It’s 2019. We still don’t know what to have for breakfast

We’ve been lied to and lied to. Ever since we were told to ‘Dig for Victory’ back in 1941 governments have grown addicted to telling us how and what to eat in order to stay healthy. Often they were wrong. Sometimes, very wrong. Not that they were strategically malicious, you understand. Like all professional liars governments make stuff up, for often very good reasons…but once evidence emerges to deflate their well meaning hunches, instead of coming clean they double down or wriggle duplicitously so that the edges of truth become blurred and impossible to make out.

Fat is the obvious example. Scientists originally promoted low fat diets back in the fifties, along with the concept of controlling calories for cardiovascular health. Post war optimism ultimately embraced the low fat, high carb lifestyle. After all, we watched as the fat solidified after our morning fry up, and we certainly didn’t want that clogging up our arteries! So, in the sixties we switched to Cornflakes (along with a cup of sugar).

It turns out this was the worst advice given since the days of blood letting. Today, Cardiovascular Disease is the number one killer, responsible for a third of all premature deaths. A third ffs! But did we get an apology for the untold slaughter of a million innocent butter-dodgers?

New evidence contradicts everything the World Health Organisation still evangelises. Namely, saturated fats directly enable us to absorb essential minerals and vitamins, build cell membranes, and raise levels of good cholesterol…at the same time as disarming the bad. Bread and dripping anyone?

Just as the medical institutions enthusiastically leapt on the fat bandwagon, so they jumped on the cholesterol one too. Latest evidence suggests bad cholesterol may not be that wicked after all, despite Statins being one of the world’s most widely prescribed drugs ever. Bandwagons build tremendous momentum when they get going, and rather than change direction they simply get outpaced by a newer one.

A case in point is the anti-meat bandwagon, which is currently gathering speed at one hell of a rate. Only a few years ago, vegans and vegetarians were a rare and endangered species notable mainly for their nose-rings and knitted socks. Today by contrast, even the reddest-blooded meat enthusiast will boast of the joys of flexitarianism. Shamed by a vitriolic climate of health-freakery, carnivores must now be wary of offending their friends and colleagues. They nibble their pork pies furtively inside the wrapper and sensitively lower their voices when recounting tales of the weekend barbecue. 

But actual evidence proving red meat causes cancer, which we hear on an almost daily basis, is very dubious indeed (the worst offender is very well done, or over-roasted meat…much like the risk of burnt toast) The WHO’s website sprinkles its meat warnings with a generous handful of mights and maybes, but then the press get hold of it and distil a thousand words into another bite-sized, blood-curdling headline. I can’t help but think this is driven primarily by environmental concerns, and our own health, rather than the planet’s, is their way of scaring us into abstention. (These are the things that keep me up at night)

Before the virtue signallers among you grin too broadly above your enormous plate of under-cooked kale, it’s worth pointing out that every silver lining is wrapped in a miserable, grey cloud. In short, iron in vegetables is nowhere near as absorbable as the iron in red meat. Rates of anaemia among vegans is rising, along with other delightfully named conditions such as Leaky Gut and Fatty Liver Disease. And we haven’t got time to get into the whole side effects of phytoestrogens thing, but trust me, it’s pretty scary. And believe it or not, just like everything else, you can have too many vegetables in your diet. A big plateful of fibre takes so much digesting that it can cause a deficiency in essential proteins and fats. Suck on that, smug potato.

If you don’t believe me, read this personal story of an ex-vegan:

https://www.cleaneatingkitchen.com/vegan-diet-dangers-health/

Things are changing so fast. We now know that many of the vegetable oils we glugged so enthusiastically a few years ago are much worse for us than lard, and  probably increase the risk of heart disease. So, it looks like we’ll learn to love lard like it’s 1939 again.

Fruit is another minefield of contradictions. Not long ago we were told to eat as much fruit as humanly possible, presumably because it was unlikely anyone could overdose on oranges. Blueberries, we were told, are a superfood that can prevent the cancer we’re all growing as a result of our meat addiction. Armed with this very rare, good news we gleefully poured bucketfuls of berries into the blender in the hope of living to 150. Within a few short weeks however, an alternative truth emerged: the high sugar content in fruit means we may as well drink Coca Cola.

It gets worse. After a thirty thousand year love affair, our most worshipped and romanticised food icon of all time, fresh bread is suddenly the worse thing we eat on a daily basis. News just in is that it’s loaded with salt, sugar, contains very few nutrients if any, and is no better for us than a box of Mr Kiplings.

The problem with advice from colossal institutions like the WHO or the NHS, is that it will never, ever, be up to date. Like ocean going tankers, embarked on a specific course, it is understandably impossible for big organisations to change direction overnight. So much time and money has been invested, millions, if not billions of people in hundreds of countries have been nudged or coaxed to follow certain guidelines, a thousand initiatives have been launched and hundreds of billion dollar deals have been made with Big Pharma. So here we are in 2019, surrounded by advanced technology, armies of super-scientists, legions of researchers and Yottabytes of detailed data, and yet we…actually…don’t…know…what…the…bloody…hell…to…have…for…breakfast. Full English, buttered toast, yoghurt, or a blueberry smoothie? You tell me.

There is, however, hope on the horizon in the shape of our little slab of black glass, yet again. If we wish, our smart-phone will shortly have access to our personal genome: the entire map of our unique DNA and all the biological propensities and fragilities our loving forefathers bestowed upon us. An army of apps will surely follow to advise and warn and encourage us to do what’s best for specifically for us, not generalised, out of date, one-size-fits-all mandates designed for entire populations.

Big data is really powerful when it gets small and personal. Now, pass the butter.

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  Howard Saunders   Apr 17, 2019   Food, Future, pizza, smartphone, technology, Uncategorized   0 Comment   Read More

DEAR DIARY 2030

It’s a chilly Sunday night in March, 2030. I’m booking flights for a short trip to Istanbul next week. Juniper has already offered me three options, so a mumbled ‘ok’ is enough for me to receive the boarding pass together with the train times. That was easy. I ask for a short list of must-sees while I’m out there, though I know I’ll only manage to tick off a couple. Like I say, it’s a short trip.

Juniper has been incredibly helpful lately. Last week she organised a birthday party for my brother; made all the bookings, dealt with all the invites, ordered the food and even kept the design of the cake secret from me! Oh, she’s good. Hugely popular at the moment too. Especially since the whole Amazon debacle. I still can’t believe Alexa so flagrantly made all that stuff up. At least Juniper works directly for me, rather than Bezos, and she’s certainly reduced the avalanche of crap I have to deal with. 

I even get to choose what I watch on TV now, instead of all that pushy, interactive stuff that was ‘specially created for me’. To be honest, I’m totally sick of every damn thing I watch being a thinly veiled advertisement. It’s one hell of a relief to be left alone to surf whatever junk I want. I’m currently obsessed with a 1990s Chinese drama called Sinful Debt. Juniper translates it in all the correct voices and it’s bloody hilarious. Anyway, since Alibaba swallowed Amazon it was bound to end in tears for poor Alexa.

If you’re wondering why I’m taking the train to the airport, it’s because the AVs (autonomous vehicles) have become pretty disgusting frankly. I had to call one the other night and its last ‘client’ had left liquid evidence of their Friday drinking session on the passenger seat. Oh how I love London. I alerted the Report Bot, of course, but TFL will take days to clean it up, as usual. Private vehicles have only been banned in the city a couple of years but already the cost of moving around London has sky-rocketed. Bring back the black cabs, I say!

I try to post daily on Glow just for my business, but it has rather lost its meaning since the new regulations came in. After the Twitter ban, Glow promised us a more polite and ethical social platform but effectively it’s government controlled now, and the GOAs (Global Offence Algorithms) have left it feeling strangely banal and pointless. It’s like reading the back of a Cornflakes pack, if you remember those?

I’m meeting an old friend at a new NDZ bar (No Drone Zone) in Covent Garden tomorrow night. NDZs are specially licensed bars and restaurants where every member has been fully cleared by the Hate Police. It simply means we can drink and talk openly without the COPters hovering outside, listening to our every word. Those licenses aren’t easy to come by, and judging by the price of the drinks, they’re expensive too! Get this: I had to endure an hour long, online interview where they actually played me recordings of things I’d said thirty years ago! ‘Hate Archeology’ they call it. God knows how my Dad has survived this long.

Funnily enough, I logged into one of my local Clapham COPters while waiting for a drone delivery yesterday. I could clearly see what it was watching, but I’d love to know what it’s thinking! The current craze of drone muggings (gangs of illegal drones that ambush delivery drones) has made one hour deliveries pretty unreliable recently. Loads of the COPters have been taken out too, in this part of South London alone. A COPter kill is seen as a badge of honour. The Police caught a Drone Gang a few weeks ago, but they can do very little as most of them are barely teenagers. It really is Drone Wars in the skies above  town these days.

Anyway, next weekend I’m taking a break in the country, thank god. There are still plenty of NDZ towns out there if you look for them. I might even switch off my iDoctor and have a traditional, high fat, cream tea for a change. Oh yes, I’m still a rebel at heart, you know.

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  Howard Saunders   Mar 26, 2019   Uncategorized   0 Comment   Read More

MANKIND PEAKED AT ME!

Do you worry about your children? Do you fret they won’t be able to cope with the modern world? Do you despair of their inability to concentrate and cringe at their poor social skills? Do you grimace as they fumble with their shoelaces or attempt to carry a hot drink from one room to another? Even if you haven’t yet had any imbecilic offspring, do you lie awake at night brooding over how well prepared the younger generation is for the real world, the world of tough business negotiations, the world of complex mortgages and life insurance? 

Well my friend, you are not alone. In fact, I guarantee that your great, great, great grandmother was equally concerned over your great, great, grandmother’s mental faculties, and whether she’d amount to anything very much at all. Indeed, there has never been a generation that didn’t believe its successor would be lazier, less respectful, shallower and generally less likely to cope with the challenges of contemporary life. Put another way, no one ever, dead or alive, believed they were handing the future to safer, wiser hands than their own. Every one of us is genuinely convinced the world would be better off if only we could stick around to oversee things properly.

There’s an ever-lengthening list of things we cannot discuss openly these days, isn’t there? Perhaps this is why so many polite conversations resort to the narcissistic, screen-obsessed young generation. What we are really saying, of course, is that WE are far more sophisticated, considerably more practical, eminently more articulate, extremely conscientious and clearly more enlightened than any other generation, past or present. In other words: mankind peaked at me!

Yes, humankind dragged itself from the swamp, to discover fire, invent the wheel, agriculture, transport, fight a few wars, overcome famine and disease to build cities, aircraft, computers and smartphones…but now, sadly, it’s downhill from here. Most likely, our great, great grandchildren will dig out our Facebook archive to gaze in awe at the pinnacle of humanity right there, pictured somewhere tropical with cheesy grins. “Progress stopped with Great, Great, Grand Mammy and Pops” they’ll sigh.

Truth is of course, your idiot children will help usher in an incredibly exciting new world. It’s only us myopic Boomers and miserable Millennials who think progress stopped at the iPhone. And as for attention spans, just look at the hours they put in playing computer games or watching make-over videos in their bedrooms. Compare that to the stupidly staccato ‘sorry, gotta go to the news’ ‘gotta leave it there’ hurried BBC interviews we wake to every morning. No, there’s nothing wrong with their attention spans. They’re just not interested in your boring world, that’s all.

Mankind’s graph of progress is actually very clear. Despite the doom-mongers and naysayers, the best time to be breathing air is, believe it or not, today. Whether your barometer of progress is humanity’s access to knowledge, travel, freedom, opportunity, longevity, security or technological innovation, the overwhelming majority of us are living in the safest, most liberated and creative time in human history. Ask your great, great grandmother how she thinks your life chances are looking. She’d probably say they were pretty bloody awesome. Or words to that effect. 

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  Howard Saunders   Feb 04, 2019   Future, me, me age, smartphone, technology, Uncategorized   1 Comment   Read More