Thursday, October 09, 2003

Fussy kids

According to researchers at University College London, fussy eating by children is almost invariably about the same things: green vegetables, meat and fruit. The researchers argue that this could be 'hard-wired' as these kinds of foods would be most likely to contain toxins. Children tend to avoid them as a result. They also tend to avoid new foods. This neophobia could also be protective.

The message seems to be that green vegetables and fruit are not the panacea for all evil, but are both nutritious and potentially toxic. In which case, presumably children are capable of growing up without eating huge quantities of them. So, maybe we could just chill out about what our children eat a bit more.

BBC NEWS | Health | Kids 'programmed to dislike food'

Will the oil run out before we fry?

Swedish researchers have suggested that oil and gas will run out long before there is enough CO2 in the atmosphere to fulfill the worst fears of climate change activists. They say oil reserves will peak around 2010 and gas soon after.

While a shift to cleaner technology with long-term viability is a must, predictions of resource depletion have a habit of not coming true. As scarcity increases, previously unviable stocks become economically useful. As for coping with high prices, this would be a piece of cake for Europeans as tax makes up as much as 75 percent of the retail cost of petrol in many EU countries.

As for man-made climate change, I think the jury is very much still out. And surely it would be better to deal with problems as they arise in the context of the full range of practical problems society faces, rather than devoting a disproportionate amount of cost to just one area, CO2 emissions?

New Scientist

Baby anxiety

A poll for Prima Baby magazine says that 57 percent of women are 'obsessed' with their child's health. The editor suggests this borders on over-protectiveness. Given these comments, you could be forgiven for thinking that Prima Baby won't be devoting page after page to ill-considered health panics, then.

And yet on the front page of their website, we find an article entitled Making the Invisible Killer Visible. I wonder if there is any connection between the blanket coverage of health issues in the media and the rise of these obsessive tendencies?

BBC NEWS | Health | Mothers obsessed on child health

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

GM and thalidomide

A report by an anti-GM group of farmers in the UK suggests that even if the government approves GM crops, farmers may have difficulty obtaining liability insurance for them. Apparently, the big agricultural insurers are terrified that if cases of allergies arise from the consumption of crops, the claims could be substantial. One insurer apparently compared it to thalidomide.

Meanwhile, in the USA, there is plenty of GM food being eaten and nobody seems to be having a problem with it.

Telegraph | News | No insurance cover for GM crops that 'could be like thalidomide'

A prescription of junk food

BBC News carries the story of 18-year-old Ashley Clarke, who suffers from vasovagal syncope syndrome, a condition of low blood pressure which causes regular fainting. He has been told to eat more junk food to boost his salt intake and increase his blood pressure. Of course, he could just drink salt water, but that wouldn't have been much of a story...

BBC NEWS | Health | Teen told to eat more junk food

Monday, October 06, 2003

'School dinners are rubbish' shocker

The Soil Association say that school dinners are getting worse, containing more and more processed foods. They say an average of 35p is spent per school dinner compared to 65p for prison food. Leaving aside the fact that prison food is for adults, since when was it news that school dinners weren't very good. Fond memories of apple crumble or fish and chips disguise the fact that at best, school dinners used to be tasty stodge. At worst, they were unpalatable.

What the Soil Association want is a nirvana where children eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables produced by local, organic farms. While giving people the best possible food at all times is a good thing (and there's nothing wrong with a little paternalism in school food organisation), there is nothing inherently better about organic or local food. Organic food is no better nutritionally than any other kind of food, as the Food Standards Agency has pointed out. And in any other context, 'local' is a synonym for 'crap'. For example: 'local newspaper'; 'local poet'; support your 'local' team...

BBC NEWS | Education | School lunches 'cheap muck'