Watch out for the food police!


As a politician with a broadly libertarian outlook, I’m getting increasingly frustrated by the government’s assumption that it’s entitled to tell us what to eat and drink.  I think it’s a fundamental right of all grown-ups in their right mind to decide for themselves what they choose to put into their mouths.  By all means let the government offer good advice (if it can’t help itself).  But it should stop seeking to persecute those who exercise choices other than those approved by the powers-that-be.

We’ve already seen cigarettes demonised, even though a fifth or more of our fellow citizens choose to smoke.  We have revolting pictures of diseased organs on cigarette packets.  How long will it be before we go on to mandatory illustrations of diseased livers on bottles of Mateus Rosé?  The government’s recommended maximum daily alcohol consumption seems designed by kill-joy puritans and abstainers who might be welcome in Saudi Arabia, but less so in Swadlincote.  Moreover there seems to be little science behind their recommendations — it’s just finger-in-the-air stuff, applying the precautionary principle to achieve the lowest possible recommendation just in case there might be a problem.

The government’s advice is undermined by the constant changes in what’s supposed to be good for you.  One week, red wine (in moderation) is good for the heart.  Next week, it’s not.  We’re told that Omega 3 fatty acids are good for joints, good for the heart, good for the brain (fish is “brain-food”, as my old Mother used to say).  But now, we’re told that new studies suggest otherwise.  Statins are good for you, and we should all take them.  No we shouldn’t.  For many patients the risk of side effects (they now say) exceeds the potential cardiac benefit.  Everyone over forty should take a daily 75mg aspirin to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.  Or should they?  They’re now saying that for patients with no cardiac risk indicators, aspirin may create a risk of haemorrhage that exceeds any potential benefit.  Come on, guys.  Make your minds up.  And get your facts right before you get into mass medication.

When I was a lot younger, carbohydrates caused obesity.  Cut out the bread, the potatoes, the pasta, we were told.  Then the advice changed.  It was fat.  Cut out the fat, and all will be well.  I don’t think they ever got round to pillorying protein, but it so often comes in association with fat (those well-marbled steaks) that it was guilty by association.  First it was all fats.  Then it was some fats.  Then I lost the will to live (though not the will to eat well-marbled steaks).

Refined sugar (“pure, white and deadly”) has been targeted for many years, and certainly the huge amounts of sugar now found in soft drinks and prepared foods are shocking and unhealthy.  Tomato ketchup is virtually custard, and some children’s breakfast “cereals” are more like confectionery.  Then there’s confectionery.

But at least fruit is OK, isn’t it?  We were told to eat five portions a day (or seven) of fruit and veg.  For the whole of my lifetime it’s been an undisputed dietary fact that fruit is good for you.  Of course that doesn’t mean that fruit juice and smoothies are necessarily good.  It might take you a quarter of an hour to eat a pound of apples.  Turn it into purée and you can eat it in five (with custard, if you dare).  Squeeze it into juice, and you can knock it back in seconds.  You get practically all of the sugar, but none of the healthy pith and fibre.  Smoothies, of course, may well contain other bad stuff.

But whole apples and oranges and bananas are good, aren’t they?  Suddenly this fundamental tenet of nutrition policy is being turned on its head.  If you cherished the notion that refined white sugar — sucrose — is bad, but that fruit sugars — fructose — are less bad, they’re now telling us that each is as bad as the other.  To address the current diabetes epidemic, we’re told to stop eating fruit (or at least cut down).  I’m sorry.  I don’t buy it.  I can’t change the habits of a lifetime.  Fresh, whole fruit is good, and stays good in my book.  At least it’s a healthier dessert than sugar-laden sticky toffee pudding, or a Rocky Road.

So what can we eat?  Well bread seems to be OK (so long as you’re not gluten-intolerant).  But don’t put butter or margarine on it (that’s fat).  Or peanut butter.  Don’t put Marmite (salt).  Don’t use jam or Cooper’s Oxford marmalade (sugar — and fruit).  After that, there’s “non-white vegetables”.  I guess they mean spinach and carrots.

I’ve had enough of the nonsense.  I’ll leave the veggies (and the bunnies) to over-dose on carrots.  For myself, I’ll eat the bunnies.








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25 Responses to Watch out for the food police!

  1. Anne says:

    Is “WATER” safe to drink Roger?

    Re “Drink “WATER” rather than “Fruit Juice”

    Sound advice today from certain people,
    To drink “Water” rather than “Juice”,
    Put a glass full on the ‘Dining Room’ Table,
    Though “water” is best, isn’t always the truth!
    For is drinking water from our taps
    As pure as it once used to be?
    For the make-up of added fluoride,
    ‘Tis doubtful it is good for you or me?

    Yet in only two EU Country’s
    Out of all the now twenty-eight,
    Deliberately add delicious Fluoride?
    And as such, surely sealed our fate.
    Those two are Ireland and our England
    Now why do you think is that?
    The same “strengths” for children and grown-ups
    Yet not to EU Rules have they met.

    Perhaps “Juice” has too much sugar?
    Or is it ‘Aspartame’, in there in stead?
    For I avoid all drinks with Aspartame
    For its ‘ingredients’ I too have read.
    We can choose which “juice” for our children,
    Decide which is the ‘right’ one for them,
    But with fluoride in our water
    It is to our own Governments we condemn.

    For I, along with many others,
    Know the ingredients that make up that fluoride,
    Yet we cannot remove it from our taps,
    And it is no longer “pure” water, we find.

    • Me_Again says:

      Is tea safe to drink then Anne? Camellia sinensis L accumulates fluoride compounds like politicians lie, copiously. whilst the EU tends not to fluoridate the US still does and since one of the commonest reasons for child admission is dental abscess it sort of makes sense to keep fluoridating. Maybe if we stopped food manufacturers putting so much sugar in everything we could stop fluoridating?
      You are spot on with aspartame, apparently it can give side effects which mimic multiple sclerosis!

  2. PJ says:

    Hi Roger, the ‘decided’ figures for alcoholic intake on a daily basis were literally plucked out of the air many years ago and sneaked into many equations whilst the intiial uproar about smoking was in full cry. There was never, ever any sound evidence that 24 units per 7 day week was too much or too little intake and there is an extremely logical reason for that my friend-everyoner is different! Many years ago I knew an Irishman that drank 12 pints of Guiness every night of the week after work but was never drunk! Another chap would consume 5 pints of bitter and be falling all over the place (so we used to steer him out of the pub after his fourth!). It’s all down to each individuals metabolism Roger. They only came up with 1/2 pint being = to 1 unit so as to ‘big-up’ the figures for necessary effect on anti-drink mobsters & dumbed down MPs (much like the anti tobacco mob did with the non existent dangers of SHS). So, whatever fantastic graphs, stats and all the other rubbish is produced Roger you can be sure that it was all based on fantasy island stuff!
    By the way, congratulations on being the “Shangri-La” in europe-get us out please Roger!

  3. Richard111 says:

    I think we have an ‘agenda’ here. The guvmint wants the UK population to be the healthiest ever so the NHS can cope with all the illegal immigrants.

    • catalanbrian says:

      What nonsense! Illegal immigrants are not entitled to free NHS treatment, other than emergency treatment in respect of a life threatening condition. And in any “illegal immigrants” are part of the UK population, so would themselves benefit from these government measures!

      • ian wragg says:

        GP’s are not allowed to turn away illegal immigrants and A & E is swamped by foreigners every time you go there.
        Everyone in the world who pitches up gets free treatment and the government doesn’t try to recover costs. The daily flight from Lagos is named the Baby Special as at least 1 Nigerian each day goes straight to maternity from Heathrow. You really should catch up.

      • Jane Davies says:

        I don’t think Richard was being serious Brian!

      • Me_Again says:

        Having worked in the NHS for some years Brian I can tell quite candidly that most opportunities to charge people are not even considered, not pursued and not mentioned -not necessarily in that order. Blatant abuse is ignored because it means paperwork or because the doctors that refer the patients to hospital already know that they are not entitled to treatment but don’t care, it would be a brave/ rare/ foolish/ unusual consultant who even started to ask questions.

        Anyway NEWSFLASH! I don’t think he was actually being serious Bri.

      • catalanbrian says:

        I know that he was not being serious, but it was a nasty little remark and I thought that it needed responding to. Yes I do understand the situation in the NHS, which is not satisfactory, but this is being addressed by the current government, and hopefully any misuse will be kept to a minimum in the future with proper charges levied when they are due.

        I also doubt the veracity of Mr Wragg’s tale of NIgerians flying into London to have babies, with “at least one Nigerian a day going straight to maternity from Heathrow”. I dare say that it sometimes happens, but I doubt it is one a day, and perhaps those Nigerians are full time legal residents of the UK anyway. Sounds rather like a Daily Mail/Express/Sun scarem tale to me.

      • Me_Again says:

        Possibly for the first time ever, I concur with all you say and hope very much the government get a grip on this waste of taxpayers money. It may only be a drop in the ocean but it is us who pay for it one way or another.

      • David says:

        I have read that the instruction to treat all comers in GP surgeries was sent out last year..
        I recon guideline for then referring on to hospitals will be loosely adhered to, or not at all

  4. Me_Again says:

    I agree with much of the sentiment Roger. My grandmother was fond of saying ‘everything in moderation but food, drink and tobacco producers prefer addicts to moderates.

    I would like to point to an inconsistency in that you indicate it is wrong to demonise smoking but ok to demonise the ‘sugar’ people?

    .”….and certainly the huge amounts of sugar now found in soft drinks and prepared foods are shocking and unhealthy. Tomato ketchup is virtually custard, and some children’s breakfast “cereals” are more like confectionery.”

  5. Roger Helmer says:

    I don’t see any inconsistency, Me_Again. Sugar is bad for you, cigarettes are bad for you. Both facts. But I don’t want to demonise cigarettes, and I don’t want to demonise sugar. I don’t want diseased lungs on cigarette packets, and I don’t want warnings of gross obesity and diabetes on sugar packets.

    • Me_Again says:

      OK. But you left out the ‘cigarettes are bad for you’ bit so it appeared you were having a go at sugar but not ciggys.
      But I do agree regarding the disgusting pictures. Addicts don’t care what they’re lungs are like, they’ve already rationalised that it won’t be them that suffers because it’s only 1 in 3.

      Don’t think you’d get the right impact with the blobby pictures anyway, unless you wrapped them around the whole packet I suppose…….

  6. omanuel says:

    Food, fuel and energy are different names for the same commodity.

    The C J Orach site explains the rise and fall of cheap, abundant energy – before and after WWII.

  7. Jane Davies says:

    My grand parents and all of my aunts and uncles lived into their 90’s. They had a diet full of animal fat, lots of home grown veggies, some of them smoked and the lot of them liked a drink. I even remember having dripping on toast regularly as a child and we ate lots of fatty meat, my parents lived also into their 90’s and both gave up smoking in the 1960’s in their 50’s. I take no notice of the food police. Everything in moderation is my mantra. I’m not over weight and apart from two new knees, worn out with exercise (I thought that was good for you!) I’m very fit and healthy at 66 years old. I have never smoked (apart from the odd spliff in my youth) and I like a social drink and have been known to suffer from mixing the grape and the grain (lesson learnt the hard way) so as an adult I have learnt how to take care of myself without government or scientific intervention, it’s called thinking for ones self!

    • Me_Again says:

      Well said. Fits perfectly with the libertarian view.
      But there is a problem with letting people do what they want when they want.

      If the clinically obese person uses up more resources than Joe Bloggs would use treating their obesity, is it right to ask for a larger contribution to the pot from them since they are aware of the self inflicted problem?
      If the smoker or diagnosed alcoholic use up more resources than the average is it right to ask them to pay more into the pot since they too are aware of the problem.?

      Libertarianism, I’m finding has some gaps in it which are usually filled by government interference – or is that just government?

  8. Jane Davies says:

    Well I guess it evens itself out. My mum who popped her clogs aged 94 never spent one day in an NHS hospital bed, my dad who also popped off aged 94 spent, in all those years, ten days in an NHS bed. I suppose a knee jerk reaction would be that those who use the service should pay more but that will never happen. I also worked for twenty years in the NHS and can speak from experience that no checks are made to see if a patient is entitled to ‘free’ care and unless the UK introduces health care cards….like here in Canada, which have to be produced in order to get ‘free’ healthcare whenever one goes for an X ray or signs on at a new dentist etc the taxpayers of the UK will provided ‘free’ care for all and sundry, including those who are not entitled to it.

    • Me_Again says:

      Absolutely, health cards. whatever we call them. entitlement cards. We don’t do it and if we did, within ten minutes some bugger would be knocking them out of a car boot somewhere BUT it would still be better than what we have now.

      • Jane Davies says:

        It must come…it’s crazy that the UK don’t do this! How about it Roger, something for a future government to implement?

  9. David says:

    The rules of airtravel I believe stipulate a time period when a pregnant woman is not allowed to board a flight to another country. They try to get here or to USA to give birth at that place to gain UK or US citizenship for the child. i

  10. Jane Davies says:

    UK is the favourite place to give birth because it’s free. The USA is not. Also they lie as to how many months along they are if they admit to being pregnant in the first place.

    • Jane Davies says:

      Sorry, we seem to have veered off the topic!

      • David says:

        Well its linked as the subject is really do certain foods harm us, ie health, and our tempting service to the world. How do other major eu members cope with health tourism?
        France Germany, Italy etc Are they being screwed by the un-entitled|?

      • Jane Davies says:

        Good question David….anyone know the answer?

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