Monday, 17 October 2016


                                 Food: When did it become about more than just having enough?

"IS THERE anything to eat in the house?"

Had I five cents, every time I hear that comment, I'd have an annoying amount of copper change.

But it seems to be one of those universal questions. Like, "are we there yet?" and "can we go now?".

Am I the only parent who doesn't get any thanks when she points to the fruit bowl?  

Have they put on a sugar tax?

But food, or at least the kind most youngsters love, and most parents try to minimise, is in the news in Ireland at the moment.

     "I have a really important question," the youngest said, as soon as he came out of school on Budget Day last week. "Have they put on a sugar tax?"

I'd caught snippets of the budget during the day. I hadn't heard anything about the proposed tax on sugary foods. We are, presumably, slapping on that tax for the same reasons other countries are doing it: in a bid to combat obesity.

Marmite is being pulled from the shelves.
     "I don't know. Would it matter if they did?" I asked. He appeared to think about it.

     "Well, I'd need more money to buy a bar of chocolate. And you give me my pocket money. So it'd probably matter to you."

He was polite as he pointed this out. I couldn't fault his logic.

But food is a hungry issue in Ireland right now.

One of the reasons is Brexit. Since Britain's decision to leave the European Union, the pound has plunged in value. Now consumer giant Unilever is hiking up wholesale prices for its products by a reported 10 percent, to help balance the books.

Are we just fussy?

Which means that in many of our big supermarkets, well known imported items like Marmite, Pot Noodles and Ben & Jerrys are being pulled from the shelves.

I'm still recovering from the shock of discovering that Unilever makes Ben & Jerrys. For too long I've clung to the fantasy that two fabulous men, dedicated to ice cream pleasure, make the stuff in their kitchens, package it, and send it, Santa-like all around the world. But I digress.

And sugar tax and Brexit aside, here's the really sticky issue. Food itself. Can anyone remember a time when food was so contentious? Are we really more aware? More allergic? More intolerant to gluten and dairy? Or are we just fussy?

As Halloween approaches, I'll be stocking up on sweets to hand out to the Trick-or-Treaters at the door. There's no point in mentioning that as a child, my loot on October 31st contained apples and nuts. Because that makes me a hundred years old.

Besides which, every single child now has a nut allergy. I know, because they're quite articulate about it.
     "Sorry, I can't have those nuts because me mam says I'm allergic."
     "Oh gosh, I'd better not give you any of these peanut bars, so."
     "Ah no, I'm not allergic to them."

However, if sugary treats do get a price hike, I'll be rationing them this Halloween.

I'll also offer apples. Organic, of course.

If anyone has a more insightful suggestion, let me know.

Wishing you a warm hello from Dublin; thanks a million for dropping in today. Please feel free to leave a comment.

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