Panic on a Plate

Having been quite impressed by the Leeds Salon event I attended, and I decided to head down to their next one – Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder at which Rob Lyons made the case that we all need to chill out about what we’re eating before being cross-examined by a panel of experts.

The key points in Rob’s talk were that people now eat a more varied, nutritious diet than ever before. One hundred years ago people didn’t have freezers, microwaves or even cookers, so the idea that until recently everyone had eaten warm home cooked meals is nonsense.

Supermarkets have only come round in the past 50 years, and before then you simply couldn’t get the variety you can access now. Let alone a thousand years ago, or ten thousand years ago as the species was evolving (not that it’s stopped). Only as far back as 1914, people simply couldn’t afford the fuel to run their cookers, so would often only cook hot food once a week for Sunday lunch. People would be eating junk food all the time – they would often by down the fish and chip shop three or four times a week.

In 1930, food made up 30% of your household budget, it now accounts for 10%. It was only in the 1970’s that freezers became affordable to everyone. In short, food today is cheaper, easier to store and easier to cook than ever before. The result is that people benefit from a more varied, more nutritious diet than ever before. Even if you’re eating takeaway every night, compared to what people were eating a hundred years ago, you’re doing pretty well.

While the panel didn’t buy into the talk wholesale, there was a lot more agreement than I expected. Generally, the consensus was that Rob was speaking a lot of sense – but there still was a healthier way to live, if only by ensuring you have different coloured foods on your plate each night.



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This entry was posted on Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 12:36 pm and is filed under Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.