Wednesday, September 20, 2006


A headmaster said yesterday that there could be "no compromise" with the rebel mothers who have been making daily deliveries of junk food to his pupils. Rawmarsh School, in South Yorkshire, has become a reluctant focal point for the national debate on healthy eating since it emerged that two mothers were passing chips, burgers and fizzy drinks to children through the school railings.

For the past two weeks, Julie Critchlow and Sam Walker have been taking orders for up to 60 meals in defiance of the school's decision to ban pupils from leaving the premises during the lunch break. A temporary truce was called yesterday after the mothers visited the school, near Rotherham, spoke briefly to senior staff and agreed to return for a meeting to discuss their concerns later in the week. On each side, the battle lines are firmly drawn. Mrs Critchlow and Mrs Walker have cast themselves as standard-bearers for freedom of choice in an age of food fascism. Their bˆte noire is Jamie Oliver, whose high-profile television campaign to improve the quality of food served in school canteens has resulted, they claim, in their children being forced to eat "disgusting, over-priced, low-fat rubbish".

John Lambert, the school's headmaster, yesterday issued a strong defence of its healthy-eating policy and insisted that there would be no going back on a strategy designed "to improve the wellbeing of our young people". The controversy has aroused strong emotions in the community. Petitions have been circulating and Neil Beaumont, the owner of Chubby's, a local sandwich shop that has been supplying the rebel mums, disclosed yesterday that one of his staff had been verbally abused. Mr Beaumont, 34, charges 1.10 pounds for a bacon sandwich and has no regrets about his decision to take orders from Mrs Critchlow and Mrs Walker. "If they don't want their children to eat school dinners, that's up to them," he said, before claiming that one supermarket had lost up to œ1,000 a week since the school barred pupils from eating outside.

Mr Beaumont said he could accept that some local residents were unimpressed by the mothers' decision to stand each day in the grounds of the cemetery which adjoins the school to take and deliver orders for pupils. But he added that this did not justify the actions of one woman who pulled her car alongside a female member of his staff before accusing her of "taking blood money" and "demanding to know how she could sleep at night". He said: "It's all got out of hand. There's people dying on the front line in Iraq, yet people are going crazy because of two ladies passing sandwiches through the school railings."

Mr Lambert, whose 1,100-strong school has specialist status as a sports college, chose his words carefully yesterday when he was asked for his views on the mothers' determination to continue their junk food service. "I think the parents have stated a case, although I would have preferred it if they had stated it in a different way. There is no room for compromise here. The stance they have taken is not one the school can accept," he said. "We know from evidence nationally that eating proper food at lunchtime makes a difference to learning and success. It is my belief that, whatever their intentions, they are potentially undermining the success of their own children and also undermining the success of other parents' children."

At 12.50pm yesterday, the school canteen, its carpet and walls decorated in pastel shades of green and lilac, was packed with hungry 11-year-olds who seemed to have no problem with the fare on offer. For 1.70 pounds, children were able to choose from a range of "meal deal" items, including ratatouille pancakes, jacket potatoes, pizza slices with salad and wholemeal sandwiches. Enticing posters promoted different food sections. There was "classic cuisine", "chef's choice" and "4NRG". Drinks ranged from fruit juice and milk to bottled water and among the puddings were fresh fruit salad, melon and yoghurt. Health-obsessed to the point of puritanism it was not. One option was a mixed grill - bacon, sausage, burger, poached egg and baked beans - which would not have looked out of place on the menu at Chubby's.

Carl Mason, 11, was sitting with three friends at one of the tables. The quartet said that they ate in the canteen every day - packed lunches are the official alternative - and declared the food was "very nice". "It keeps you healthy and helps your brain," explained one of the boys, before Carl gave his verdict on the mothers' school railings deliveries. "I think it's silly. The lunches here are perfectly fine. If they don't like them, the pupils can always just bring in a sandwich. They're just making a big fuss."


Even a taste for coffee is genetic: "A taste for espresso in the morning may be genetic, according to research that has identified the first known receptor cells for caffeine. Scientists have discovered that a single protein determines whether fruit flies eat sugar laced with caffeine or avoid its bitter taste. It is not yet known whether the gene that controls production of the protein, Gr66a, has a similar effect in humans, but the discovery of a caffeine receptor does suggest that a taste for coffee is likely to be affected by genes. Despite their fondness for human foods, Drosophila fruit flies normally avoid caffeine because of its bitter taste. When the scientists removed the Gr66a gene from the flies, the flies overcame their dislike of caffeine. Without the Gr66a protein, the flies seem to have been unable to taste caffeine. Craig Montell, who led the research at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, said: "The bottom line is that our mutant flies willingly drink caffeine-laced liquids and foods because they can't taste its bitterness - their taste receptor cells don't detect it." The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Current Biology, ran tests on the flies' brains to prove that the change originated in the flies' taste bristles, the equivalent of human taste buds..."

Saved by cabbage: "New Zealand researchers have discovered that some compounds from vegetables in the cabbage family can help kill cancer cells that are resistant to other treatments. The research showed naturally occurring chemical compounds known as isothiocyanates, found in vegetables such as brussels sprouts, broccoli and watercress, cause cell-suicide in cancer cells. The Otago University researchers' findings were published in the American journal Cancer Research.

Crusading CDC thinks nearly everybody is overweight: "Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest percentages of obese residents, while Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii and Vermont have the lowest, the government reported on Thursday. The survey of 300,000 adults by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that overall, 60.5 percent of Americans were overweight, 23.9 percent were obese, and 3 percent were extremely obese. Obesity was as common in men as in women - 24 percent in both. Among ethnic groups, non-Hispanic blacks had the highest rates, with just under 34 percent of those surveyed considered obese, according to the survey known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System" [For background on CDC dishonesty, see here]


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.


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