Hm, Why Wouldn't British People Want to Spend More Time Celebrating Their Food?

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Fresh from his history-making speeches advocating "showing more love" to adolescents and fathers showing up at the birth of their kids, UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron is taking a bold stance in favor of home cooking.

"Instead of valuing fresh, quality food, carefully prepared—the kind of food culture you see in other European countries—we've created a junk food society. "Some people say that junk food is at least cheap food. But in truth, it's a false economy. There's a price to be paid for it—in our health, our environment, and our culture."

"And in any case, it's simply not true to say that fresh, quality food is more expensive than pre-packaged, processed products. But while it doesn't cost more money, it sometimes takes more time. And I think it's important to make time for good food." Signalling Tory policy plans to help deliver his vision for the good food society, the Tory leader said his party's previous call for proper food labelling made before the 2005 general election was "just the start".

Cameron isn't all awful—as Jacob Sullum noticed, he's probably the UK party leader most open to drug decriminalization. That doesn't excuse his relentless goo-goo "I know what's good for you"ism, though, and makes it even more confusing from a political perspective. Tony Blair's Labour Party only got off the mat when the leader started ditching the party's soft positions on criminal justice and no-strings welfare programs. Cameron is trying to rebrand the British Conservatives as the party of cuddly "new dads."

As Iain Murray noticed earlier in the week, this is starting to kill them in the polls as working class voters roll their eyes and go back to Labour.

NEXT: The Curse of Mark Foley

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  1. It isn’t enough to label the food. People will continue to make unhealthy choices as long as we leave it up to them. Their behavior affects us all. It’s time to reduce opportunities for negative eating.

  2. Three avenues of dietary advice never to be taken: Oprah, DR. Phil, and any politician. Next up – advice on how to find a suit that fits.

    Although I would be prone to voting for any politician who started addressing the public on how to apply a condom with ones mouth. A demonstration would be needed of course.

  3. steveintheknow-

    You forgot to mention the British. Which makes this a twofer.

  4. he’s probably the UK party leader most open to drug decriminalization.

    Interesting dichotomy…so when I smoke my decriminalized marijuana, I’m supposed to wait to satisfy my muchies with a home cooked meal?

  5. No, you’re supposed to bake your own delicious double chocolate pot brownies!

  6. But while it doesn’t cost more money, it sometimes takes more time. And I think it’s important to make time for good food.

    And by instituting the 35 hour max work week, the glorious home cookin’ revolution can be shared in by all! And think of all the jobs it will create!!

    Why didn’t someone think of this before?

  7. No, you’re supposed to bake your own delicious double chocolate pot brownies!

    Now we’re talking! Do pot brownies contain trans fats?

  8. Hey, when Reason writers tell us that less taxes, less regulation and a freer market is good for us, does that count as “I know what’s good for you”ism as well?

  9. “There’s a price to be paid for it – in our health, our environment, and our culture.”

    How does fast food ruin your culture and your environment more than so-called “quality food”? If your culture is so fragile that a few Mc’D’s are going to threaten it, well, then maybe it’s not Mc’D’s that is the problem?

    “And in any case, it’s simply not true to say that fresh, quality food is more expensive than pre-packaged, processed products. But while it doesn’t cost more money, it sometimes takes more time. And I think it’s important to make time for good food.”

    Time that not everyone has. Furthermore, for many people, time IS money. I know that saying is cliche as all hell, but it’s true. I was talking to a friend who makes HUGE bucks shoeing horses. He has to actually turn people down, and that’s money he could be making. So he was talking about detailing the inside of his truck, and how it would take him most of a day…and when weighed against the profit, it made more sense to pay a company $100 to detail it while he works and makes much more than that. The point is, “making time for good food” will inevitably cost money unless you’re salaried, because that’s time that could be spent making more money. This is elementary economics. Ugh.

    But, yeah, it’s not like it’s any of his fucking business anyway. I’s just sayin…

  10. To be fair, “cheap” junk food is a false economy. Pointing that out hardly equals nannyism.
    I also take no offense at the thought of food labeling as long as the labeling is truthful.

  11. Dan T. is right. Imposing freedom on people is not the best way to allow them to reach their potentials. The government exists to help people make better choices. Left to their own devices, some people will amount to no good at all.

  12. Pointing that out hardly equals nannyism.

    When a politician points something out the last thing that occurs to me is that he’s just trying to give me some good friendly advice.

  13. When a politician points something out the last thing that occurs to me is that he’s just trying to give me some good friendly advice.

    Yes, he really just wants to stop you from having some McNuggets.

  14. The point is, “making time for good food” will inevitably cost money unless you’re salaried, because that’s time that could be spent making more money. This is elementary economics. Ugh.

    Unless the investment in time spent preparing good food improves your health, which allows you to perform better at work and thus earn more money.

  15. Dan T. is right. Imposing freedom on people…[blah blah blah]

    Oh goody, another blogspot troll has discovered H&R.

  16. I was lucky enough to grow up with home cooking for nearly every meal. I was a perfect picture of health after 18 years of eating mom’s fried round steak, and potatos fried with bacon, and doused in cream gravy, washed down with sun tea and a few home-made chocalate chip cookies.

    In the future a mom serving that meal to her kids will be subject to felony charges of child abuse.

  17. McNuggets should be illegal. I’m working on that at the moment.

  18. What should really be illegal are leaders trying to improve the health of their societies.

    Today, labels on food. Tomorrow, death camps!

  19. “I know better than you” is a cheap shot used when someone makes an obversion that you find disagreeable and irrefutable.

    How dare he make an accurate observation you’d rather not hear?

  20. ed

    Don’t panic.

    I think there is more than a little sarcasm in “Caseworker Alice Pitney”s posts.

    If I calculate the tragectory of her posts correctly, Ben & Jerry are next on the list.

  21. Unless the investment in time spent preparing good food improves your health, which allows you to perform better at work and thus earn more money.

    Dan, care to take a stab at, you know, actually supporting your assertion with some math?

  22. Normally I would start shouting accusations of Reductio ad absurdum at some of you people, but we are talking about the British here. There is a fair amount of precedent for their nannyish ways.

  23. This magazine is really starting to bug me.

    Was the guy calling for the execution of those who eat junk food? No. The imprisonment? No. Higher taxes on junk food, even? No. He said “We all should try to make time to eat good food.” Apparently that’s an objectionable statement around here.

    The point is, “making time for good food” will inevitably cost money unless you’re salaried, because that’s time that could be spent making more money.
    So you work every waking hour? You never spend time doing unproductive things? It’s pretty safe to assume he meant “Take an hour from watching [insert brainless TV show here] and cook a fucking decent meal” not “Work no more than 10 hours a week.”

    With all the actual harmful stuff going on in this world, people here get their panties in a bunch because of a single, common-sense piece of advice just because it happens to come from a politician. And you wonder why we can’t even get elected dogcatcher.

  24. -ed

    I too was victimized by the veiled sarcasm of CAP on an earlier thread this mourning. She is dangerous. I, might even say, bad for your health:)

  25. That is not sarcasm you are detecting. It is conviction. And Ben & Jerry isn’t next. But it’s on the list. First we’ve got to get people to start wanting to be all they can be, to expand their horizons, to not settle for second best. If it takes a little prodding to get them going in the right direction, that’s fine with me. Unhealthy food is only part of it.

  26. Dan, care to take a stab at, you know, actually supporting your assertion with some math?

    I’m not sure what math you’re looking for – it should be self-evident that, all other things being equal, a healthy person will be able to earn more money than an unhealthy person. He’ll live longer and spend less time home sick, not to mention have better mental clarity, less stress, and generally feel better.

    My point was simply that while it’s probably does take more time to prepare healthy food, it’s probably a good investment in the long run.

  27. God damn. I mean seriously, what happened to the Tories? I miss the good old days of fox hunting and shooting Argies and Maggie flipping the bird to the socialists. Sigh…

  28. How dare he make an accurate observation you’d rather not hear?

    When a politician “make[s] an accurate observation”* the last thing that occurs to me is that he’s just trying to give me some good friendly advice.

    Usually it’s because he’s decided he knows what’s good for me and that I need to get it good and hard. (Apologies to Mencken).

    *Leaving aside the questionable accuracy of this particular observation.

  29. probably

    Dan, I can accept that kind of qualification on your opinion… when an opinion (like Mr. Cameron’s) get turned into a price tag though (such as for educational materials, etc., associated with government action) I’ll expect a bit more thoroughness in calculating the cost-benefit.

  30. -CAP

    God damit. Now you are really aiding my fall into total moronitude. In the D&D world we call that a nemisis.

    BTW, are you really a walmart hater?

  31. “…working class voters rolls their eyes and go back to Labour.”

    Therein lies the difference between the Brits and us. We don’t have a working class; we have just a wealthy class. Most of us in the wealthy class are working our asses off trying to make ends meet until our ship comes in. For us junk food might be a cheap, unhealthy choice, but it’s just a temporary measure.

  32. Dan, I can accept that kind of qualification on your opinion… when an opinion (like Mr. Cameron’s) get turned into a price tag though (such as for educational materials, etc., associated with government action) I’ll expect a bit more thoroughness in calculating the cost-benefit.

    Fair enough. But wouldn’t the libertarian position be that no government action is appropriate, no matter what the cost/benefit might be?

  33. Caseworker Alice Pitney –

    I very much enjoy your blog. It is spot-on.

    Not wanting help IS, in fact, the first sign you need it. And some gentle nudging by the state to get that help is sometimes necessary.

  34. Any politician suggesting that the UK needs more home cooking of bangers and mash and less imported food from other cultures wouldn’t get my vote for reasons of palette.

  35. Miss Pitney is flogging a book and, from the looks of it, a not very good one.

  36. Anyone who has ever dined on British fare can testify as to why junk food has ravaged what’s left of the British Empire. The sole exceptions being Prime Rib and Creme Brulee’

  37. caseworker alice pitney reminds me of the Harriet Meiers blog

  38. It is, in fact, an awful book, written by an awful man.

  39. El Geronimo de Crow used to always say that denial is the first sign of inebriation. He was always right. Therefore, Dan T must be right too.

    We don’t need no steenkin’ help = Denial. Which is not just a river in Africa my friends.

    And to clarify what I mean earlier: Prime Rib and Creme Brulee’ are the only British offerings to the palate that are worth eating.

  40. Fair enough. But wouldn’t the libertarian position be that no government action is appropriate, no matter what the cost/benefit might be?

    it isn’t my position…and that’s the only position I represent.

    I suspect, with only the evidence of comments on this board, that many libertarian-minded people would be satisfied if the government’s actions were routinely crafted with an attempt at calculating–and following through with– cost-benefit measurements for publically funded programs.

  41. Keep in mind that it was the British who invented what I believe are the original fast food, Fish ‘n’ Chips.

    Mmmm, ahhh, Fish ‘n’ Chips, fresh out the deep fryer, dumped on a few sheets of yesterday’s newspaper*, salted profusely and wrapped. Tear into the end of the package and reach in for some pieces of lard-laced heavenly manna and eat the same while walking back to work.

    *of course, thanks to some hygeine fanatics this useful recycling practice is no longer available.

  42. That reminds me of this:

    In Heaven the English are the police, the French are the cooks, and the Germans are the engineers.

    In Hell, the English are the cooks, The French are the engineers, and the Germans are the police.

  43. I suspect, with only the evidence of comments on this board, that many libertarian-minded people would be satisfied if the government’s actions were routinely crafted with an attempt at calculating–and following through with– cost-benefit measurements for publically funded programs.

    And you may be right, there seems a curious mix of libertarian leaning folks hanging with a few hard core libertarians here.

    I would say that IF you allow the government to involve itself in our daily lives that the very least it could do would be to abide by a cost/benefit rule that makes sense. That is not a libertarian position but more of a self-defense move on the part of the citizenry.

    While I have no objections to a pol using the bully pulpit, there is no question that the bully pulpit is the gateway drug to new piles of regulation, rules, and laws. Most of the rest of us cynical libertarian types feel that way too, which is why the derision comes forth quickly for this kind of stuff.

  44. of course, thanks to some hygeine fanatics this useful recycling practice is no longer available.

    Wouldn’t work today anyway because the grease would dissolve the ink and your fish would be black. Ever look at your fingers after you read the Sunday paper?

    They aren’t using lard to fry that fish anymore either.

  45. J sub D, also:

    In heaven, the lovers are Italian and the managers are Swiss.

    In hell, the lovers are Swiss and the managers are Italian.

    This sort of thing really depresses me. I have a silly pet theory that home cooking is actually better than fast food — not that I avoid fast food entirely, being American and breathing — but it’s impossible to say so without sounding like the biggest scolding dork in the Northern Hemisphere. I want Santa to bring me the ability to praise home production while being at least as cool as possible for someone past 40. Really likely to happen, that.

  46. as cool as possible for someone past 40.

    hehe…Too old to rock and roll, too young to die!

  47. Karen, home cooked food can be better than fast food but I think that an awful lot of people just can’t cook. That isn’t new, I can remember eating dinner over at friend’s homes when I was a kid. Yes, the mom’s cooked dinner. Sometimes it was edible. The kids who went to church had the best home cooking followed by transplants from the south. Poorer kids I knew were eating tuna casserole half the time but they couldn’t have afforded fast food anyway.

    I could easily be a food scold. Wait. I am a food scold. Maybe a food Nazi even. My father told me that I was a picky bastard about food. Oh, if he only knew……..

  48. They aren’t using lard to fry that fish anymore either.

    It just isn’t like the old days at all.

    ‘Scuse me, got to go. There are some kids I got to chase off my lawn.

  49. Karen,
    Between two posts, we’ve managed to insult 5 nationalites, surely not a record, but not half bad either.

  50. “I know better than you” is a cheap shot used when someone makes an obversion that you find disagreeable and irrefutable.

    How dare he make an accurate observation you’d rather not hear?

    It may be accurate, but folks presumably don’t elect politicians to preach at them about their eating habits. And even if most people did – the people here definitely don’t. Further, when a politician starts preaching about something, that’s almost invariably a prelude to trying to enforce what he’s preaching through law. We don’t like that sort of thing.

    You’ve been here a few years, Joe – are you somehow unaware of these points? Why stir to mock people for daring to snark at a buttinski pol?

  51. You don’t have to be a hard-core libertarian (I’m not) to despise State paternalism (I do). I don’t like ANYBODY telling me “what’s good for me”. Why should approve of The State doing it?

    In Heaven the English are the police, the French are the cooks, and the Germans are the engineers.

    Yecch. French food is the most overrated on the planet. Give me hearty German food any day – sausages, liver pate, pretzels, mmmmmmm…

  52. I’m buying Mean Martin.

    The point is, “making time for good food” will inevitably cost money unless you’re salaried, because that’s time that could be spent making more money. This is elementary economics. Ugh.

    Absolutely correctomundo. Now I’m off to Palm Springs for a hot date with the old lady. We’ll sit in the sunshine next to the fake lake and drink good red wine while dining on something delightful. It will cost me a fortune because while there, I won’t be working. Ergo, no fees will be generated.

    Of course, I may get up at zero-dark-thirty Saturday morning and put the pedal to the metal to make up for lost time.

  53. Yecch. French food is the most overrated on the planet. Give me hearty German food any day – sausages, liver pate, pretzels, mmmmmmm…

    I actually think the Chinese can give anyone a run for the money when it comes to culinary arts. I love French cooking as well, though.

  54. TWC–How do you do manage to do that with kids?

    I mean, really, how do you do something like that with spawn trotting around the castle? I’m clearly doing something wrong in my enjoyment of the finer things, being that I don’t.

    🙁

  55. Regarding Caseworker Alice Pitney’s recent comments on Hit and Run, it is not my intent to offend Reason readers or be a genuine troll. The below link explains what I’m up to. I hope Hit and Run regulars (I am one) will have some fun with it rather than be annoyed by it, and understand that they are in on the joke and not the target of it.

    http://scottstein.powerblogs.com/posts/1164858261.shtml

    Apostate Jew, you’re right that someone is flogging a book, but it’s a book that is up this group’s alley. I should know. I spend a lot of time in that alley.

    Sorry if I hijacked the comments. Pitney tried to stay on topic.

    Sincerely,
    Scott Stein

  56. J sub D, yes, Chinese. and don’t forget Thai. And Southern BBQ.

    See, that is what is so great about America and is one good reason to let them furriners in.

    Great Food.

  57. Scott–I enjoyed your comments and it was quite obvious that you had ulterior motives. No harm, no foul.

    But, you naughty boy, did pull the wool on poor ol’ Dan T, assuming he’s not a Reason staffer sock puppet, designed to stir up trouble.

  58. See, that is what is so great about America and is one good reason to let them furriners in.

    Great Food.

    Some should be forced to write that 100 times on the blackboard.

  59. Scott Stein keeps telling people that he “wrote” me and I’m just a figment of his imagination, he’ll make my list and maybe get punched right in the scrotum.

    As for Pitney, well, she’ll get hers.

  60. JW, the kids are at school. It’s only 9:45 am out here on the left coast. We’re only an hour or so from Palm Springs and it’s a nice drive on the back roads. We’ll have a leisurely lunch and be back before the kids get home.

    Not that we do this often but we are fortunate in that we can plan our work schedules in such a way to be able to do this once in a while.

    For any lurkers who see an opportunity here, watch out for the dogs. Daisy is a bit of a pie, but once Blackie latches onto your forearm, she’ll take her cue…..Plus my dad is down for the weekend. He’s old but he can still manage a 12 guage.

  61. I nominate Italian as the best all-around (as both haute and home) cuisine, followed in a tie by Mexican and French. Chinese, Thai and Indian are all fantastic, but a bit too complicated for me to do right at home. Of course, they seem to manage it pretty well at their own homes, I’m just lazy.

    TWC, you reminded me of something. My grandmothers, God rest their souls, could make heavenly cakes out of sand and old engine grease, but couldn’t make an edible meat dish if their lives depended on it. My mother and aunt inherited a preference for hideously overcooked meat. (Dad can, if pressed, boil an egg.) My cousins (both men) and I all were picky eaters who learned how to cook well in self-defense. We joked at Thanksgiving that we learned to eat pork in college, when we found out that it didn’t have to be cooked into jerky.

    J sub D: Actually, we nailed five nationalities in two posts. Don’t count all the ones in between. Definitely a record.

  62. Not wanting help IS, in fact, the first sign you need it. And some gentle nudging by the state to get that help is sometimes necessary.

    Admit it Dan T. You just post stupid shit for the hell of it.

  63. Scott Stein,

    I am disappointed that you broke character. I got a kick out of the Caseworker Alice posts. Tell you what – you send me a copy of the book and I’ll read it. It’s the least I could do.

  64. Scott Stein,

    I am disappointed that you broke character.

    Yeah, Jersey McJones never did. But then, he set the bar high…

  65. J sub D, one more lesson in the ill effects of fatty foods. (I posted after eating giant enchiladas at lunch. Those things are stronger than presciption sleeping pills.) I elided posts and nationalities and unfairly accused you of not giving us enough credit in insulting other countries. I still think we medalled, though.

  66. Little late, but who ever determined that home cooked is better for you than takeout.
    I guess it’s okay for a leader of a country to make a sweeping generalization that somehow suggests he has the upper hand on public health initiatives.
    Anyway TWC is right, English food sucks and can hardly be considered health food. Anyone remember the two fat ladies cooking show. Every recipe started with a pound of butter and a pound of bacon, and the food still sucked.

  67. Fast food was a vast improvement over my Mother’s cooking. Let me put it this way – If we were good we could go to bed without your supper.

  68. highnumber,

    After this post on this thread, no more breaking character. I did want some Hit and Run people to be in on it, rather than annoyed and ignoring the posts, but in the future, I won’t pipe in. Many people will not read this particular thread, so if you all don’t let on, neither will I. These characters (there are quite a few, if you follow the links on Pitney’s blog) will also be visiting other blogs, and I won’t break character there at all. But even though you all don’t know me, I’ve been reading your comments for months, or years by now, and I didn’t want to alienate you. Especially because I think that you all are pretty much my ideal audience for this novel.

    I don’t want to make too much of a hard sell here. Obviously, I can’t send the book to people for free, but I’m confident you’d like it if you choose to purchase it.

    Here’s an example of a story I orignally published in Liberty, just to give you some idea of what I do: “Garghibition”

  69. I’m sure that Winston Churchill is spinning rapidly in his grave. On the other hand, Bush is a noted workout junkie, so maybe he’ll get the idea that he can get the GOP back on track by hectoring Americans about their eating habits.

  70. The Irish Gourmet | December 1, 2006, 2:40pm | #

    Fast food was a vast improvement over my Mother’s cooking. Let me put it this way – If we were good we could go to bed without your supper.

    Beep, Beep, Beep… The non sequitur alarm just went off with Irish Gourmet. I’m, a Mick so I should know.

  71. Every recipe started with a pound of butter and a pound of bacon, and the food still sucked.

    Problem is the British boil everything, don’t they? Everybody knows you can’t boil bacon.

  72. So, who really was Jersey McJones and what happened to him?

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