Wonder how stupid the recommendations will actually be

An updated government app will use barcodes to encourage families to switch to healthier food as part of efforts to tackle Britain’s child obesity crisis.

The new feature, announced on Monday as part of the Better Health campaign, will scan selected shopping items and suggest alternatives with less saturated fat, sugar or salt. Families using the NHS Food Scanner app will also be shown a “Good Choice” badge for items which could help improve their diet, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Depends upon how infested the design team has been with woke ideas about “ultraprocessed food” I guess. Just for funsies, if anyone sees the list do let us know so we can all have a look.

Obvious really

UK obesity plan will fail without action on unhealthy food – report

The UK’s obesity plan is based on the prodnoses being able to define what we eat. So, if we don;t allow the prodnoses to define what we eat the plan will fail, won’t it?

There is a time when we just tell ’em to fuck off

Prue Leith could stop mentioning calories on The Great British Bake Off after food campaigners accused her of “triggering” viewers.

The presenter often passes judgement on contestant’s work with the comments “it is worth the calories” or “it is not worth the calories”, but campaign group Beat alleged that this can be upsetting for viewers with eating disorders.

About now I’d guess.

We’re a couple of generations into an interesting experiment. There are no mass or immediate dangers to us. Everybody – to any statistically sensible definition – gets to eat, have a roof over head, change of clothes, medical treatment and on. There’s no war threatening us. Tragedy happens, sure, but it’s personal and individual – cancer, a car crash.

Yet there seems to be a need to have something to worry about – a constant perhaps of human nature. So, we have ever more people “having concerns” over entire piffle.

Preserve the old varieties, sure

The mission started when Joan Roca, and his younger brothers Josep and Jordi, heard Montserrat Fontané, 86, tell an interviewer how she wanted to revisit her family’s old country home and revisit the dishes she grew up on in Catalonia’s La Garrotxa mountain region.

Yep, OK, madelines of my youth and all that.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 75 per cent of crop varieties were lost in the 20th century.


A handful of varieties now make up most of the food eaten in the world today, and millions of people could see their main source of nutrition wiped out by a solitary instance of disease or rot.

The brothers’ search to relocate old varieties such as the Olot black turnip and white aubergine once typical in La Garrotxa is recorded in a documentary which is released online on Wednesday.

The brothers hope the film, called Sembrando el Futuro, or Sowing the Future, will kick-start a global movement among chefs to save dying crop varieties to maintain biodiversity, encourage the use of local produce to reduce transport and rediscover lost flavours.

All is fine except that eat local to reduce transport. Because the transport is a trivial portion of the emissions from the food chain. So trivial that it gets entirely lost in calculations over greenhouse and forced, or sunlight grown, or extra feed needed or just grass fed, or even what form of transport is used to get it back from the shops.

A richer society most certainly can afford to not worry quite so wholly much about yield and sacrifice a bit in order to gain a bit more variety of cultivars. Which, if you look around us or the grocery stores is exactly what is being done.

It’s that march through the institutions again

Claridge’s three Michelin star chef Daniel Humm has dramatically parted ways with the Mayfair hotel in a row over his attempt to give the restaurant a vegan makeover.

The chef was lobbying for a meat-free future at the helm of Davies and Brook, the five-star hotel’s prestigious restaurant and his first outlet in London.

Talks were under way to overhaul the establishment’s menu, famed for its foie gras, roasted venison and dry-aged duck, after the 45-year-old axed meat from his “world-best” New York restaurant to make it fully vegan.

Claridge’s told The Telegraph on Friday that its culinary offering was under review, “including the possible introduction of a fully plant-based menu”.

But on Friday night the row came to a head as Mr Humm confirmed he was leaving the hotel after just two years, insisting that “the future for me is plant-based”.

It’s that old thing again. Sure, you want to do it a new way? Go do it a new way. But why insist on trying to takeover the previous infrastructure instead of building anew?

Old habits die hard, eh?

Three people have been arrested in southern Italy after a police raid on a cannabis farm led to the discovery of hundreds of dead and alive protected dormice apparently being eaten by local mafia as part of ritual peace-making dinners.

On top of 235 caracasses stuffed in a freezer, police found several cages of live dormice that were being fattened up for the kill. Three people were arrested on suspicion of capturing and slaughtering a protected species.

Despite being illegal to hunt or eat, dormice are a popular delicacy in parts of southern Italy and some restaurants serve them up in secret, keeping their fluffy tails intact so that they are distinguishable from other mice.

We have recipes from the area that are at least 2,000 years old.

And, of course, if they’re raising them for consumption then they’re hardly damaging the wild population, are they? Sorta like saying stop eating cows in order to save the aurochs.

I doubt it really

On two points:

It’s no secret that beer and blue cheese go hand in hand – but a new study reveals how deep their roots run in Europe, where workers at a salt mine in Austria were gorging on both up to 2,700 years ago.

Scientists made the discovery by analysing samples of human excrement found at the heart of the Hallstatt mine in the Austrian Alps.

Frank Maixner, a microbiologist at the Eurac Research Institute in Bolzano, Italy, who was the lead author of the report, said he was surprised to learn salt miners more than two millennia ago were advanced enough to “use fermentation intentionally.”

“This is very sophisticated in my opinion,” Maixner said. “This is something I did not expect at that time.”

The finding was the earliest evidence to date of cheese ripening in Europe, according to researchers.

And while alcohol consumption is certainly well documented in older writings and archaeological evidence, the salt miners’ faeces contained the first molecular evidence of beer consumption on the continent at that time.

They talk about “enjoying” blue cheese which is clearly impossible. But more than that they talk about beer, which I think is unlikely. Ale I would have thought – non-hopped, d’ye see?

What a clever idea

No, this one has legs:

A simple bowl of curry is at the centre of the latest row in a long-running territorial dispute between Japan and the Koreas.

Media in North and South Korea reacted angrily after an online media report about a seafood curry sold in Japan that includes mounds of rice shaped to resemble the Takeshima islands, which Koreans refer to as Dokdo.

The rocky islets, which lie roughly equidistant between the two countries in the Japan Sea – or the East Sea according to Koreans – are administered by South Korea, but Japan insists they are an integral part of its territory.

Not that East Asian islands will gain much traction over here. But the idea – shape the food into that of some contested area, watch the nationalists pile in to eat. Fabulous advertising.

The place in Derry with the mashed spuds shaped as the 6 counties. The Aquitaine shaped pork chop perhaps. Falklands shaped steak in Buenos Aires. The possibilities are endless. Bonzer idea.

Well, umm, yes


Children who eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day have the best mental health, according to the first study of its kind.

Higher intake is associated with better mental wellbeing among secondary school pupils, and a nutritious breakfast and lunch is linked to emotional wellbeing in pupils across all ages, the research shows.

It’s just that yesterday the same paper reported that 70 years worth of public health statements on nutrition are blindingly wrong.

The grave effects of this relatively recent departure from time-honoured eating habits comes as no surprise to those of us who never swallowed government “healthy eating” advice in the first place, largely on evolutionary grounds.

Is mother nature a psychopath? Why would she design foods to shorten the lifespan of the human race?

And time is vindicating. This bankrupt postwar nutrition paradigm is being knocked for six, time and again, by up-to-date, high quality research evidence that reasserts how healthy traditional ingredients and eating habits are.

On missing the point

To me, nothing better makes the case for the essential nothingness of pasta than the evident need to titivate the stuff by presenting it variously as worms, squashed worms, wider squashed worms, frizzy worms, small-bore tubes, large-bore tubes, pouches and bow-ties. It’s all basically flour and water, and a crafty way of delivering cheap starch with a lick of sauce and calling it a meal. The whole thing is an Italian confidence trick played upon English class-anxiety, and the reason you can’t dislike pasta is the reason you can’t really like it either: it’s the culinary equivalent of a blank page. Give me potatoes every time, and shape them into bosoms, swans or butterflies if you must.

Actually, it is like potatoes. Which we produce mashed, roast, baked, chipped, creamed, dauphinoise and so on. Each form being right for what it accompanies. So with pasta. Some shapes are for hearty soups, some for clear bouillons. Some sauces stick better to certain shapes – heavier sauces generally require flatter, tagliatelle not spaghetti. And so on and on.

Roast beef, gravy and chips? Grouse and baked? Just no. So too farfalle bolognese, or lasagne alla vongole…..

Just a little thing

Some bird’s waffling along in The Guardian about vegan cheese. At which point, why?

We don’t mess with cheese to make it taste like tofu. So why mess with tofu to make it look like cheese?

Sure, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, whatever. But why not enjoy each food for what it is? Why the replicas?

Well, other than an admission that tofu is disgusting that is.

This is simply glorious

The spate of resignations was the culmination of a bitter row about whether veganism – a word coined in 1944 by the society’s founder, Donald Watson – was actually cultural appropriation of foods and traditions from Africa and Asia. It even resulted in one resigning trustee accusing the society of being institutionally racist.

In the summer, the Vegan Society commissioned Ijeoma Omambala, QC, to investigate claims the then vice chair, Eshe Kiama Zuri, had posted racist comments online.

Victim poker:

Zuri’s resignation letter states they had been “naive” joining the council in 2019 as a “multiply marginalised trustee, being black, queer, disabled and working class” accusing the charity of being “institutionally racist”.

Probably the absence of lard in the diet that makes them all so mad.

Err, yes?

The premium paid by shoppers for gluten-free versions of staple foods could increase in the coming months as the soaring cost of ingredients such as rice flour casts a shadow over the “free from” aisle in supermarkets.

These specialist foods already cost a lot more than mainstream products, making any price rise a source of concern, particularly for people who follow a gluten-free diet out of medical necessity. The scale of the problem means some firms could opt to rewrite recipes with cheaper ingredients.

This is what the price system does, is the very purpose of it. Supply shocks are transmitted to consumers thereby changing demand, demand changes are transmitted to suppliers thereby changing supply.


Polly discovers self-solving problems

Less niche is the alarming 17% rise in food prices: Ian Wright, of the Food and Drink Federation, tells me Brexit costs and obstructions have sent commodity prices soaring, and those are now working their way on to the shelves. The unexpected £2bn fall in UK food and drink exports to the EU in just the first quarter of this year is, Wright tells me, “no teething problem, but very real and sustained. Smaller firms have stopped exporting”, overwhelmed by the new obstacles.

Imported food rises in price. Exports of food fall. Seems to work, doesn’t it?

Babies eat 100% ultraprocessed food!

Children’s diets made up of 65pc ultra-processed food, study finds

Worth considering. Mother eats whatever, then processes that into milk. Thus babies are eating 100% ultraprocessed food.

Horrors, eh?

Those who ate the most ultra-processed foods throughout childhood and adolescence were found to have a BMI 1.18 points higher than those who ate the least by the age of 24.

They also had 1.53 per cent more body fat and, on average, weighed over eight pounds more.

And isn’t that glorious? Given that the historical problem has been to provide children with enough nutrition that they don’t starve to death then that looks like one other problem that has been solved by modernity.

Which is, actually, what the complaint is about. There are those out there just not quite sure about the merits of modernity.

Examples of ultra-processed foods include chocolates, ice cream, biscuits, packaged bread, breakfast cereals and jars of pasta sauce.

Such horrors, that kids might eat boiled tomatoes.

Seems sensible enough

Cllr Andy Boddington has been on the Southern Shropshire planning committee for seven years.

He confesses to feeling hamstrung by the lack of policy guidance on intensive poultry units in either the county’s local plan, or the government’s national planning policy framework.

“It’s really frustrating that we don’t have the tools in our planning toolbox to get to grips with applications,” he says.

“I think there’s a culture in the planning department of saying, ‘Oh, it’s another chicken shed – let’s approve it’. We no longer have a planning machine, we have a permitting regime. It’s not about strategic planning at all.”

The strategic planning of the economy should be done by county councillors, should it?

A bird costs less than a pint: welcome to Britain’s poultry capital

There is a simple answer to that of course. Make pints cheaper.

This is damned impressive

It was unclear why the wild Asian elephants, a protected species in China, strayed from the Xishuangbanna national nature reserve in Yunnan province.

But since April, the animals have embarked on a 500km journey, closely monitored by residents and authorities, with hundreds of people mobilised to ensure public safety.

On Tuesday, Yunnan authorities said the herd was 20km from the provincial capital of Kunming, home to millions of people.

Since mid-April, the elephants have wrecked around 56 hectares of crops, causing an estimated 6.8m yuan ($1.07m) in losses, CCTV said.

What the hell does anyone grow that’s worth $20,000 a hectare?

How hipster

“When I’m at home, I’m busy. I don’t want to cook. I have a small apartment. I don’t want to get the kitchen dirty,” he said. “The way I cook at home is really inspired by these dishes that are in the book. They’re super easy to make, for the most part. You can pretty much shop at your local grocer for most of the ingredients.”

Sounds pretty good.

“The fried chicken in the book has an African-inspired marinade. It’s got some habanero. It has a nice spice to it. It’s coated in tapioca starch, and it’s fried in avocado oil.”

Local grocers in the US have sure changed since I was last there. As many as two brands of hot dog used to be the height of sophistication.

The Great Marmite Shortage

I’ve been ever so slightly pissed off about not being able to get Marmite, that essential part of good living. I had been thinking that it was just this Brexity thing – and so it’s a small pain for me as part of that giant leap for Britain.

Then someone pointed out that the pubs have been closed. Beer production is down. Ah, yes, as Marmite is simply boiled brewer’s yeast that does make sense, doesn’t it?

Still leaving that toast a little naked but at least I understand now.