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Customer Review

93 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to stomach, 18 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Bad Food Britain: How A Nation Ruined Its Appetite (Paperback)
Joanna Blythman is too polite; she should have called this, her latest book, "C**p Food Britain", as a lot of what we eat - from Turkey Twizzlers to deep-fried Mars bars - is not too far off this description. In an excoriating attack on our food culture, the author holds the mirror up to Britain's abusive relationship with food and it's not a pretty sight. The book contains a litany of crimes against food: the tarted-up slurry we feed our children at home and at school, the prefabricated meals masquerading as "home-cooked" in pubs and restaurants and the fear induced by food scandals born out of the overwhelming desire for cheap food.

She explodes the myth of Britain as a cosmopolitan, sophisticated, cappuccino drinking, Michelin-starred restaurant frequenting, organic goat's milk yogurt slurping and rare-breed pork sausage-gobbling foodie nation by giving us the facts on the sad, brutal reality. Here are some frightening statistics: in 2003 Britain ate more ready meals than the rest of Europe put together; Britain eats more than half of all the crisps and savoury snack in Europe; 40% of all food bought in Britain ends up in the bin; one out of three Britons do not eat vegetables because they are too much effort to prepare; by 2020 at least a third of all British adults, one fifth of British boys and on third of British girls will be obese. Of course we are out of kilter with Europe in how we deal with food. We prefer, lemming-like, to follow our cousins across the pond who are several years further down the road of mass obesity and a junk food culture so pervasive that it is actually incredibly difficult to buy and eat healthy food even if you want to.

The book amply demonstrates our problems with food: we don't really enjoy it very much: we have become disconnected from the pleasure that good food can bring; we don't see the point of it; we don't have time for it; we're afraid of it; we have become divorced from its origins and in fact don't like to be reminded where it comes from. Every week we hear conflicting advice about what is or isn't good for you. Governments shy away, under the huge pressure exerted by the food industry, from giving hard messages about the impact of nutritionally valueless food. Thus we are told you can eat any old junk as long as you exercise (remember James Fixx, the American runner who lived to that dictum and collapsed and died of a heart attack?), and that there is no such thing as bad foods, only bad diets.

This book is gripping if extremely uncomfortable reading and because of that should be prescribed reading. Why is everyone not talking about it? Maybe because we are in denial: we don't want to hear the truth about how distorted and perverted our relationship with food has become because then we would have to do something about it. What can we do about it? First read the book, then heed the author's advice: "eat as little processed food as possible and base your diet on home-cooked meals made from scratch from raw ingredients". Simple really and you could save yourself more than just a few pounds.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Apr 2008 08:35:56 BDT
Lynnie says:
Excellent review Diana

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Feb 2010 18:49:12 GMT
john says:
yes that was a great review I want to buy shopped but should i buy this instead ? also i will buy "Not on the label" what Britain comes down to is a country that doesnt care about what it eats , your not going to change that fact , people want cheap quick food . Women at work should be stay at home mums and wives and cook a good meal for their family, ok so each family wouldnt be able to afford to go to Spain each year if teh women stay at home but I am sure society would be much better .
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