Monday, 29 August 2011

Chocolate is good for you – some newspaper reports are not

According to the Telegraph, the NHS has finally decided to recommend some ‘superfoods’ to Joe and Joanna Public.

It seems that there might have been some straws and a camel involved along the route to this new approach, as assorted foods and supplements have been promoted to the public as having benefits close to immortality in some cases – and with varying levels of concomitant profit for their producers.

There certainly seems to be some evidence for some of the supplements that are currently popular, as illustrated by the website Snake Oil – the scientific evidence for popular health supplements, which manages to be lovely to look at too as well as very informative.

Also coming in on the matter, another report in the same paper (and elsewhere) claims that chocolate is good for you.

Not that this is new: see the same Snake Oil site above for there being good scientific foundations to believe that chocolate may be beneficial – and that doesn’t even mention it in terms of a mood enhancer.

Indeed, a few years ago, Dutch (I think) scientists produced research collated from a mass of data that purported to show the ‘perfect’ diet.

It was, in essence, the ‘Mediterranean’ diet – with a glass or two of red wine per day and a square or two of proper chocolate.

Much of the advice on ‘superfoods’ will not come as any great revelation to many of us.

But the Telegraph’s report also suggests that you can find these real ‘super’ foods not in your expensive deli, but in the supermarket.

Yes. Abandon your ‘expensive’ deli – which only sells faddy foods, one might assume – and look to ‘supermarket superfoods’.

Why don’t they just go and give the supermarkets a licence to print more damned money?

Not that that’s what the report itself actually says. Miracle Foods and the Media was first published in January this year – and indeed, is dated in February (the pdf address includes this).

No wonder the Telegraph didn’t want to actually provide a link to the report – it’s hardly news and it doesn’t include the supermarket slant.

Not that aren’t issues with health advice in general.

Part of the difficulty today with so many people apparently not eating well is a combination of things, including food faddiness in general and a food culture and heritage so completely denuded by that faddiness and by the supermarkets themselves.

The original report makes some interesting points – but this is bad journalism from something that once actually had a reputation as a decent newspaper.

And it’s odd too politically, since one might have expected the Telegraph to be supportive of farmers and their struggles against the corporate monopoly that supermarkets are close to holding, given their 80% share of the UK grocery market, and the bullying that that enables them to get away with.

In fact, it all simply serves to illustrate what the NHS report was talking about – careless writing.

And by god, the picture of liver at the top of the article looks as though it’s been overcooked into un-appetising dryness.

No comments:

Post a Comment