What came first, the Chicken Nugget or the Egg McMuffin?

A basket of potatoes

According to a recent survey, more than a third of 16 to 23-year-olds don’t know that bacon comes from pigs and two fifths failed to link milk with an image of a dairy cow.

Consumers today are prone to instant gratification in so many areas of life. Just this summer I went on holiday to Croatia knowing that there would be sun, a beach and some cultural interest. When I arrived I realised I knew next to nothing about the country’s history, Its politics or even its exact location on the map. What’s the point in bothering to remember these things when we can Google them at any time? We know when we leave the supermarkets that what we have bought tastes good, that it fills a hole, and that it is reasonably good value; so what’s the use is knowing where it comes from, let alone what effect it is having on our bodies?

It takes a nationwide realisation that standards have slipped to kickstart any progress. Take pubs for example. They are fundamental to British culture; the centre of the community. In 1971 we realised that the market on beer was dominated by a few big brewers producing bland processed beers. In 1971 CAMRA (campaign for real ale) was founded and since then ‘the number of breweries operating in the UK has grown fourfold to over 840 breweries.’

Living in Norwich, which has a pub for every member of So Solid Crew, i can attest to the outstanding range and quality of beers, stouts, ales and lagers on offer in our public houses. But what about the people inside them? The defining feature of the British people is no longer the stiff upper lip but rather the limp double chin and it seems that the fatter we get, the better we are at ignoring it.

Adnams‘ Broadside, brewed in Southwold, Suffolk

Just as beer plays a central role in the pub, a key player in British food is bread. The Real Bread Campaign promotes small bakeries that make traditional, long proved bread which is healthier than mass producing companies like Hovis and Kingsmill. A recent study by the Federation of Bakers shows that the market share of white bread was down by 3.2% on 2009, while healthier malted, grainy and seeded loaves have seen a sales growth of 5.1%. I think that Britain is taking tentative steps to becoming a healthier country and I really hope that in the next ten years the Real Bread Campaign will have the same snowball effect that CAMRA has had since the seventies.

Wholemeal Sourdough Bread. Photo by Annabel Dodebier

These three things will make Britain healthier:

1. Buying food that has fewer than 5 ingredients.

2. Buying food that is not processed and does not contain artificial ingredients.

3. Cooking meals regularly and buying ready-meals and takeaways occasionally, instead of the other way around.

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