By Phil Hall
In order to be healthy and thin you need to eat fresh food, much of it perishable. Logically, then, having a wonderful, huge fridge is essential.
Now, to have a huge fridge you can’t live in a small terraced house; your kitchen must be big. All the same your huge fridge – or fridges – will use a lot of electricity. You must be in a situation where you shouldn’t have to worry about the electricity bill. Of course, your fridge must be ecologically efficient. It calms down the ostentation.
But it isn’t just the fridge. Of course you need a good processing system to process unprocessed food. For example, ovens, cookers, surfaces for cooking and preparing, sharp knives.
To buy fresh, quality produce is more expensive than buying frozen, or low quality canned or preserved produce. Choices are made. Spuds or sweet potatoes, a basket of heritage tomatoes or these greenish balls from hydroponic farms (fertilised by fish poo) that you need to leave for a while to ripen. Even then there is no guarantee they will
When you are less well off you may be forced to choose battery chickens, not chickens that have a bit more room and a better time of it, frozen fish not fresh fish, dry herbs not fresh herbs and so on.
Moreover, if you want to produce healthy, quality, slimming food then you need to develop the right cookery skills and have a repertoire. You need to have travelled, or taken cookery courses. Why not take a year long sabbatical from your advertising management position?
You need to have experimented. It’s harder to cook well with delicate expensive ingredients. You need the ‘cultural capital’. You must have tasted Osso Buco in a good restaurant several times before trying to reproduce it at home.
You must have a collection of cookery books. Don’t feel shocked at the price of the ingredients or cavil at the amount if time cooking them takes.
You need time. You may be unemployed and without money, but you still have to go to and fro with the bureaucracy and knock on doors. In the worst case scenario, with your masters and all, you get the job working in McDonalds sooner than you expected.
You need education about health. Everywhere you look there are signs saying ‘Eat me!’ and there are a million reasons to ‘Eat them’. Every product is attached to a story. The story is designed to entrap you.
‘If you eat me you will experience love.’
‘If you eat me you will get status.’
‘If you eat me you will overcome depression.’
‘If you eat me you will be joyous.’
To avoid falling in all these traps you cannot be the equivalent of a poor pensioner on the verge of senility who receives a personally addressed letter telling him he has won the lottery, if only he phoned to claim it. The pensioner will believe the letter because he needs to believe it. If you feel insecure and vulnerable advertising will eat you alive. If you believe the stories about junk food you will eat yourself fat.
To avoid falling into temptation when it comes to food you need a bedrock of sufficiency and security and felicity. You need to understand that you probably won’t die of hunger, that your parents will have enough money to live on, that there are other activities that you can afford, like travel and sports and social activities that are affordable so that food loses it’s edge. The good habits of a lifetime are established.
And good eating habits need to be installed so that families eat together and don’t snack outside the home too much. Treats shouldn’t be food, but there should be plenty of other room to treat. What would you like to do that isn’t eat? Very well, we’ll do it.
Which is why programmes where people like people like Nigella tell us we can eat well an healthily on a budget are offensive.
I’ve seen those books. The recipes are bowdlerised (though good enough for the plebs) and the ingredients are still expensive despite the dumbing down. When wealthy people like Nigella open their gobs all we hear is:
‘Let them eat cake.’
Phil Hall is a university lecturer. He is a committed socialist and humanitarian. Phil was born in South Africa where his parents were in the ANC. There, his mother was imprisoned and his father was the first journalist from a national paper to be banned. Phil grew up in East Africa and settled in Kingston-upon-Thames. He has also lived and worked in the Ukraine, Spain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Phil has blogged for the Guardian, the Morning Star and several other publications and he has written stories for The London Magazine. He started Ars Notoria in May 2020.