If you could ban just one food what would it be?
Besides for a handful of picky eaters, most of us humans love a weird and wonderful variety of foods. In fact, during my research into this topic I became more and more shocked and if truth be told a little nauseated by what actually comes under the definition of food. Wouldn’t you if you were reading about the deliciousness of tarantula, eyeball and raw herring? Of course it’s easy to see the oddity of these foods and it’s unlikely they will hit the mainstream anytime soon. Even if they do, it’s doubtful that they will cause much damage to our wellbeing. But, what about the mass produced foodstuffs that have become part of our everyday diet and the effect they have on our health! Are foods like sugar, butter, coke and alcohol really bad for us and would we be better off if they were never discovered?
In hindsight it’s easy to say that sugar, crisps, and alcohol are bad for us, but these foods have been eaten, drank and loved for centuries now, so they are here to stay. A few moments in the history of the food industry has helped to define our health and all because of random discoveries our ancestors stumbled across! Let’s look at some discoveries that have helped to shape our taste buds.
Sugar was only discovered by western Europeans as a result of the Crusades in the 11th Century AD. It quickly became a prized and expensive ‘spice’. These days sugar is everywhere and we know that it has aggravated a type 2 diabetes epidemic. Imagine if sugar had remained undiscovered, supermarket aisles would be empty of sweets, biscuits and chocolate bars, no more bribing kids to clean their room with a bar of choc and the number of overweight kids would be nowhere near the one in three it currently clocks in at.
White bread sits in a ball in the pit of your stomach clogging up the digestive system, as it’s basically an over processed grain. The word’s ‘refined bread’ goes back to the aristocracy as eating refined white bread was a mark of social status hence getting the name! We now know that white bread is actually a poor relative for a healthier wholegrain variety.
French fries or chips have surpassed the humble spud as the most popular potato source in American fast-food restaurants and you can be sure that we aren’t far behind. McDonalds has a whopping 2500 restaurants in the UK at present. Due to the fat content and additional salt added to fries it’s no wonder that cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer in the world today.
Alcohol, somewhat ironically was first discovered in Iran around 4000 years ago. It causes more than 22,000 deaths a year in Britain. Alcoholism and binge drinking are amongst the biggest social problems in the UK and Ireland. Imagine how different the world would be if it was never discovered.
Coke, believe it or not was first marketed in 1885, as a cure for a range of ailments such as morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and impotence. Unsurprisingly it’s the most valuable brand in the world. In my office alone I know at least quarter of the staff have a daily dose of coke. As a consequence we are damaging our teeth with acid and sugar, and our waistlines are expanding. Here’s a little stat to shock you, one can of coke contains a whopping 8 teaspoons of sugar!
Nanny state issues aside, I realise there are knock on effects to outright bans on foods…our dentists would go out of business for a start! But, as the saying goes “those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”. So next time you think a banana, coated it in batter and chocolate is the best thing since white sliced bread, think again!
If you could ban just one food today what would it be?