On this side of the pond a week or so ago there was a fair amount in the news about something other than Brexit or Donald Trump. Wow what a relief. Let’s forget for a moment that Article 50, something of which I was blissfully ignorant this tinme twelve months ago, could be triggered this week, with David Davies, a politician I trust marginally more than Donald Trump, though it’s a fine line, arguing that MPs should put their trust in Mrs May and let her negotiate without caveat, let, or hindrance from Parliament.
Let’s forget that this country’s (by which I mean the UK, the whole damn fine divided lot of it) finest achievement, the National Health Service, is being brought to its tender knees by cynical bastards who make its work impossible and then denounce it as failing. Let’s forget that this monumental, pioneering institution that has radically improved the health of people lucky enough to live in the UK was created at a time that made our current period of austerity seem laughably luxurious and tell people we, one of the richest countries on planet earth, cannot afford to uphold and defend the NHS’ principles, but we can afford to pay millions to leave the EU, our most important trading partner.
Governments, at least those here in the UK, speak with forked tongues. They don’t want us to smoke, but raise huge revenues on taxes on tobacco. A packet of twenty cigarettes here costs a staggering £10. They want us to be frugal, to be financially responsible, but the economy is driven by consumer spending. They want us to be healthy, to make sensible decisions about our food, yet encourage farmers to cut corners in animal husbandry, be market led, use pesticides and goodness only knows what.
Previously we were encouraged to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. That’s now been doubled. From the reaction in even serious papers like The Guardian, you’d think this was a totally outrageous, ridiculous idea. This is a fairly typical example. OMG, do I have to deny myself Diet Coke, crap food that makes me fat and is full of additives, chips, sugary cereals, and eat green vegetables? Nobody wants to do that.
Well, actually, yes, some of us do. That article left me feeling alienated; adrift even. I grew up in the UK and I love vegetables. I have always loved vegetables. I did not have to be force fed spinach/cabbage/cauliflower, they are delicious. My sister and I used to fight over the cauliflower stalk – sweet and satisfyingly crunchy, we would hover by my mother as she prepared meals waiting for the moment to pounce. My cucumber habit as a child was so strong I had to buy my own so that family would not have a cucumberless salad. I spent pocket money on mushrooms, on lettuce plants, on strawberries, peaches and apricots.
My parents grew purple sprouting, runner beans, marrows, apples, raspberries and more in the back garden our our semi. Later Dad had a green house and added cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow and red, courgettes, and I don’t remember what else to his annual harvest. The runner beans were his favourite; two rows, one to eat, one to freeze and enjoy through winter, We called him Bean Man. Our summer dinners were mountains of runner beans with the rest of the meal nestled coyly in the foothills. It seemed completely normal until my brother-in-law arrived on the scene and made a comment that surprised at least three of us.
Anyway, the newspaper articles made me start counting my daily veg and fruit intake. On most days I reach twelve or fourteen. Occasionally it’s a higher tally, very occasionaally I scrape a modest ten.
Here’s today’s quota:
Breakfast – porridge with blueberries and banana = 2
Elevenses – grapes = 1
Lunch – stir fry, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, onion, tofu, egg noodles, black beans, kale, broad beans, chilli = 5
Pudding – grapes = 1
Late afternoon snack- carrots = 1
Supper – butter beans, mushrooms, leek, tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, celery, red wine = 7
Pudding – orange = 1
Total = 18
However, the powers that be have decreed that a vegetable only counts once, however many portions you eat, and that only one portion of pulses count, so I have to subtract one portion of mushrooms, one portion of kale, one portion of grapes, and one portion of pulses. I’m not sure where tofu fits in, so I am not counting it all all. Neither am I including the red wine, which though made from grapes, doesn’t count at all, but as I am already including a bunch of grapes in my calculations, even if it did I should have to discount it. The fresh ginger (about a teaspoonful), the garlic (three cloves), and the chilli (half a teaspoonful), individually seem too small to count, so I am excluding them too, despite the fact that are undoubtably elgible.
So if I have added and subtracted everything correctly, I have a tally of 14. Without trying. The biggest problem I have, apart from my kale addiction, is accommodating the veg in my not overlarge fridge. Any suggestions?