Peter York On Ads

It'll take more than a chirpy cockney to get Britain eating five a day

Portion control is a wonderful bit of catering-speak. It means foil-wrapped pats of butter and coffee sugar in paper twists. It means not wasting and spoiling things in butter dishes and sugar basins and not employing people on site to fill and clear and clean.

Fogey Britain hates the language, with its commercial genteelism, and hates the ideas behind it. Gents take their own decisions about these things; they like the idea of an Edwardian sideboard groaning with glorious waste.

Portion control is also the language of the global diet-and-health lobby. The world can be redeemed and wars and pestilence will cease if only people would eat the right stuff in the right quantities. That's part of the background to the constant wrangles about food labelling between the healthy-eating types and the men and women of big food manufacturing and big grocery retailing. The hard fact is that things they make and sell masses of – from choccy to every kind of industrial starch like bread and cakes – will look alarmingly wrong if you apply the new labelling clearly and truthfully. But cruise any big mainstream supermarket in any poorish area and you'll see great aisles devoted to chocs, sweets, crisps and laboratory soft drinks. Meaning that they're all basic foods for a fair few of the local customer base. It's about poverty (but that's relative in Britain), partly about access – and a lot about ignorance and children's pester-power.

All this is desperately uncomfortable stuff for policymakers, who worry like mad about "imposing middle-class values". The one positive story they have is fruit and veg, those modern saints, and the more portions of them everyone eats, the happier we'll be.

It'd help to define what fruit or vegetables actually are and what a portion is too. I remember reading some British research that showed that a majority of children questioned had eaten a lot less vegetable matter than they were supposed to. And one in 20 hadn't eaten any in the past week. The policy people know pretty well who they are, but they're not saying.

Instead there's a new inclusive government campaign built around a cheery cockney fruit and veg market stallholder and cockney rhyming slang. He's giving you a quick word in your King Lear about eating more fruit and Uncle Reg because you've got to look after the strawberry tart.

This will all go down a tourist treat in foody homes but as for catching the imagination of Badlands Britain in the 21st century, I really don't Adam and Eve it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Lead Systems Developer / Software Developer

COMPETITIVE + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Lead Systems Developer / Sof...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Engagement Manager - French or German Speaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The world's leading financial services careers...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive - 6 Months Contract

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Digital Marketing Executive...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Senior Account Manager

40-45K DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Manager / Senior Account Manag...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future