Written by Frederica


Politicians love to lecture the populace. They believe (in their smug arrogance) that the people are like children and need to be guided every step of the way through their lives by intrusive governance.  They preach their ‘wisdom’ from the ‘Olympian Heights’, imagining in their delusion, that the populace will hang gratefully upon their every word!  One of their favourite lectures relates to food.

“You are all too fat”!  “Too much junk food”!  “Too many take-aways”!  It is a never ending sanctimonious ‘finger wagging’ exposition on how ignorant we all our about our nutrition. They tell us to ‘eat less of this or more of that’.

One of the most irritating of their lectures is about the effects of our food consumption upon ‘climate change’.  “Stop adding to global warming by eating all those bad ‘atmosphere polluting’ animals.  Save the planet”!  When I hear one of their favourite expressions ‘eat a more plant based diet’, I am amused and I do so wish I could answer back!

My biology mistress once began a class lesson with the phrase “All our food comes from plants!”.  We looked round at each other disbelievingly.  Then someone piped up “But what about when we eat animals”?  She flung the question straight back.  “What do cattle eat”?  “Grass and hay ma’am”!  “Exactly!”.  Whatever food item we proposed, she was able to illustrate, irrefutably, the relevant food chain showing, absolutely, that all our food does indeed come from plants!

That same mistress also gave us an unforgettable lesson in food hygiene and the prevention of the spread of disease-causing bacteria.  One day she laid out a new experiment.  A dish containing a piece of meat was set up beside a large bell jar.  The meat was left unprotected for a few hours then covered with the bell jar that sealed it off from the room.  A few days later we were horrified to see the meat crawling with maggots and a few days later still we entered the lab to be met with the horrific sight of the bell jar black with bluebottles!  As she had, in the intervening period, illustrated to us the life cycle of the fly; the ways it would crawl over any surface in its quest for a food source (they weren’t at all fussy!) and the way it would regurgitate fluid from its body to soften any new food source before ingesting, we were suitably and eternally horrified at the unsanitary ways of this insect and the need to protect our food from its predations at all costs!

The town planners never seem to refuse permission for another fast-food outlet. They spring up almost overnight in the way that mushrooms used to do when animals grazed in fields that were not contaminated to saturation point with chemical pesticides or fertilisers. The ubiquitous ‘golden arches’ hamburger joints are also now allowed to take up prime sites everywhere.

Even the oldest and most quaint of villages has its share of Indian; Chinese; fried chicken and pizza establishments.  What used to be small, independent, butchers; bakers; greengrocer/fruiterers and grocer/cheesemongers (plus, of course, the old original fish and chip shops – often also selling fresh fish) are now a selection of boring and soul-less shopfronts.  From these establishments emanate strange and often unappetising aromas and a plethora of discarded, unsightly packaging.

I included fish and chip shops in the above list in the interest of fair discussion.  Yet I am loath to do so because fish and chips has been almost uniquely British and has been with us for such a very long time.  From my early childhood the ‘chippy’ has been a much loved feature of the ‘corner shop’ sites close to many of our homes.  I imagine that even then some families ate too many portions of it in a week.  However, it was not a cheap meal even then.  Therefore most households did cook for themselves at that time.

Cookery programmes featuring ‘celebrity chefs’ abound on TV.  Even the streaming channels seem to host them.  People watch avidly.  Yet few of their audiences seem to know how to cook!  If they did know how to cook there would be far less demand for todays ‘junk’ that is full of additives, preservatives and calories.  Though I notice that our current Health Secretary is not averse to sending out for ‘posh’ takeaways for himself and his staff for ‘working lunches’!

The substance of my grumpy-old-woman gripe in this instance is that it is politicians who have  caused the appalling state of the Nation’s cookery skills. They sounded the death knell for cookery classes and domestic science skills being routinely taught in schools.  They stopped teaching the Nation’s children how to cook and to learn nutrition skills.  So began the downward spiral into nutritional ignorance that is extant today.

As with many of my generation, I had a Mother who could cook very well.  There was much less imported food then.  There was also less money available for the kitchen budget, Therefore, most of what we ate was seasonally produced in the UK: home grown in our gardens or the cheaper cuts of meat requiring long slow cooking.  Even the rabbit that I had thought was a pet disappeared one day, having been despatched for my Mother by the local butcher (who was also my godfather).  It re-appeared in the form of rabbit casserole.  Being young and sentimental, I took rather an exception to this action.  For many years afterward I was averse to rabbit meat in any form.

I was required to help in the kitchen and run errands for my Mother to the local shops for meat and groceries from a list furnished by herself.  Thus, when I began domestic science lessons at school aged 11, I was disconcerted to find that the first lesson consisted of how to make tea and toast and how to sweep a floor!  Small beer for me!  I had passed that milestone long ago.  But things improved.  The first proper dish I ever cooked at that school and took home for the family tea was a cheese and potato pie.  I went on into higher education still taking cookery and domestic science lessons.

I am given to understand that cookery lessons are given in some schools today.  I am not sure how extensive these may be unless new schools are once again being equipped with cookery facilities.  My contention is that politicians have once again been responsible for a problem in society for which they now feel they have the moral right to blame the people!


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