Monday, September 01, 2008
Monty Don, surely the most sympathetic and informative of TV presenters, emails me about The Diet. Following my article he tried it for a week, but:
'Sure enough I lost some weight but the more I thought about it the more it struck me that the whole basis of thinking behind it is is completely out of kilter with a sense of a community as a healthy body. It is focused completely on the narcissistic individual –which, admittedly, most of us are to a degree. There was also the fact that as one who spends between 4 and 10 hours a day working physically outside it was an extremely impractical way of providing enough fuel. Along with the weight one loses the sense of harvest, of communal nurturing of crops, of subsistence, of garnering food for the future, of working the soil as part of a broad notion of personal and communal health. It also completely avoids the issue of cost and availability. How do all the billions that depend upon rice or wheat for their existence live according to this principal? How do the genuine poor of the 1st world do it? How does it help reduce the amount of grain used to feed animals for western consumption? How does it square with the health of good bread, good pasta, good rice – good being a summation of the growing, preparing and consumption as communal celebrations of food? I would suggest that our domesticated animals should be eating little or no grains and humans rather more. As a result we should all eat less meat but relish it and pay it due accord when we do and much more unrefined grains, fruit and vegetables.'
These are good points, not just about The Diet but also about biology versus civilisation. If human settlement produced a change in diet that is now damaging - and I think it did - then how far do we go to sacrifice all the benefits of communality associated with that diet in favour of our individual well-being? Bread, after all, is not just food. Thanks, Monty.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 1:41 pm