Friday, October 28, 2011

That's bad for you y'know

Why can't they just let us eat ourselves to death in peace!!

Reports from a recent study by the Department of Health and Wellbeing have found that too much oxygen is bad for you. The studies found that on average humans inhale up to 20% more of the element than the recommended daily amount and if this situation is to continue the repercussions could be quite dramatic. Although previously thought to be the main reason for the sustainment of life on Planet Earth it now appears that, amongst other things, oxygen lowers sperm count, raises cholesterol and worst of all can lead to excess flatulence if inhaled incorrectly. However help is at hand as boffins at the research facility have promised to undertake a massive advertising campaign to educate us all about the dangers of ‘over breathing’ and how to regulate the amount of oxygen you take in on a daily basis.

Okay so things aren’t quite that bad just yet but if a story of that nature appeared in your morning paper would you really be that surprised?  You can’t move nowadays for stories warning of the dangers of eating this or drinking that as the nanny state attempts to drain the last remaining drop of enjoyment out of our lives completely. If you were to follow the advice of each and every scaremongerer your daily diet would most likely consist of the following, a glass of red wine (obviously), one egg, 125 grams of Broccoli, a grapefruit, some oily fish, two squares of dark chocolate and an arrangement of nuts and berries foraged fresh from the hills that very morning. Doesn’t exactly cause you to salivate at the mouth now does it? But if this is what they’re telling us to eat then who are we to argue!

So having followed all of this advice and merrily marched around Tesco filling your basket with foods deemed ok by the powers that be you get home and set about making a meal which will hopefully extend your life expectancy by about four minutes. You carefully scrutinise the ingredients of each and every item, tot up your carb count and compile the allowed percentages of various words which you can’t pronounce before declaring yourself content with your dish. The wok gets put on the hob and you ready yourself for a meal which even a malnourished rabbit would turn its nose up at. But then just as you’re getting ready to serve up you overhear a conversation on the radio, “God I’d never serve artichokes to my children sure aren’t they full of fliocasides......”. Fliocasides?! What the hell are they? You salvage the artichoke package from the bin and right enough there it is in black and white, fuckin fliocasides. With a resigned air you switch off the oven, empty the contents of the wok into the bin and vow to eat nothing but Goji  berries until told otherwise.

How on earth did we survive before we had nutritionists, mentalists and meddling idiots telling us what we can and can’t eat on a daily basis? More importantly how did our parents and their parents before them survive? My grandmother lived to be 85 and I can guarantee you she never saw an artichoke or a glass of cranberry juice in her entire life. Back then there was no point in warning about the health risks in certain food as they only had a choice of about eight different things, and that’s only if you counted mashed, boiled and roast spuds as three separate items. People reaped their crops, milked their cows and murdered their animals before sitting down to hearty dinners of meat and two veg and everybody was happy. An egg a day is okay? They’d laugh in your face and nearly choke on their boiled egg sandwiches before heading home for an omelette with some scrambled egg for dessert.

Regardless of what decade you were brought up in you were told to ‘eat your greens’ and that was fair enough, after all they were green and tasted like feet so they must have been good for you. But at some point during the last couple of decades, (probably around the same time we started eating Paninis), it became normal for media outlets to put a guilt trip on us for indulging ourselves. We’d only just gotten used to having a bit of variety and choice in our diets and straight away the miserable bastards wanted to ruin it for us. What do you mean Chinese grub is unhealthy, it’s full of vegetables!!! MSG?? Ah for Christ sake, I’ll just console myself with one of these tasty probiotic yogurts instead then. Brain cancer?! What?! And so it continues on and on and on. 

In fairness maybe they do have a point because little by little we’re turning into one big gargantuan tub of lard and anything that can be done to stop us hurtling towards messy Elvis type deaths is probably a good thing. Obesity is rampant in everywhere but the Third World and it’s almost as if mankind is sticking up a collective two fingers in the direction of the health freaks whilst scoffing their way to an early grave. So what does this say about us? That we don’t give a damn about what the scientists say? That’s true to a certain extent but perhaps the real truth isn’t that simple. It’s all very well telling us to eat fresh vegetables bathed in the tears of a new born baby whilst repeating the mantra ‘Asparagus cures all mans ails’ over and over again but this stuff doesn’t come cheap......and we’re all skint. I know that in the long run it’s cheaper to buy fresh produce and personally I do my level best to eat relatively healthily but when you see the likes of the aforementioned asparagus at the same price as two frozen pizzas and a Snickers bar is it any wonder most of us say sod it and take the easy option.

But if by some sort of miracle the nutritious and delicious foods of the world were suddenly made affordable to all of us would it really make any difference? Shorn of the too expensive excuse our devious minds would quickly find another reason to abdicate and before long the government would abandon the whole thing and reintroduce the old price arguing that we’re a shower of ungrateful morons. This is just human nature and something that will never change, we as a species are well versed in the notion that ‘if they say it’s bad for ya then it must be lovely’ and so the opposite must therefore be true also. Would heroin be so successful if it was stocked alongside the pistachio nuts in your local supermarket? Of course not! We’d quickly tire of its moreish charms and roam the streets at night desperately looking for that shady bloke who reputedly sells mandarins.

Never before have we been so well informed when it comes to what we eat and never before has there been such a wide variety of foodstuffs available to us. In a utopian society this would see millions of physically perfect people parading their chiselled torsos, sipping their flavour free health drinks and living to be 260 years old. But we as a species are a failure and along with destroying this pretty little home that God made for us we’re intent on destroying ourselves also. Well so the militant separatist groups that make anybody with a slight protuberance around their mid section feel like social outcasts would have you believe anyway. These health Nazis won’t be content until we’re all modern day Oliver Twists terrified to ask for some more.

Thankfully they’ll never win because capitalism just won’t allow them to. ‘Bad’ food is the most profitable legal drug trade in the world and every one of us is an addict on some level or another. There’s a lot of this food which probably only borders on the right side of legal and as Jamie Oliver proved we definitely shouldn’t be feeding it to our kids. But as with everything in life it’s just a matter of finding the right balance and not swinging too far one way or the other. Go on have that bag of Swiss triple chocolate chip cookies cos I know I will, but try not to have them the night after aswell. Try a few kiwis instead. They’re actually quite nice. It’s just common sense really and contrary to what the food Nazis think most of us possess plenty of it and can decide what we’d like to eat without being mollycoddled by those with supposedly superior knowledge. So the next time you hear some pompous, self-important preacher speak of the finer things in life just remember that their life is most likely a miserable procession of herbal teas and organic turnips and that while you’re tucking into your bumper pack of maltesers they’ll be sitting at home pondering the all too real prospect of dying miserable and alone thanks to their oh so healthy lifestyle.