Jamie Oliver has gone too far this time
Jamie Oliver recently went spoke to MPs about banning superheroes and cartoon characters from food packaging.
Characters that have been around forever, before there was an obesity epidemic. Characters that are older than Jamie Oliver. He’s claiming that it’s the characters adding to the obesity epidemic. Think about that… It’s the character’s fault. Wait, what?!
I’ve never been a fan of Jamie Oliver’s. He promotes healthy eating which I agree with, but all of his recipes are over the top expensive, and take too much time to prepare (regardless if he says you can cook them in 30 minutes or less). He means HE can cook them in under 30 minutes. I honestly don’t have the speed and knife skills that a professional chef does. I also don’t have all of my produce pre-prepped and in neat little portioned containers. Do you?
We’re already paying the sugar tax here in the UK. Now we have to listen to celebrity chefs continue to spout off about obesity? How many chefs have you seen on TV are overweight or obese themselves? Practice what you preach, chefs.
Another reason I am not thrilled with Mr. Oliver is simply because he’s hypocritical. He has led the movement for taxation on sugary foods, but continues to defend the sugar content in his own dishes claiming they are well balanced. Well balanced or not, they still have too much sugar. Maybe you should reduce the sugar content in YOUR products, Mr Oliver! Quit using cartoon characters to promote your recipes! Hypocrite much?
Jamie Oliver used Moshi Monster Furi to promote his sugar fulled butternut squash muffins in a video posted on his website.
The cost of fresh food vs packaged
This afternoon I forced myself to watch one of the videos Jamie Oliver posted on Twitter about his white asparagus and ricotta ravioli that he sells in his restaurants for over £14 per serving. I then went to the Tesco and Waitrose sites to check prices on how much it would cost me to make a batch of this at home for my family (my guys are big eaters).
This recipe (using green asparagus instead of white because I couldn’t find white asparagus that wasn’t packaged in glass jars) costs roughly £16.34 for one meal, making everything from scratch except the vegetable stock. ONE MEAL! I don’t know about you, but that’s too way too much to spend on one meal for the average UK family. How can people on limited budgets afford this? Answer: they can’t.
My usual grocery budget hovers between £50 to £80 per week, which includes everything from the usual grocery fare plus essentials like toilet paper, dish soap, laundry soap, and other household goods. It also includes all the snacks that my guys inhale on a regular basis. If I spent all of my days cooking instead of working and doing the basic household management, I’d not only have less time for my family and my job, but I’d also be £343.14 out of pocket every week just on the food bill. This is using that £16.34 as a standard cost per meal – 7 days, 21 meals.
How can a man who touts healthy, fresh meals as gospel push his ideals on families who survive on much less than what he makes by just existing? We don’t all get our groceries at wholesale price, Jamie!
Instead, I know I can create a semi-healthy meal for my family that includes a day of leftovers for less than £5 per meal while using pre-packaged items. Yes, we eat a lot of beans, rice, tinned tomatoes, and packaged dry pasta (the horror!), but at least it’s affordable.
I am not blind – I read the letter that he wrote to Theresa May that was signed by Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. You can read the letter for your self, posted below. I know he’s trying to change the way we eat. He’s trying to force corporations to label their products to show just how much salt, fat, and sugar it has in it, and effectively make it more expensive to buy these products. That part is ok. The part I don’t agree with is banning cartoon characters from packaging just because our kids are getting fat.
Jamie Oliver’s letter to MP Theresa May
Kids are getting fat due to parents not actually parenting and regulating what their child is consuming, or making them look up from their ipad/phone/tv screens and go outside to play anymore.
Children’s food packaging
I’m from the Cereal City Capital of the world. The Kellogg and Post cereal companies were founded in my hometown. We never had the problem of Tony the Tiger jumping off of the cereal box and cheekily whispering in our ears “hey, there’s tons of sugar in this cereal, beg your parents until they buy it!” If we asked for it and my mom said no, that was the end of the story. See, it all boils down to that pesky thing called parenting again.
Companies have always used enticing characters, bright colors, and targeted ads for their foods aimed at children. They do it with products aimed toward adults too, it’s called company branding and brand recognition. Flashy packaging for children’s products are made that way because kids have short attention spans, and flit from one thing to the next in the blink of an eye. They need to grab their limited attention while they can, so “pester power” will reign supreme.
Large corporations like Kellogg know that when they use kid-centric packaging, their profit margins go up. Not only does it grab the attention of today’s children, it also holds nostalgia for people who grew up seeing these characters regularly in advertisements and in grocery stores.
Why do you think Coca Cola has bright red product branding? Because it catches the eye of the consumer while they’re looking at the shelf.
You all know I’m partial to a bit of cake or a bag of Haribo. I also know that it’s bad for my health, but I choose to eat it anyway. Why? Because it’s my choice, it’s tasty, and I’m the one purchasing it. Do I also eat fresh vegetables? Yes, copious amounts.
Now, as a responsible parent I do limit the amount of sugar Punky eats, because who wants to try to wrangle a child hopped up on sugar on a daily basis? It’s my job as a parent to make sure he has adequate nutrition. Punky is the type of boy who would always choose sweets over fruit and veg (as every child is), but he doesn’t have that choice. I’m his mother, I do the weekly meal planning, and I buy the groceries.
Parents, it’s your responsibility to feed your families healthy foods when you can. It’s also imperative that our kids get in more daily exercise. Whether it’s a couple of hours at the park, a walk around the block, or even just dancing around in the living room, help them get active!
This whole issue stems from parents with clear boundary issues regarding their children. For those of us who don’t give in to every little childhood whim, the characters on the box aren’t an issue. Tony the Tiger and the Honey Monster are not the enemy. Giving in to your child’s screaming throughout the grocery store because they want a specific item is the problem.
I get it, I’d rather sit at the computer or play on my phone all day too (which has helped contribute to my own obesity problem). But it’s ultimately the parents’ responsibility to give their kids clear examples of healthy choices – that means you eating healthy foods instead of a constant stream of junk, getting off your butt and moving too. Involve your kids in the cooking process. Punky likes to help me peel and chop veg for dinner. If he helps me prep, he’s more likely to eat what I serve him.
I don’t admonish parents for choosing junk food over healthy food. Honestly, sometimes it’s cheaper (and saves your sanity!) to go to McDonalds than cook a meal from scratch. Sometimes you have to choose pre-packaged meals over fresh because its four days before payday, you’ve just caught up on your bills and you’re broke. I get it! I don’t judge you.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think the government needs to step back and stop trying to regulate everything. Let parents actually make our own choices instead of trying to force new laws and taxes on people.
We’ve already got the sugar tax. They’ve raised taxes on alcohol and tobacco, again (just another example of tax to regulate consumption). Food prices are steadily going up. Our council tax and utility costs have also risen within the last few months. It’s getting harder to afford the basics in the UK.
Forcing the healthy eating agenda when people are already stressed and stretched to the max isn’t helping anyone. It makes us feel judged, like we’re not doing enough for our families already.
Education about better food choices at a lower price point, lower food costs in general, and support for families that need it would do more for the community than another tax or law ever would.
Everyone knows what the food pyramid is. But, not everyone knows how to effectively make a grocery list, or how to manage a household budget. Not everyone knows how to meal plan, or even how to measure a serving size. These are the things that need to be taught to the whole population. Whether education is implemented in online communities, in local classes, or even as part of the high school curriculum.
If the government wants to get involved, this is where they should start. Just leave my cute cartoon character covered packaging alone. Sometimes a woman needs a pot of yoghurt with princesses on it.