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Richard Clegg

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Why I love radio four [Jun. 22nd, 2010|11:58 am]
Richard Clegg
Two separate moments of hilarity on the today program.

1) An interview about the possible banning of transfats in school. The spokesman for the food industry said (naturally) that there was no need for regulation, that the industry was moving in that direction anyway and that the reports stating the dangers had been questioned. The interviewer then said "I'm reading Sir Humphrey Appleby's guide to how to stop legislation going through from Yes Minister and he claims you should always say that there's no need for regulation, that the industry is moving in that direction anyway and..."

2) An interview about learning foreign languages. A german spokesman straightfacedly describes English as the lingua franca for world business.
link

Comments:
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-22 11:23 am (UTC)
*laugh* Well metaphorically straightfacedly -- straightvoicedly. :-)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-22 12:53 pm (UTC)
It did kind of dumbfound the interviewee.
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[User Picture]From: d_floorlandmine
2010-06-22 02:11 pm (UTC)
Number 1 was wonderful.
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[User Picture]From: randomstring
2010-06-22 02:41 pm (UTC)

Indeed. Did they manage to come back with anything coherent?
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-22 04:06 pm (UTC)
A sort of spluttering noise and a mumbled denial.
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[User Picture]From: moral_vacuum
2010-06-22 04:31 pm (UTC)
Although I would point out that the industry HAS done a lot in this area. Plus we have more informative food labelling than most of the EU. And what we really need isn't more reformulation, but people to look at what they're eating in a bit more detail rather than just cramming it in their ravening maw.
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[User Picture]From: d_floorlandmine
2010-06-22 04:32 pm (UTC)
Aye, all true.
It was unfortunate that the spokesperson managed to quote Sir H quite so accurately, though ...
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-22 04:36 pm (UTC)
what we really need... people to look at what they're eating in a bit more detail rather than just cramming it in their ravening maw.

How's that working out so far as a strategy? Hey, we could conduct a large experiment somewhere, say America and see just how healthy people get.
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[User Picture]From: moral_vacuum
2010-06-22 04:50 pm (UTC)
So the alternative, then, is what? Ban, or tax out of most people's reach anything that might make them fat?

Banning transfats in takeaways is a good thing, they did it in New York, but it won't stop people dying of obesity-related disorders.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-22 04:57 pm (UTC)
Banning transfats in takeaways is a good thing, they did it in New York, but it won't stop people dying of obesity-related disorders.

And this is, indeed, what they were arguing for on this.

So the alternative, then, is what? Ban, or tax out of most people's reach anything that might make them fat?

Oh, I don't know, some combination of more education, clearer labelling, banning the worst possible food combinations and essentially stopping the food industry finding different ways to encourage us to eat too much of those things which are bad for us.

Examples would be the trick of labelling calories per "serving" and reducing the serving size (who eats half a normal sized bag of crisps), labelling Sodium not Salt -- defy you to do that conversion without reference to a text book -- splitting out fat into component fat types so no individual figure seems very large -- producing sufficient quantity labelling that only the diligent can look for the info they want and finally classifying the foodstuff in one of the categories exempt from labelling. Seriously, when I started dieting seriously a few years ago I was absolutely shocked what they can and do get away with on labelling because I naively thought that we legally have to.
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[User Picture]From: puritypersimmon
2010-06-22 08:22 pm (UTC)
I agree with all this, but I think it's more a question of economics and supermarket skulduggery - the unhealthiest options are generally the cheapest and most supermarkets then compound this by terming them 'basics' and making them loss leaders. It's the poor who tend to suffer from obesity, and whilst some of this may be down to cultural influences and lack of education, the fact is that fresh fruit and veg, wholegrain cereals, good quality meat etc, is bloody expensive and independent outlets providing such items are extremely unlikely to exist in impoverished areas.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-23 10:00 am (UTC)
I'm not convinced at all that the unhealthy options are the cheapest though the argument is often made. You're not comparing like with like when you say "good quality meat" and "fresh fruit" -- and remember that those things make no difference whatsoever to the "healthiness" of the food. A spud that's been stored for a year is pretty much as healthy and the health difference to the consumer between the cheapest mince and prime sirloin is nothing.

For value it's hard to beat a huge brown sack of spuds and similar of carrots and similar of onions enhanced with a massive amount of cheap mince (£2 / kg) or chicken (£1.40/kg but lots of that is bone) and an oxo cube and a similar huge bag of rice for variety. If you're sparing with that sort of thing it's cheaper than any prepared tat.

I think you've been eating faffy food for too long. In my student days if you wanted to eat cheaply you didn't buy pre-prepared stuff and that's still true.
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[User Picture]From: thegreatgonzo
2010-06-22 04:26 pm (UTC)
2 is almost as good as the time when Humphrys was interviewing the German ambassador and said (with all good humour on both sides) "we have a word for that in our language, schadenfreude"
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-22 04:37 pm (UTC)
I remember the time when Jenny Murray declared in horror that "the Germans have no word for Post Natal Depression".
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