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Waistlines: The Only Thing Benefitting From Our Ignorance of Food

12/08/2014 13:01 BST | Updated 11/10/2014 10:59 BST

A weird situation has developed: globally around one billion people are malnourished and conversely two billion are obese. One might argue that if the weight on the scales was redistributed, some form of equilibrium could be found.

In the UK we repeatedly label it as an 'epidemic' and now the NHS and government are leading a charge against the influx of fat. Gastric bands, liposuction, cosmetic surgery and obsessive dieting are all employed to rid us of our excess pounds.

I'm writing this not long after watching Great British Bake Off. Now I'm not brave enough to slate GBBO and take on its army of fans, but the programme does exemplify a point. We're bombarded with food.

'We don't actually know what we're cooking'

This week twelve people cooked an exquisite, or in some cases not so exquisite, range of delights for the enjoyment of both Mary B and the audience. On the same day the BBC alone broadcast four other television programmes totally focussed on food or with a strong food element.

Whether it's food channels on YouTube, apps on our smartphones, TV programmes, recipe books, radio shows, leaflets or websites we're repeatedly taught how to cook great food. Food from every corner of the earth with varying levels of appreciation for health and wellbeing. In fact we're too good at cooking food, yet we don't actually know what we're cooking.

Put your hand up if you know what brisket is, a chump of lamb, hand of pork or haunch of venison. We devour food and don't know what we're eating. The equivalent would learning to drive a car without knowledge of the brake pedal, the only thing possible would be to go faster and faster. With regards to food we're getting fatter and fatter.

Breathing aside food is the one thing that unites us all, however as consumers we're so ignorant of what we're eating - a situation that's been exacerbated by the boom of ready meals. Need I remind anyone of the horsemeat scandal? Long gone are the days of a little bit of everything, we connect with so few foodstuffs, that we now have a lot of little.

Being killed by the food we eat

We've developed a grab-it-and-run approach to shopping and as a result supermarkets clamour to sell us the one thing we really yearn for, convenience. The issue is convenience doesn't equal education - any school teacher would attest to that, it equals unawareness.

Resultantly in the last thirty years over sixteen-thousand high street butcher's shops have closed and with them the opportunity to learn about meat and the various cuts. Food technology was scrapped from the curriculum until the dawning realisation that children were growing up oblivious of how to feed themselves.

Knowledge isn't missed until it's gone and as consumers of food we can't afford to find ourselves in a situation where a lack of food education has an even greater impact on our lives and bodies. As consumers we need to demand more information and understanding, conversely broadcasters, retailers and producers have to up the levels on offer.

There's a deep sense of irony and tragedy that one of the building blocks of life is quietly destroying it too. We can't close our eyes forever.

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