What does food mean to you?
I am back from my forth trip to New Zealand. It is one of the most amazing places I have been to. From landscape to food, from the people to their attitudes. Of course there are similarities in some aspects, New Zealand is made up of many Brits and like the UK it has a huge diversity of people. The landscape isn’t dissimilar in parts yet the lifestyle is.
Our attitude to food in the UK couldn’t be more different. We love the whole convenience of brands like Costa, Starbucks and Pret. I struggled to see these places in New Zealand (not that I was looking for them), but on a very long road trip to Wellington last week I stopped in a small town called Dannivirke and found a very nice cafe that produced the most fantastic food. A choice that is like no other in the context of wanting something small and fast in order the satisfy hunger that sitting in a car does to us.
I don’t drink milk and I don’t drink normal tea, so asking for rooibos is nothing. They all have it and then to be able to have it with almond milk is like a miracle.
The last time I asked for non-dairy milk in the UK and they didn’t have it surprised me. I ended up asking the person ‘how come?’ They came back with some lacklustre answer ‘I don’t know’. It bothers me in this day an age that no one really cares about the way we have moved so far in society that food isn’t really sophisticated enough to supply gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and so on.
I can guarantee that in New Zealand it is standard. And considering that they have a minute population they still are able to provide such great quality and diverse choices. In the UK, we have to pay a fortune for good quality, differing choice food. It is something that have become used to. It is inherent in us to put up with crap that is affecting our health and our environment.
Food is something we should be celebrating. Why do we put up with such bad choices in the UK? Is it because we are British and we cannot speak out because it is embarrassing or we cannot possibly express ourselves.
We have companies such as Pret-A-Manger which are pretty acceptable in the context of healthy eating in the form of a chain. They do a lot in the way of ethics. Central London has some great places to eat and if you live in a town like mine, Wallingford in south Oxfordshire then the demand is there to have great food.
But sadly many places in the UK have such places like chicken shops that produce high calorie, high fat and high sugar products. They come up like wildfire and many of us will eat them. In the few towns I went to in New Zealand I saw only one famous chicken shop in the centre of Auckland. These are pretty much drowned out by healthy eating places or sushi eateries.
We vote with our feet when it comes to food, and if we go to cheap crappy eateries then we may end up looking the food that comes out of them!