Tag Archives: health

London butcher swaps meat slabs for watermelon slices

26 Aug
Master Butcher ditches meat for watermelon

Master Butcher ditches meat for watermelon

Breaking news from Notting Hill Carnival – Portobello Road Master Butcher ‘sees the light’ and swaps slabs of meat for slices of watermelon.

If only this was true, at least for non-carnival days. I fear the only light this butcher has seen is the glimmer of gold coins raining down from the dangly purses of girls desperate to pee. At £2.50 a tinkle, this butcher is carving a fortune from the two days of Europe’s biggest street festival.  Why not? But sadly this line up of watermelon is the only sign of raw fruit/vegetable available to the 1 million visitors. The streets are a smoky haze of carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the result of cooking meat (jerk chicken) at super high temperatures.  Apparently 5 tonnes of jerk chicken are sold each year…That’s a lot of carcinogens…

Watermelon on the other hand is a gift from Mother Universe. Watermelon may have a bad rap as having high GI (glycaemic index) of 72 but because it is constructed of fibre and water, when you look at its GL (glycaemic load) of 4– you need to eat 17 croissants/weetabix to reach the same total GI (McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods).

In fact, watermelon may be the perfect accompaniment to HCA rich BBQ food as it is rammed with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, capable of mopping up some of the carcinogenic free radicals. It’s high in beta carotene, a great source of Vitamin A, essential for eyesight and preventing glaucoma.  Watermelon is high in Vitamin Bs, particularly B1 (maintains electrolytes) and B6 (converts food to energy, good for red blood cells, immune system).  The gorgeous reddy colour of watermelon means it is full of tomato famous lycopene, yet another antioxidant proven to minimize cancer risks. There is also loads of potassium (water retention, gets rid of kidney stones) and magnesium (the metabolism mineral, sleep, tension, irritability, cramps, heart attacks)

Mmmm jerk chicken vs watermelon? Fingers crossed our master butcher is leading a new trend in carnival food…

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Hamburgers and fried chicken are in my culture. Fruit and vegetables are out.

6 Mar

'It's not my fault I like fried chicken. It's my culture...'

1. Taste. 2. Price. 3. Convenience…1,204,895. Health.

According to the recent newsletter from Food and Drink Europe, a  survey of 200 Spanish consumers, published in Journal of Sensory Studies, showed that health and weight loss barely make our list of priorities when choosing what food to buy.  Pretty obvious results but as we dig deeper in the newsletter we discover that what influences our choice of taste is predominantly culture. And one of the problems us fat and sugar addicted people have is that we don’t want to give up our culture to eat healthily.  Well – we gave up eating healthily to eat badly didn’t we?  In fact – if we go way, way, way back – one could argue that our one true culture of food consumption is raw fruits and vegetables.

Carrillo and colleagues explained that fats and sugars provide major contributions to the sensory and palatable characteristics of foods, but the high availability of energy-dense foods in developed countries – particularly in the U.S and countries within the European Union – promotes preferences that are inconsistent with dietary guidelines and have a direct relationship to wider obesity problems.

“Increased consumption of foods with high proportions of these components is mainly due to taste preference, aroma and mouth-feel characteristics,” they added.

However non-sensory aspects of food choice, such as culture, can also have a major impact on food preference.

For example, previous research (Ethnicity & Health, Vol 9(4):349-67) suggested that certain populations of African-Americans in the US believe that ‘eating healthily’ would mean giving up part of their cultural heritage, and trying to conform to the dominant culture.’

This study initially frustrated me but on second thought it is inspiring. The solution to shifting our behaviours is simple – we just have to make healthy food sensorally attractive and culturally familiar.