastus: “It seems the best we can hope for is Jamie Oliver doing the catering at Ritchie’s post-funeral tea.”

    Ecksy wins the thread.

    I agree, though I wouldn’t have minded seeing the roles slightly reversed with Ritchie dealing with Jamie Oliver’s tax return first.

  58. “…this is precisely why so many statist wankers love the NHS: it gives them a handy excuse to lecture everyone else and ban things they disapprove of.”

    Quite so. But, in so far as the lectures and bansturbatory fantasies encourage people to take more responsibility for their own health, NHS expenditure will be less than it would otherwise be. Also, any increase in personal responsibility helps to undermine the socialist project of reducing us all to dependence on the state.

  59. Rob

    “The welfare state will be brought down by longevity, not obesity.”

    Longevity of itself is not a problem for the welfare state, while obesity is, because longevity can in principle be healthy and involve low dependence.

  60. Bloke in North Dorset

    “That is condescending, but it’s not snobbery. The vicar’s wife is not sneering at the ignorant poor: she wants the best for them. And, as long as we have socialised medicine – whereby I have to contribute to the cost of treating the self-inflicted ailments of the underclass – I reluctantly accept that the proles need some guidance on diet and lifestyle.”

    And how are you going to define a prole and/or underclass and thereby give yourself permission to hector and bully them in to a way of life that you approve of?

    And what is someone decides that you are a prole and that they have a right to hector and bully you?

    I’ve just had to point this CS Lewis quote out to someone of a sailing forum because they thought they had the right to decide how everyone else should live:
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”

  61. @ Theophrastus
    Longevity with a fixed retiring age (e.g. from my birth until i reached NPA) or one rising slower than life expectancy for 20-year-olds is a certain killer for the welfare state. The large majority of NHS costs are for the last year of life – whenever that occurs – and the first few weeks.
    The additional cost of a pension from, say, 75 to 76 is much greater than the extra discount of the NHS cost if you put the start of decline at 75 instead of 74.

  62. BiND

    That C S Lewis quote is bilge. Life without the rule of law – which is a necessary condition of liberty – is far worse than living with moral busybodies, who can be ignored.

    I ignore them all the time. Particularly the ones who try to tell me that drinking half a bottle of claret daily will ruin my health, when I’m in my 60s, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, eat well and take no medication.

  63. John77:
    Agreed, longevity is a big problem for pension provision. As for NHS costs, the final year of life is expensive, but the cost of managing chronic obesity-related conditions like diabetes is rising very fast.

  64. But, in so far as the lectures and bansturbatory fantasies encourage people to take more responsibility for their own health, NHS expenditure will be less than it would otherwise be.

    That begs the question that the advice being handed down is scientifically sound, and not bullshit plucked from thin air like the safe alcohol limits and 5-a-day campaign.

    Also, any increase in personal responsibility helps to undermine the socialist project of reducing us all to dependence on the state.

    I don’t see how statist wankers calling for things to be banned and trying to force the underclasses to eat middle-class foods helps with that.

  65. “That begs the question that the advice being handed down is scientifically sound, and not bullshit plucked from thin air like the safe alcohol limits and 5-a-day campaign.”

    Some of the advice is sound; some isn’t. But, in general, eating more fresh fruit and veg, not smoking, not binge drinking, taking exercise, eating less sugar, etc means you will be healthier –and less of a cost to your fellow taxpayers.

    “I don’t see how statist wankers calling for things to be banned and trying to force the underclasses to eat middle-class foods helps with that.”

    You’ve shifted from “advice” to banning and “trying to force”. Advice can be ignored or rejected, but it can and does encourage some people to take responsibility for their own health.

    If the price of some reduction in future health expenditure and taxation is some nagging advice that I can choose to ignore, I’ll go with the advice.

  66. “…the underclasses to eat middle-class foods helps with that.”

    You do seem a little obsessed with class. In England, the healthy diet eaten by many middle class people is essentially the diet of a Mediterranean peasant. People, not foods, belong to social classes.

  67. BIS,

    > Far from it. Cuisines are a response to what’s available & where, within the constraints of how.

    A response by what? Amoebas?

    It’s made up by humans. It may be made up in response to various factors, but it’s still made up.

    Cymru,

    > his braised sprouts and bacon (braised with the fried bacon fat and butter) is heavenly and certainly not healthy.

    Cooking in bacon fat and butter is not unhealthy.

  68. Moral busybodies can be ignored right up to the point where they manage to ban something you do or like, at which point you suddenly realise they are a problem after all.

  69. Theo,

    I believe Tim and others have run the numbers, and the cost to the NHS of obesity doesn’t come within a mile of the cost of old age. You could of course refute that by running the numbers yourself and pointing out the errors, but not, I think, by repeating that it just doesn’t seem right to you.

    Personally, I don’t think it matters, because this idea that’s taken hold that some people cost the NHS too much money is poisonous, and one of the single biggest problems with the NHS. I would have a lot more support for an NHS that stuck to its original principle that everyone was entitled to decent healthcare than the current shit which has been taken over by people who think that some people — smokers, for a start — have got it coming. So the cost argument, for me, is immaterial, and I oppose the very idea of the thinking behind it. But, if you are going to join the health fascists in bringing it up, it’s wrong.

    > Some of the advice is sound; some isn’t. But, in general, eating more fresh fruit and veg, not smoking, not binge drinking, taking exercise, eating less sugar, etc means you will be healthier –and less of a cost to your fellow taxpayers.

    Veg is pretty-much nutritionally neutral. It’s filler. The fact that you’ve put “fruit and veg” in one phrase, as if they’re one thing, shows another error: you follow it up with “less sugar”: fruit is full of sugar, and your pancreas doesn’t make any distinction between healthy sugar from fruit and unhealthy sugar from humbugs. “Binge drinking” has been redefined to mean “drinking” — which all the actual research shows is good for you.

    So you’re right: some advice is sound, some isn’t — and you can’t tell the difference. And neither can our lords & masters.

    The number of lives shortened by the anti-fat crusade of the last forty years runs into the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. That was based on what we were assured was scientifically sound advice, absolutely rock-solid fact. And it was utter fucking bollocks and killed people. I take the view that, since anyone who ignored the health fascists for my entire life ended up healthier than those who listened, we should ignore them. It’s baffling that our lords & masters can’t grasp that.

    And noteworthy that some of the same people who gave that lethal advice — who successfully pushed some of it into legislation — believe legal action should be taken against people who propagate bad science.

    > You’ve shifted from “advice” to banning and “trying to force”.

    As has the state.

  70. S2, I second BiC’s applause for your comment.

    I had occasion to take my mother to the nutritionist at the local hospital this week and waiting for her outside I noticed a poster on healthy eating, it was exactly the same old shit about cutting down on fatty foods and eating five a day. The same poster had a section entitled, ‘why you should trust a nutritionist’, apparently they’ve got qualifications and stuff. Amusingly the illustrated pie chart showing what a healthy diet should consist of included a whopping portion of carbohydrates, someone needs to get these people back on message.

  71. The huge wodge of carb in every meal became such dogma that it even infected endocrinology until the last few years. Insanity.

    (I initially typed “carb” as “crab”. That would be an interesting diet.)

  72. You do seem a little obsessed with class.

    That’s because the hectoring comes across as pure snobbishness. It’s never about what *they* eat, it’s what *those over there* eat. And when you ask exactly who the *those over there* are, you find they’re the lower classes.

    In England, the healthy diet eaten by many middle class people is essentially the diet of a Mediterranean peasant.

    I’m not interested in comparing the diets of middle class English with Italian peasants. I’m talking about the complaints coming from the English middle classes about the diets of the English lower classes.

  73. S2

    “…the cost to the NHS of obesity doesn’t come within a mile of the cost of old age.”

    Obesity is still a cost – a huge and growing cost to the NHS, leading inter alia to diabetes and its many complications (blindness, amputations, physio…). Longevity and pension costs are another issue. I should not have been sidetracked.

    “… this idea that’s taken hold that some people cost the NHS too much money is poisonous, and one of the single biggest problems with the NHS. I would have a lot more support for an NHS that stuck to its original principle that everyone was entitled to decent healthcare than the current shit which has been taken over by people who think that some people — smokers, for a start — have got it coming.”

    There has always been rationing in the NHS, and some conditions have always been given priority over others. Always.

    “So the cost argument, for me, is immaterial,”

    So there should never be any budgetary limitations on the NHS?

    “and I oppose the very idea of the thinking behind it.”

    You are beginning to sound like the Murphatollah. 😉

    “But, if you are going to join the health fascists in bringing it up, it’s wrong.”

    Again, rather Murphy. If there’s a budget, there are constraints on what conditions can be treated and how. The health fascists did not invent these constraints, though I grant you they try to take advantage of them. (‘Prevention is better than cure’ goes back to Hippocrates.) Rationing is a feature of all socialist systems, and the NHS is a socialist health system. Which is why we need an insurance-based health system, where those who live unhealthily are charged accordingly – as with life insurance. The NHS has no incentives for people to try to be healthy. I fail to see why I should take part of the financial responsibility for those who refuse to behave prudently.

    “Veg is pretty-much nutritionally neutral. It’s filler.”

    That’s wrong. As well as fibre – which helps prevent constipation and bowel cancer – veg (and fruit) contains vitamins, minerals, trace elements, anti-oxidants, etc. You can live a healthy life on a vegetarian, even a vegan, diet — which would be impossible if veg was simply or largely a “filler”, wouldn’t it?

    “… fruit is full of sugar, and your pancreas doesn’t make any distinction between healthy sugar from fruit and unhealthy sugar from humbugs.”

    Wrong, again. Most fruit contains some sugar, but the sugar is mainly (unrefined, obviously) fructose, which is a mono-saccharide. Sucrose is a di-saccharide: essentially, the molecule is a combination of glucose and fructose. Sucrose – particularly in its refined form – is absorbed far faster than fructose, and leads to bigger and more sudden insulin spikes. Fructose has a lower glycaemic index. Which is why my diabetic brother-in-law can eat a bowl of fresh fruit salad, but he can’t have sucrose in his tea.

    ‘“Binge drinking” has been redefined to mean “drinking” — which all the actual research shows is good for you.’

    Agreed.

    “I take the view that, since anyone who ignored the health fascists for my entire life ended up healthier than those who listened, we should ignore them.”

    At best, that’s anecdata; ar worst, induction from one instance. You are free to ignore their advice, if you wish. I try to make a rational judgement on their individual claims. In an insurance-based health system, I might have to pay slightly higher premiums because I believe that drinking half a bottle of wine daily will not harm me. That would be my choice and my cost, and I wouldn’t be inflicting my costs on others.

    Expert advice may be irritating; and, though provisional, is worth having. Banning things is rather different and is generally to be avoided. I favour the legalisation of all recreational drugs; but, if drugs were legalised, I’d want to see expert advice published on the risks of particular drugs and doses. The users could then make up their own minds. And with an insurance-based health system…

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