Modern Food

We all need it.

We would die without it.

If you read science fiction written 50 years ago, we were all supposed to be living on pills by now.

Instead, in Western society, food has polarised. At one end of the scale there are fast food and pre-packed meals full of artificial ingredients and preservatives. At the other end we now have food as art, innovative cuisine combining flavours and ingredients unheard of twenty or thirty years ago. Entire reality television shows are devoted to this type of food (without mentioning any names).

I want to say here that I don't get the point of combining food and television. To me food is about eating, which means it should taste good, smell good, hopefully look good, and be nutritious. A pleasant side effect is the social aspect - nothing beats sitting down to a Sunday lunch with a group of friends and family. Where can television possibly fit into the above?

Fashion has influenced how food is served and eaten (for those who could afford any alternatives) for centuries. As an example, dining "à la russe" was introduced to France early in the nineteenth century. Before that period all food was brought to the table at the same time. Downton Abbey recently reinforced the idea of siting down to a place setting consisting of several different knives and forks for different purposes.

What we eat has changed as well. Meat was the staple food of our forbears. Vegetables were considered optional, and diets must have been seriously unhealthy. Much has been written already, and by people far better qualified than I am on the subject, on the history of nutrition.

My purpose in writing this blog is to bemoan the demise of good food. Good food is  nutritious, doesn't take too long to prepare, doesn't need highly technical equipment, and, most importantly, is good to eat. Food like a roast leg of lamb with vegetables, or spring veg soup, or apple crumble. A spag bol cooked with herbs fresh from the garden. Bread made with nothing but the essentials and eaten fresh from the oven.

Someone once said you can feed yourself well by never going up the aisles in the supermarket. I would like to take that one step further, and say that you can feed yourself well by never going to a supermarket at all. Good local butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers are making a comeback in my area, as the supermarkets sell more and more over-processed "food" and stale fruit and vegetables.

I notice one half of the duopoly that controls Australia's supermarkets has signed up a famous television chef to flog their "fresh food". Seems like a perfect partnership to me.

JR

PS I just found this in The Guardian. It says much the same thing as my blog. Good to know I am not the only person who sees grocery shopping this way!

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