Meat Free Mondays

In mid June 2009 I went to the launch of Meat Free Mondays. Frontman Paul McCartney gave a straightforward and inspiring speech stating the obvious – meat eating is responsible for about one quarter of the world’s increase in greenhouse gas levels each year. If we all gave up meat just one day a week, this could make a significant difference to our headlong rush towards extinction on an overheated planet. Not particularly challenging you might think – one day a week without meat isn’t going to have anyone in the developed world turning up at the doctor’s with kwashiorkor or some other protein deficiency disease, is it? In fact, a little less protein might help with the obesity boom – could be win – win: we end up healthier and our grandchildren inherit a planet that is still habitable.

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Trans Fats are crap fats

Artificial fats are bad for you

People sometimes accuse the health food industry of scaremongering but they are rank amateurs compared to the slick, professional and well-organised tropical fats campaign that created national panic in the US in the 1980s. With full-page newspaper ads screaming “Stop the Poisoning of America”, the orchestrated campaign blamed palm and coconut oil for America’s heart disease epidemic. Within months every major American product had ‘no tropical fats’ on the front of the label and ‘hydrogenated fat’ on the ingredients list where natural fat had been. The American Soybean Association was pleased as punch – soya oil is the raw material for hydrogenated fat.
In Britain in the 80s health authorities and hospital dieticians encouraged people to give up butter and switch to high-polyunsaturate margarines. But to have high polyunsaturate levels you need high levels of hydrogenated fat. As a result there are millions of Britons who have heart disease (they’re the lucky ones, the rest are dead) because they followed this well-meaning but misguided advice. Continue reading

Educate, Educate, Educate

How important is an understanding of food and nutrition to society? How do we measure the importance people place on food quality and how do we increase the value they place on it? We know that consumers who care most about food quality, healthy diet and biodiversity are the most likely to be consumers of organic food. So education is about getting down to the roots of people’s understanding and helping them make the connections. Continue reading