Sitting here at the breakfast table, with my pot of highly expensive multigrain porridge to-go, it occurs to me that I could make this myself for about 12p. I could even use the cute plastic pot to do it. Countless other mothers and harried members of the workforce are possibly thinking the very same thing. The real question here though is ‘would we?’.
Yesterday, I staged a dietary intervention on my 13yr old son. 5 days a week, at 7.30am he leaves for the school bus with not so much as a sausage in sight. Breakfasts of boiled eggs and soldiers are all but a distant memory of primary school. As for lunch; well lunch is just not cool. So, armed with leaflets and a lecture from the practice nurse (which is fairly ridiculous considering my area of expertise is food) off we went to the local space station of a supermarket. On the bus. The plan was to drag said man-child around the aisles hunting for reasonably healthy alternatives that he might deign to eat. A little wake-up shake-up on my part wouldn’t be too amiss either.
Now, I don’t do convenience foods. Unless it is chocolate I’m pretty much going to sneer at anything in a packet. The result? An empty fridge and an appalling nutritional profile. Like doctors, many professional cooks don’t have the time or the inclination to eat real food and can be found mainlining red bull and peanuts at 4pm. Me, well I’m a grown up and free to be the master of my own destruction. But a teenager? Albeit a fussy one. That one is down to me.
Staggering back on the two bus journey, we had amassed quite a haul. Fruit, some fresh produce by the way of salmon, cheese and like. We almost managed veg with corn-on-the-cob and carrots, of which the latter will only be eaten raw. And some vastly expensive cold pressed juices which, incidentally, have come a long long way since the days of v8. Other than that, nearly everything was in a packet. Bears, food doctors and vegetable crisps abound.
The thing is though, without the packets, we would be back to square one. Nutritionally barren, instead of making tentative steps to heal the damage done. It is very easy to say that by continuing to buy manufactured foods we are missing the point of the latest health revolution, and completely ignoring the environmental ones. Most of us know that the best food is made with fresh ingredients, some of us even know what to do with them, yet faced with the thought of making proper porridge in the morning, before we have even registered hunger, how many of us will head for the door instead?
We can buy cheese, ready sliced, at three times the price. Fruit, comes cut up in handy little pots. Again, at a price. We live in a world of individually portioned, ready wrapped food. Convenience is big business, as is nutrition, and the two have joined forces with remarkable speed. If you aren’t eating any vegetables, then juice is now readily available and cleverly disguised with all manner of fruit. Soup, albeit not usually eaten at breakfast, is another great way of getting your vegetable intake with minimal effort.
So, for the time being I will be getting up slightly earlier than usual and breakfasting with my son. If that means porridge-to-go, expensive vegetable juice, and processed fruit yo-yos, then so be it.
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