BBC: What’s Really in our Food?

The BBC has started a week-long series of shows entitled “What’s Really in our Food?”  Ironically, they have been shown from 9:15-10 a.m., the time I usually have my breakfast, after walking the girls to school.

On the one hand, it’s been a bit of a learning experience.  Even though I’ve lived out here for nearly 5 years, I still can’t quite get a grip on the whole food labelling practices out here.  Until I moved here, I was used to having easy labels to read: everything you could possibly want to know about a particular food product, broken up into serving size portions.  X calories per X gram/ounce serving.  I always knew what I was eating.  Here?  They either break it up into 100 g portions or they just tell you how much is in the whole damned thing – if they even tell you at all.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve bought something to find out that there’s no nutritional information whatsoever on the packaging.  Just a list of ingredients, and that’s it.

Recently, there’s been a bit of a political movement to get the labels changed – into what is considered a ‘traffic light’ type label.  What they want to do is put the label on the front of the food package, with color-coded segments (green = ‘good’ for you, eat it all you want; red = ‘bad’ for you, only eat it sometimes, etc.).  A lot of stores, like Sainsbury’s and ASDA have already done this, but yesterday they showed an exec from Tesco saying that they had surveyed their customers and found that they didn’t want them.  However, the producers of the show randomly surveyed customers in a particular Tesco store and found that over 80% of them actually did want the ‘traffic light’ labels.  So I truly have to wonder: who’s lying?  It’s got to be ONE of them.  And as much as I really distrust MSM when it comes to all things related to obesity, weight, and food, it just seems odd that people who shop at practically every other supermarket in the UK would want the ‘traffic light’ labels but the people who shop at Tesco wouldn’t. 

The one thing that I have to say I DO like about this whole series, though, is the host (presenter) – Gregg Wallace.  He starts out the whole thing admitting to a love of ‘junk food.’  And you can actually tell in his attitude – he approaches the whole thing with an air of curiosity, not one of disdain.  He’s got this whole ‘Oh wow, you’ll never guess what I found out!’ attitude, and considering the way people view food nowadays, I find it really refreshing.

What I don’t like, however, is the fact that it’s yet another way to perpetuate the myths surrounding this whole ‘obesity crisis’ bullshit.  Today’s show, for example, showed a fitness instructor go on a 9-day long diet change, going from eating primarily healthy food to all junk, all the time.  Chocolate cereal for breakfast, kebabs for lunch, chinese takeaways for dinner, etc.  She gained 5 lbs. during that time (and she continued to exercise, obviously, since it was actually her job) and her fitness level went down a bit – she had done a fitness test beforehand, and lasted 12 minutes; afterwards she only lasted 10.  Okay, I can believe all of that – after all, it was a very drastic change she went through.

But then they get this ‘expert in sports medicine’ to say that if she continued like that, she would get fatter and fatter and fatter and her fitness level would go down and down and down.  Those weren’t her exact words, obviously, but that was the general idea.

And there was that thinly veiled undertone of ‘all you fatties, listen up: you’re just going to get fatter and fatter until you die.’  And as we all know, just because a person is fat doesn’t mean they eat like that.  Hell, just because a person is thin doesn’t mean they don’t.  Take my husband, for example.  He COULD eat like that and he’d never gain a pound.  Me?  I swear, I so much as LOOK at food and I could gain weight.  (But then again, before I got my tubes tied, he so much as looked at me and I got pregnant, too! 😆 )  I must be the embodiment of osmosis or something.  😉

And Mr. Wallace went into great detail, trying to figure out whether we could trust the labels to be accurate.

I don’t know… I guess it all evens out, really.  There are good points to this series, but there are bad points too.  But I do think it was a good idea to make the show, regardless.  It was really eye opening to find out that by Gregg Wallace reading the list of ingredients out to people, they couldn’t tell if he was talking about a Lime-based soap or Lemon & Lime squash (American readers: squash is kind of like concentrated liquid kool-aid – you add water to it and !voila! you have drinkage).  Education is always a good thing — I guess I just wish they were a little more objective about it.

Edit Update: edited because I found a better link for the show, and I realized that one of my sentences just looked really out of place where I had it, so I moved it.  That is all.


2 Responses

  1. I was really cross with the young woman who didn’t have time to cook because she had two young children. What’s wrong with preparing and cooking when they are in bed? Or try what my mother had to do during and after the war with two young children and a husband in a war. Food on ration and having to queue for the little she could get. Even after the war when food was still on ration and she had to work she still managed to put a home cooked meal on the table every day.

  2. Whoa. That’s deep when it’s hard to tell the difference between soap and something to drink.

    But y’know, objectivity in the media is like…the bane of my existance. No matter what, info is gonna be spun to fit whatever mold the general public wants to see.

    But I have to agree it looks like a good program(maybe they’ll show it on BBC America?)…it’s weird, I thought the nutritional info label was international.

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