Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ministry of Food

Jamie Oliver's new Channel Four programme reignites the debate on food and class.

Cooking habits are dying fast in Britain. It's a lethal combination of the longest working hours in Europe, the proliferation of take away food and the rise of microwaveable ready meals. Ministry of Food, "Get the country cooking again" is Jamie Oliver's new crusade. Already popular with his personal battle to improve school dinners in 2005, the celebrity chef is now on a mission to reverse Britain's status as the third most obese country in the world.

A few months ago, Oliver ran into a spot of bother with some controversial statements about Britain's "culture of alcohol" and "bland food". But what may have been interpreted as an excess of sanctimony, was also a truthful remark about Europe's biggest snack and junk food consumers.

The most interesting side to Jamie's Ministry of Food is its (unintentional?) role as a social documentary. The programme highlights the staggering difference in cooking and eating habits between social classes. The consequences include a much higher incidence of illnesses related to poor diet. There are heavily indebted families who are quite happy to live beyond their means when it comes down to the latest flat screen TV, iPod and the rest, but are not prepared to make more of an effort when it comes to healthy food. For an excellent review of Ministry of Food, take a look at Felicity Lawrence's piece on the Guardian online.

1 comment:

Kim Wilde said...

Poverty of aspiration. That's the real issue. People don't see past the crack of their arse