"..a bardy view!"

Supermarkets, Globalisation and Marmite – a Caveman Perspective….

Marmite1Regular readers of this humble blog will know that I advocate the Paleo Diet aka the Caveman Diet.

The fundamental truth being that prior to the arrival of agriculture 10,000 years ago, man, ie homo sapiens, and even his ancestors in one hominoid form or another, ate only fresh meat, fish, wild vegetables and fruit.

He did this for at least 2.5 million years. Starch, wheat, yeast, grain and cereals, milk, butter and cheese simply did not exist.

They did eat eggs, but only by sneaking up on a nest and nicking them.

Ruminants in the shape of cows were not the creatures which we are familiar with today, and their milk was for their calf. No milk, no butter, no cheese.

Early man would not have stolen milk from another animal to drink. Why would they? Female humans produced milk for their young, just like every other mammal, and that was the way of things (you can read further about my thoughts on this here, and here).

I have to say that it is very difficult to adhere to this diet. Indeed, it is not a diet but a lifestyle, and like all lifestyles some sacrifices must be made. I don't believe one should be besotted with it, as it could impact not only on the day to day, but severely restrict social interaction i.e. visiting friends for dinner or eating out.

So whilst I adhere to the principals of the Paleo Diet, I am unable to remove 10,000 years of my make-up which has conditioned me to like wheat and dairy products.

You see, I like milk in my coffee, I like freshly baked bread, and I like a nice crusty chunk with extra virgin olive oil, with a squash of garlic and herbs. I like my pungent camembert, my blue cheeses, mature English cheddars, and when the fancy takes me, a good dollop of marmite on toast.

But I only eat fresh meat, fish and molluscs, fresh vegetables and fruit, and I've forgotten when I last ate a potato – mashed, boiled, roasted or fried.

I certainly don't miss my spuds. Not missing spuds also means not missing burger and chips, chicken and chips and kebab and chips, (e.g. MacDonald’s/Burger King, KFC etc.) nor Chinese or Indian meals which are invariably laced with msg and thickening agents along with ingredients which would require a food technologist to analyse.

Nor do I miss the processed foods like hams, hotdogs, luncheon meats, or anything else which have been mechanically garnered and mass produced, exposed to the world in a tin or packet. My salt consumption is less in one week than the recommended daily allowance – which is a jolly nice thought when I decide to treat myself with my gorgonzola or stilton.

So my point is that we can eat healthily, cut down on salt, sugar, saturated fats, and still enjoy our food.

I do believe that many of mankind's ailments today are a result of our recent diet which leads to obesity and all of the associated problems linked to it, such as diabetes, and heart disease.

 I think there is nothing finer that a good rib of beef, roasted in its own juices or a pork chop with a decent inch of crispy skin on it. Health freaks and even the nanny state will tell you that animal fats are bad, and that's why it's virtually impossible to buy a cut of meat in a supermarket without the fat trimmed off.

If the fat is bad it's because the animal has been fed on grains not grass, but finding naturally grazed beef on the shelves is virtually impossible, and only select farmers produce it. Hence there is a premium to pay – but if we all demanded this type of raised beef, then more farmers would dedicate themselves to it, and whilst we may have to pay more for it, surely it's better to feed the kids with some decent meat once a week, than ram industrial eviscerated offal and scraps shaped like chicken nuggets down their throats?

It's rather ironic that in this time of the London Olympics, the chief sponsors are MacDonald’s and Coca Cola. If we lived on their products every day then we'd hardly be able to walk a mile never mind take an active part in what is, above all, a celebration of health, fitness and sporting achievement.

Cynics of course will point out that the global population is far greater than it was in pre-agriculture times, and the people need feeding.  Agriculture is the only way to grow sufficient food and through science preserve it. I tend to agree, but it’s not that simple.

I came to this dining table rather late in life – well late compared to the average lifespan of Palaeolithic man, who (the same cynics would argue) didn't live very long. True – but bone analysis of their skeletons showed no evidence of tooth decay or osteoporosis for example. Yes there is evidence of axe, spear and animal wounds, and sacrificial burial, but that is a separate issue altogether. After all they had to die of something.

It's well established now that processed food is bad for us. It is cheap, unhealthy and convenient. But we don't have to eat it.

I don't accept the argument that parents are too busy these days to cook a decent meal. A little thought and preparation will ensure their children are fed properly.

There are two arguments. The first as I have just implied that busy lifestyles prevent a good diet and the second that low income families can't afford to be selective. Neither holds water. Rich or poor good food is available – it's just a question of mind set, focus and willingness.

If people are on low incomes, unemployed or state dependant, then they have the time to source good food, budget for it, and cook it. If people are sufficiently wealthy to go out for a meal every day or order take-away, then they are too lazy and placing their work over and above the health of their family. Neither presupposes that one is less intelligent than the other.

A controversial view you may say, after all, life is a dammed pressure these days and "I work my bollocks off trying to pay for the mortgage, keep my head above water, pay the bills, run around after the kids, and I don't have time to plan a decent meal, in fact I barely have time to go shopping at all?"

Tell that to Tesco, where I am often stuck behind someone in the check-out with a trolley of food – filled to the brim with biscuits, crisps, frozen meals like burgers, pizzas, and sugary drinks etc., and who happily pays £100 a hit for them. They generally buy too much, because supermarkets are experts at fooling their customers with special offers, buy one get one free campaigns, indeed they manage to sell stuff which nobody needs but convince us that the offer is so good we would be a crazy to miss out!

We have become pawns to the manufacturers, and merely playthings to their profit and loss margins. We are their fodder, and the fodder they provide to us is, candidly speaking, utter rubbish.

We are conditioned to believe that they act on our behalf, that they provide cheap but nutritional food. Tell that to the farmers who are held over the barrel, which need the giant supermarkets to sell their produce, and dictate the prices.

It's time we all realised that we are victims of a great con. More and more of us are dependent on the big supermarkets because they have priced the local shopkeeper out of the market.

Our high streets are devoid of traditional bakers, butchers, fishmongers and grocers. They have been replaced by tanning salons, nail salons, estate agents, Polish Deli's, charity shops, and take-away food outlets. Pretty soon the only place to shop in the UK (at least), will be the out of town supermarket offering free parking, cash points, banking facilities, pharmacists, photographic facilities, insurance desks, newsagents, coffee shops, toilets, electric and furniture goods, pet supplies, vets, and so on ad nausea – all under one roof – oh, and don't forget the food and drink which they sell us. I almost forgot about that.

The Americanisation of Britain is well under way. In the USA malls are king. Yet that is understandable – it's a big country with a sorely lacking public transport system – but in Britain our towns and villages were built around the local high street with all of its necessity and services – and they along with our choices are rapidly disappearing.

In Europe – France, Spain and Italy they are maintaining their culture. Local shops are key to quality fresh food. They at least are holding out.

I began this post about diet. Diet is a cultural thing. It identifies us. We aren't cavemen anymore, but that doesn't mean we must succumb to globalisation which eventually, if left untamed, will take away our individuality.

I don't want to see the multi-nationals invading every aspect of our lives. I don't want to see a MacDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut or Burger King on every corner. I don't want to have to drive five miles to worship in the cathedral of Tesco. I want my high street back – somewhere I can walk down with leisure and reconnect with real people and not be a faceless, nameless statistic in a supermarket check-out.  Is that too much to ask?

The choices in the supermarkets are their choices not ours. And those choices are severely loaded against us.

I'd rather be a caveman with independant thought than a modern man who has lost the will to think.




July 22, 2012 - Posted by | Books, Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Diet, Education, Europe, Events, History, Italy, London, Olympic Games, Politics, Religion, Science, Sport, United Kingdom, USA | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Couldn’t agree with you more and well said. I also like Marmite, funnily enough.


    Comment by Spook Moor | July 23, 2012 | Reply

  2. Sound like very informative and thought provoking segment you have allocated here. I think this perspective will be admired by all. Thanks


    Comment by Filip Norman | August 28, 2012 | Reply

  3. Thanks for your comment Filip. Sometimes it’s important to step back and view things from a different perspective.


    Comment by Bar De Ness | August 31, 2012 | Reply

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