Feeding the (Young) World

John Lennon once said something like ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’. My WordPress renewal subscription metaphorically hit the doormat earlier this month and reminded me I had a blog. Time to reassess what I did with it given that it’s hardly been compulsive to write it!

So now will be some additions and offshoots to the previous themes and content. As always focussing on what matter to me. Food – and drink – being an everyday joy. As is making sure that money gets spent in the right places. Along with a wish to leave the world a better place than I found it. And an opportunity to indulge in another occasional interest in food photography. Etc etc.

Mix all this thoroughly together and here are the beginnings of a series of writings on cooking. Practical, hands-on stuff.

One catalyst has been the current TV series ‘Eat Well For Less’. New viewers  start here. I’ve not watched too many of the programmes but the recurrent themes are that people spend humungous amounts of cash on really quite mediocre food in the name of ‘convenience’ and also lack confidence and basic knowledge on how to get the most from their food. It was also sad to see occasions when individual diets and preferences resulted in stress and a kind of ‘food apartheid’ of different meals prepared and consumed separately. As well as nourishing,  food is supposed to bring people together.

Before I’m accused of being holier than thou, I have made many of these mistakes too. And the result is two of my three girls now living away with a fairly superficial and disjointed knowledge of food and how to buy and prepare it in interesting ways – along the way becoming a confident, curious and competent cook. So, even though I doubt they’ll be tuning in, I thought I’d pitch in with some help. I hope they do though.. it’s nice to give something back. And passing on cooking skills is very much along the lines of the old saying of ‘give a man a fish and feed him for a day…’. Giving people life skills is perhaps the most satisfying thing of all.

This is going to build slowly, so bear with. The timing might be good. September is traditionally a time when young people leave home and learn to fend for themselves. So there will be a mix of cooking suggestions and how to find and serve tasty, but relatively  inexpensive  food. I think I might also occasionally veer off into drink too. Why not?

Lastly some caveats. I am not a dietician nor do I have any professional qualifications in cooking or baking. Neither do I have any particular dietary  needs or preferences. If you do, all my comments need to be taken with a pinch of salt – unless you are trying to avoid that too. All my experience has been gained from day in/day out cooking both for myself and others. I have worked in the food industry for many years and this gives me a certain perspective on what, where and how I buy.

I’ve also been incredibly lucky in my job to meet some amazing cooks, chefs and food technologists and eat at some great places. Some of this skill might have rubbed off. I won’t name names and I am not going to filch any recipes created by others – those shown will be entirely my own – although I’ll point you towards some good sources.

So, that’s the way it goes. Now on to some proper content.

“Take Good Care of Yourself”

Well, 2016 is with us and in addition to my usual list of resolutions there is a pressing one relating to furthering my career. As I scooted round all manner of recruitment sites I landed on Gary Chaplin’s site. Gary is an executive headhunter based in Cheshire and  his website is well worth a look if you are in the market  – or if you like gin. Seriously!

One of his blog posts  Too Fat To Get A Job struck a chord as it will with others who are combining general new year self-improvement objectives with a fresh professional challenge. It’s a thought-provoking read, with some useful stats and his own valuable views on how one might be perceived when being considered for a role.

He makes an effective point when comparing the general landscape of increased obesity with the body shape and innate perception of many leaders’ svelte and trim figures. How many CEO’s, how many heads of state, how many public figures are ‘stout’? And I am now squirming a little  uncomfortably in my seat. He’s right! Of course there is no law against being ‘well padded’ but first impressions matter and if the person hiring happens to conclude that a visible lack of personal pride and care is likely to carry over into a view of how much care and attention you will put into the job, then maybe you are heading for trouble.

Of course, not everyone aspires to be a  ‘C-level candidate’, so does that mean most of us can switch off from the issue and order another Latte and muffin, or habitually neck half a bottle of wine a night with dinner?

None of us are getting any younger. And it is likely our working lives will be longer than before. Things happen as we get older. Metabolisms change, muscle mass deteriorates, bones lose their density and maybe become more brittle. And statistically it is increasingly likely we could experience serious or chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems etc. Some are down to bad luck and genetics, some are down to poor lifestyle choices. In an age where manual labour has often been replaced with a sedentary desk-bound job, we’ve not always been quick enough to recognise that the body needs fuelling and maintaining differently. Medical progress is often regarded as a safety net or a get-out-of jail card for lifestyles that have refused to adapt to the very different way many of us now live. And that’s just the physical side. What about the various mental health issues of stress, depression and dementia?

We are living longer, marrying later, having children later, and expecting a long retirement. This shifts the focus of our prime years further down the line. But what physical state will we be in when we get there?  We need to weigh up quantity AND quality of life.

So, my message this week is to take a little time to look beyond the usual  new year’s resolution mantras, and think a little more about long term health planning, asking: how long do I want to live? How long do I want to work? What sort of shape do I want to be in when grandchildren come along? How much of a burden do I want to be on my husband/wife/ children etc? We mostly have sufficient wealth to control these choices for good or bad. And if we take control and adopt an active rather than passive  approach, then along the way we will enjoy all aspects of our life more and might also end up getting that dream job.

A Happy (and healthy) New Year