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Nationalised eating - any takers?

Way back lost in the mists of time, Professor Anthony Flew took issue with the NHS in, I think, a Libertarian Alliance article, and created a fantasy of a National Mess Service in which the state would feed us. Judging from this comment on childrens' diets in the Commons, perhaps the satire was insufficiently subtle for Dr. Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, and, fancy, a Socialist.

"Dr. Blackman-Woods: I thank the Minister for her response. Does she agree that much could be done to tackle child obesity and health inequalities if she was to work with colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills to build on the excellent initiative of providing free fruit and veg to schools and deliver free, compulsory, nutritious school meals for all children?"

Where to start? Perhaps with Milton Friedman's observation that there's no such thing as a free lunch. This 'free' fruit and veg will have to be paid for by someone, unless the doctor intends a cashless socialist command economy, and would result, overall, in a transfer of wealth from the less well off to the well off.

The youth of the nation having got their greasy little mitts on sundry items of 'free' fruit, some will opt to play football with their apples, some will stuff their pockets with soft fruit and take it home to their parents, and the more enterprising will muddy it up and take a stall at a farmers market to sell it.

Supposing the junior consumers cannot be trusted to take and consume their allocated quota, the 'compulsory' element comes in. Presumably food commissars will be appointed to patrol every school canteen keeping beady eyes on the scholars. Perhaps they will check that students are chewing the 'correct' number of times while they are at it.

I do think that the doctor lacks ambition - surely what is good enough for primary and secondary pupils is also good enough for college students, and is there not the danger that Xavier's principle of having control of the child until seven (1), or in this case, 18, 21 or at the end of one's doctorate just would not be enough? Surely all of those kitchens, supermarkets, restaurants and the like are just so inefficient, and should not Moloch a benign state be running state dining halls in every street that we might eat properly?

She's a sociologist, not a sawbones, by the way.


(1) "Give me the children until they are seven and anyone may have them afterwards".

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Blogger Newmania said... 8:18 am

This development is all parat of a drift , not towards an Orwellian future but towards the brave new Worls of Aldous Huxley. Have you noticed how there has been a shift from the Jack Boot to a more insidious encroachment into our minds stomachs and souls.

Quite a good book called 'Big Baby`s" out which pulls these threads together but the worst partof it is the way children and their rearing is now a subject for everyone except the parent.


Good Post C  



Blogger Ed said... 8:24 am

I prefer the idea I read somewhere which proposed a return to food rationing!  



Blogger james higham said... 8:46 am

...having got their greasy little mitts on sundry items of 'free' fruit, some will opt to play football with their apple...

Now Mr. C, surely one can't project one's own childhood onto today's youth.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 8:51 am

Not me guv. I was thinking about Gorbachev moaning about the youth of the USSR playing football with loaves of bread, because bread was so cheap....  



Blogger Raedwald said... 8:55 am

They really can't get their heads around the fact that you can't improve people's lot by doing stuff for them, can they?

The other socialist conceit that surfaces from time to time is that state benefits should be in the form of goods rather than money; a single mum gets a box of organic fruit and veg and a lump of tofu every week instead of a payment. With some new State dungarees and boots every season.

Ralph Harris of course demolished this kind of thinking as the most illiberal nonsense.  



Blogger Newmania said... 9:47 am

Who is Ralph Harris Raedders ?

The whole health food placidity thing starts to get a bit macabre. I remember a story in which Aliens came to earth and forced to all become well fed happy and compliant . The reason was because we tasted better that way. Its a John Wyndham 'orrible tale I think and oddly reminds me of the edible rabbits encountered in Watership Down.

Is there a value to misery and pain, certianly the enforced absence of it ultimately seems to deny something that makes us human
"  



Blogger Croydonian said... 9:53 am

Also known as Baron Harris of High Cross, late of the IEA and FOREST, and very much one of the good guys.

I blogged his death last year

Meanwhile, anyone for soylent green?  



Blogger Guthrum said... 11:24 am

you cannot allow them to play football with an apple, because of health and safety ishoos.

To whit, my son watched open mouthed when his headmaster stopped a impromptu game of american football ( I know its barbaric)over lunchtime because it was a contact game and was unsupervised and qed had elf & safety ishoos.

God help us  



Blogger Croydonian said... 11:27 am

Guthrum - Indeed. Truly the apocalypse is upon us.

On the upside, it must help to inculcate a healthy cynicism about authority figures among the young.  



Blogger Guthrum said... 11:40 am

it does- I think the word pillock was used !  



Blogger Newmania said... 12:10 pm

I `d have thought American football would be encouraged Guthrum. By having zillions of players it stops any team spirit and personal loyalty forming . By denying anyone any freedom except to perform a specilaist role it inculcates conformity and by tenderly wrapping its Gladiators in babyish swaddling it prevents any immediate contact with experience.
The New Labour game sans pareil and in my opinion the worst popular game in the world  



Blogger Croydonian said... 12:23 pm

N - I don't think Guthrum was taking stance on the rights or wrongs of gridiron, but rather that if his son wanted to play it, he was the best person to decide.

I prefer rugby meself, but each to their own.  



Blogger Guthrum said... 1:44 pm

Boy Guthrum is a rugby chap, they just wanted to have rough and tumble with 'coats for goalposts'

Major concerns for Headmaster presumably were insurance,big brother education authority, rampaging parents if little johnny had scratched his Knee  



Blogger hatfield girl said... 3:06 pm

There used to be a Civic Restaurant in St Albans, down an alley off St Peter's Street, run by the council. On Wednesday evenings the same venue was used by the jazz club. The smell was awful for the first half hour until overwhelmed by cigarette smoke and other healthy scents.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 3:13 pm

HG - I doff my hat.  



Blogger Nick Drew said... 3:37 pm

A couple of decades ago (*ahem*) when mself & Mrs D first turned up at ante-natal classes, a nursely type came up and introduced herself.

Before I could be distracted by the prim uniform, she announced that "we (the midwifery service) will be responsible for your baby until it is one year old".

I replied, no, actually it's the Mrs & me who will be responsible.

Made for a frosty evening. I expect she meant well.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 3:45 pm

Quite a surreal experience for a chap is an ante-natal class... Being a dutiful husband I went to my wife's NCT sessions, and found it terribly difficult to keep a straight face when dealing with the group leader - a fine woman, but painfully sincere, shall we say. Being bad, I refused to shut my eyes when ordered to do so for reasons of 'empathy', and had a rather good inward snigger at all of the more housebroken men who had just what they had been told.  



Blogger Nick Drew said... 3:56 pm

C, I am shocked

that really is bad  



Blogger Croydonian said... 4:05 pm

OK, I'm going to Hell.

Mind you, in the same class said organiser had been speaking, with some enthusiasm, about the west African custom for women in labour to attach a cord to a fragile part of the male anatomy and to yank on it whenever in pain. Guardian Woman incarnate, she was.  



Blogger Nick Drew said... 5:35 pm

Yes, that's another way of empathising and I do seem to recall Pollyanna Toynbee advocating that in one of her columns

You were pretty ungrateful, spurning the 'close-your-eyes' method, I'd say  



Anonymous Mr R said... 10:45 pm

The free food idea is a nice one in a perfect world but, leaving aside the question of who pays for it, it just wont work unfortunately. The simple reason is that most schools don't have proper kitchens nowadays. Way back when I were a nipper we had proper cooks in schools and proper food. Unfortunately the education authorities found it too expensive to pay well-trained & caring staff and closed most of the school kitchens down. What we have now in effect are large re-heating stations. The food is brought in either frozen or chilled and just reheated for service. There is precious little real cooking being done in schools.

Whilst I don't like Jamie Oliver - Croydonian can explain why if he wants to but I cant be arsed at the moment - one truth he did point out in his school dinners series was that he shit food the kids are eating, both inside school and outside, is a direct contributory factor to the bad behaviour and attention deficit problems that teachers are having to put up with daily in our schools. When Jamie fed a 10 year old a diet of freshly cooked food for a week instead of the frozen and deep-fried junk he had been eating, both inside school and at home, the child's behaviour altered and improved dramatically. His teachers were quoted as saying it was like teaching a different child, one who wanted to learn and was a pleasure to teach. To prove his point at the end of the week Jamie gave the child a turkey twizler - one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen - and within half an hour the child had reacted to the chemicals in the food and had become hyperactive.

I know parents are often time poor and frozen/convenience food is often thought of as cheaper and quicker that cooking from scratch but this is a fallacy. See The F-Word for Gordon's section on quick meals. If parents don't stop poisoning their own children with additives & salt in pre-packaged food and saturated fats from deep-fried foods then there is every chance of us copying the Americans and turning into a nation of obese bastards within 2 generations.

Apologies for the rant but this is one of my pet subjects. Again I'll leave it to C to explain.  



Blogger The Cynical Libertarian said... 3:35 pm

"take a stall at a farmers market to sell it."

Lol, when I read "free fruit for school children" the first thing I thought was "sell it back to them so that they can give it back to me for free". I'd need to have a fast turn around to get the maximum number of sales from each piece of fruit before it perished.

Alas, tommorow is my last day of college, so no free fruit for me :(  



Blogger Elaib said... 12:27 pm

On the ante natal track, two things cropped up, firstly a demand that I take breast feeding classes. I couldn't help the feeling that no matter how long I studied I was singularly inequipped to succed in my stiudies. Secondly the ladies and gents were split into two groups, largely to alow the girls to be told about splitting, tearing and stiches. Meanwhile we were shown a clock face and it was pointed out in no uncertain terms that "drinking hours" would have to be curtailed. OK, up to a point, but the sincere humourlessness was topped by the following excahange,
"Well fathers can be of great help during the first months. They can learn to cook and wash the baby".
"Wouldn't it be more useful to do it the other way round?".
Death stare from the nurse.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 1:08 pm

MR R - All very true.

CL - Sorry that avenue to enrichment will be denied you.

ELAIB - I think you topped my effort there. Much chortling.  



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