Azara Blog: Raymond Blanc wants people to spend more on food

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Date published: 2008/12/23

For some reason (evidently it pays to be rich and famous) Raymond Blanc is given rein to write a long piece on the BBC, which for the first half just rehashes trite commentary about Christmas customs. But he finally gets to the real point of his article in the second half, with the usual middle class (i.e. rich person's) diatribe against "cheap" food:

It's the one time of year when, even if we don't splash out on an organic turkey, we do ungrudgingly spend a little more than usual on our food.

If only it were possible for us to adopt this attitude for the rest of the year, what a difference it would make to our agriculture, to our regions, to our farmers and to our well-being.

Merely by dint of the fact that we allow ourselves a few food "luxuries" in our Christmas shopping, we trade up from our normal diet, and we try to buy food of a better quality than what we consume the rest of the year.

Admitting this to ourselves is the first step in improving our diet - and our relationship to the sources of our food.

Yes, we can tell the difference. Food that has been grown for its quality, not its quantity, is in the end better for our enjoyment, our families and better for the environment. I don't need to argue this - deep down, we all know it's true.

I have little time for those who patronise the poor by saying that they can't actually afford better food.

We can all afford better food - it is a question of priorities. Sadly, we in Britain choose to spend a lower proportion of our disposable income on our food than do other people in Europe.

Every British government since World War II has colluded in this skewed value system by pursuing a policy of cheap food.

We don't need cheap food any more than we need junk food. We need good, wholesome, nutritious, interesting food, sold at a realistic price, and grown in a way that does not damage the environment but enhances it.

And if that means saving a bit of money by spending less on the tinsel, why, what better time than Christmas to learn that lesson and teach it to our children?

Well, Blanc doesn't "patronise the poor by saying that they can't actually afford better food". No, he is much better. He patronises the poor by saying "we don't need cheap food". Only rich (middle class) people ever say things like that. Given that Blanc runs one of the most expensive restaurants in the country, he is not exactly promoting "good, wholesome, nutritious, interesting food, sold at a realistic price". McDonald's does a better job of that than he does.

And surprise. The more you spend on something generally the higher the quality. Who would have thought it, eh. Who would have thought that a Mercedes was better quality than a Fiat? (Or at least it was before Mercedes-Benz went down market.) Who would have thought that a Mac was better quality than a PC? Who would have thought that Harrods had better food than Asda? This Blanc guy is a genius.

It is not up to the middle class people who run Britain to preach to the ordinary people of Britain what to eat and what not to eat. Ordinary people are perfectly capable of deciding this by themselves, without being patronised.

Unfortunately the BBC is run by middle class people like Blanc, and so there is a regular diet of this kind of diatribe. Indeed, the worst programme on Radio 4 (so even worse than Women's Hour) is the Food Programme, where the BBC dishes out weekly diatribes just like Blanc's article.

This kind of middle class snobbery dates back to at least William Morris, and presumably before. The rich always like to think of themselves as superior to everyone else, and being able to show off is what ultimately drives this snobbery.

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