Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Let's hear it for junk food

My favourite on line newspaper, the Daily Mail, reports that a nutritionist called Lily Soutter has analysed children's menus at five fast food chains.

Ms Soutter claims (here) that her "extensive knowledge of the science of food and health enables me to help you be the healthiest version of you," but sadly her findings are predictable. "Don't buy your children a cheeseburger or chips at Macdonald's," she nags, "and don't buy them fried breaded chicken and fries (chips) at Pizza Hut, and don't buy them a Kids' Burger at KFC." On and on it goes. Why can't a nutritionist write that chips are good for us, for once?

I have in my otherwise undistinguished life had three children, so I can at least claim to have had a little experience of trying to persuade them to eat. To misquote the great George Orwell, one who believes that the road to health and beauty is paved with uncooked vegetation may fancy dining on lettuce and carrots, but children don't, and I don't blame them. If you gave my children a lettuce or a carrot they would pick it up and ask "What is it?" even though they knew perfectly well. The whole point of a burger bar is to give children food that they want to eat, cheaply and in large quantities. The reason that the whole point of a burger bar is to give children food that they want to eat is that parents are constantly exhausted. We parents want to sit down and have ten minutes' peace and not have to wash up afterwards.

Does Ms Soutter imagine that parents take our children to a burger bar so as to show off our knowledge of dietetics? When I saunter into a burger bar, I invariably order filet mignon with a side order of moules marinières and alfalfa beans with a nice chianti. My children's needs are different. They go to burger bars expecting to play with their mobile phones, assail each other with any weapon within reach, yell, feed other customers' dogs, eat junk food and get grease and synthetic sugary orange juice all over themselves, just like they do at home. All children do. Ms Soutter is a sad, Canute like figure, ordering back the tide of delicious cheeseburgers, chips, pizzas and sweet fizzy drinks, with no success in the offing.

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