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Jocasta Jones,Amy Lewin
Sunday 03 November 2013 01:00
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Click image to enlarge

Middle-class problems: Ready meals

By Amy Lewin

It's Friday evening, and you want nothing more than to leave work and eat something special to signal the arrival of the weekend. The only problem is that you, like nearly every other respectable middle-classer, don't live in a hipster haven but in the sensible suburbs. Which means there isn't a Korean or Peruvian restaurant on your high street and those pop-up vans selling jerk chicken you keep reading about just don't drive out your way.

Cook something exotic yourself? Nice idea, but you're tired from the working week, so you'll just have to resort to one of those lovingly pre-prepared, preservative- and additive-free, super-nutritional packages on offer at your local supermarket. OK, we're talking ready meals.

And these days, ready meals are just like dining at the finest resaurants, right? If only, somewhere in the back of your middle-class mind, you didn't have those niggling doubts about those nebulous claims on that unnecessary packaging.

Stop worrying: there's three (three!) of your five-a-day among the okra, samphire et al. "But where do the ingredients come from?" a gremlin in your brain squeals. Never fear, the packaging comforts, these are "responsibly sourced".

Hordes of clipboard-holders must surely have verified each and every rice paddy and mango plantation; the workers on these farms probably whistle while they work, you reason – before realising that this little plastic container has notched up more miles than George Clooney in Up in the Air.

Pasta pesto it is, then.

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