Gordon Ramsay caused a bit of a flutter by proposing that out-of-season fruit and veg be outlawed in Britain. A little light counter-attack from readers of his restaurant menus, but aside from the dessert menus he seems to be sticking pretty well to his principles. I was glad to see him coming down on ex-saint Delia Smith who has been flogging a re-edition of an old book of hers from the seventies which promotes use of ready-made food, which by now we should know is less healthy and more expensive than learning to cook from scratch.
She also made some rather ill-advised comments about supermarket chicken which made feathers fly. Supporters say it’s her working class roots, and that she was just showing sympathy for people who simply can’t afford organic food. But although she concedes she doesn’t like “the way battery chickens are reared,” it strikes me that in describing battery chickens as “nutritious food” she doesn’t seem to grasp the public health risks – increased and dangerous overexposure to antibiotics that come to us through chicken meat, the salmonella and e. coli risks – and the issues around over-consumption of meats by Western consumers.
Most of the cookbooks we’ve all grown up with are meat-based, and so it’s unsurprising to find someone who’s made a living writing them (though her Vegetarian Collection cookbook is excellent) promoting that same unimaginative thinking about feeding the poor.
So my rhetorical question of the day: is it better to invite low-budget shoppers to buy cheap (because inhumanely reared with unhealthy production standards) meat or to point them towards other ways of cooking which use more economical sources of protein?