Peter York On Ads: A corny ad for a baked tile - pass the Pringles

RYVITA

British food remains practically the worst in the universe. That's what Joanna Blythman's saying in her new book Bad Food Britain: How A Nation Ruined Its Appetite. Of course she's talking about what people actually eat at scale, not what Fay and Henrietta, Giles and Adrian write about, or what we get in the lovely Lidgate/Felicitous/Fromagerie world of Big London. She's on about industrial food, made in Liverpool or Swansea factories. Stuff from a conveyor with an interestingly long sell-by tolerance.

She means the groaning aisles of crisps and paracrisps in any big supermarket. And the acres of bulk sweets and chocolates in Woolworths. We're Europe's crisp champions by a mile - we eat more than the rest of Europe put together. The sweets contribute to another UK achievement - particularly in the Celtic fringe - we're top of the European edentulous league table with more toothless lads and lasses than anywhere. And then there's our world-beating rates of heart disease, with its contributory levels of obesity - we're Europe's fattest and challenging the next generation of Americans for the World Series.

The particular pleasure in all this, of course, is that we know it's all down to Vicky Pollard and the chavtastic world of the huge heaving underclass. The Mob; Hogarthians in hoodies. Shameless people who've never cooked with extra-virgin, never eaten one, let alone five, helpings of fruit and vegetables a day.

That's me. I've eaten festering industrial food for so long its amazing I'm alive. From the moment I could choose I went for anything with a melted cheese topping, or a strong blast of MSG (Killer Salt always was my favourite food). Kraft's glorious orange cheese slices were so obviously better than mature cheddar cut off a wheel. Tinned Chicken Supreme in white sauce poured over white rice never needed vegetables. While my friends argued for authentic everything, I followed each successive wave of fast food out and convenience stuff at home. Time was I lived on those tasty Marks and Spencer briquettes, 20 kinds of chicken in sauce with two veg, one of them pure carbo. All this while reading generations of middle-class food propaganda, eating concept-on-a-plate in new restaurants for 25 years and listening to my foodie friends (Foodies eat in a very particular grazing kind of way - "try this, I got it from a woman just outside Lyme Regis - she's 85. Does it all on a Calor Gas ring").

I'm price-sensitive too. I'll have the cheaper one thank you. Organic versus ordinary - it costs more than twice as much (and what if I'd got four children?). "Hand-made food" is incredibly expensive and potentially rather disgusting. You want a nice stainless-steel robot doing all that.

For every scare there's another explanation and - in every dream home a heartache - precisely the smart people who avoid convenient industrial white bread adore the free-form Art Bread in any restaurant with pretentions. Dip it in oil, ladle it with unsalted Normandy butter, and gloriously unpasteurised cheese and you've got pretty much the same high cholesterol, free carb' sort of mix you'd get with several tubes of Pringles.

I never know where all this leaves Ryvita. On the face of it Ryvita's a sort of saint. It's made from rye - one up from wheat they say. And it's wholegrain. So it's a high Glycaemic Index, slow release, complex calorie story. And yet - except for the multi-grain version - it's rather charmless. How's it made? They say they just add lovely salt and then bake it to bits, like a tile. (But what does the baking do? The Great Industrial Baking Scare said everything cooked at these massive temperatures is ultra-carcinogenic.) And it's creepy that it seems to last for ever.

Now Ryvita's moving towards silly-sounding brand extensions like the Goodness Bar. They're avoiding making an uncluttered simplicity and ingredients claim - I would've thought they had a bit of a competitive advantage there - in favour of an awful heavy-handed Rocky Horror Show Gothic kind of commercial I haven't seen for 20 years - long fingernails, women begging "spare me master", the whole corny lot. Buried in there are some claims - 62 calories, 3 per cent fat, no sugar - sounding so weaselly you want to trace every grain. They'd have been miles better off with a farmers' market.

Peter@sru.co.uk

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam