Wednesday, 9 July 2008


Our Hospital’s intranet site is not, as I’m sure you can imagine, the most exciting read known to mankind. A few stats, Departmental Pages (the Purchasing one is OK as for reasons that allude me they let me author that one) messages from on high when the CEO exhorts us to redouble our efforts and details on the’ diversity’ of our workforce.

It’s probably pretty similar to the internet and intranet sites of many large organisations.

And am ashamed to say I don’t do much more than skim read occasionally.

Today though was different though as we had the pleasure of reading about another cracking initiative, but what made it special was that it was announced by the Lord of Darkness himself.

The Prime Minister announced that a new ‘kite mark’ is going to be developed for public sector canteens that provide nutritious food and encourage healthier eating,

The press release explained

‘As part of a Food Matters - Towards a strategy for the 21st Century, the Government wants to support the public sector to lead the way in healthy eating by providing healthier food in their canteens. A ‘Healthier Food Mark’ will signal those public sector canteens that provide healthy, nutritious food to its staff and those in its care’.

The new mark, which is to be piloted in the NHS, HM Prison Service and central government staff canteens will be awarded to catering companies who serve the public sector if they meet particular criteria. The statement went on to say

‘Alongside this, the Government is committed to supporting people to make healthier choices about food, including in their workplace. Almost a third of all meals served by caterers in the UK are served in public sector institutions. Around one million meals are served to NHS patients and staff each day alone’.

In the ‘editors notes’ at the end of the statement it cryptically explained that ‘All stakeholders are taking action forward’ which is odd as I can’t imagine that steak will be on either an existing or revised menu.

It then helpfully pointed out that 'this is not a DH (Department of Health) imposed diktat'. It would be interesting to see which press briefings have ended with an explanatory note stating that the intended measure was a diktat and woe betide the peon who did not adopt the measure with joy in their soulless hearts.

Of course as food ‘quality’ forms part of the Hospital assessment scores and that undoubtedly having a ‘tofu and lettuce’ mark will increase ones score with all of the financial benefits that follow it might not be a diktat but one can easily see it as a form of coercion.

I doubt that anyone would deny that eating ‘healthy’ food is important. Eating food you actually enjoy during you allotted span is also a good idea but nevertheless it would be difficult to refute that having a good diet will prolong life and good health.

However I don't really want my employers to encourage me to eat healthily. It's not their appointed task, I want them to pay me for the work that I occasionally do in between meetings which is mine

I certainly don’t need to be corralled into ‘better behaviours’ by the munificent hand of the state. Whilst the ends seem laudable what these people don’t understand is that not everything can be fixed by schemes and initiatives formulated centrally. Schemes that inevitably divert resources from more needy areas of concern.

Sometimes it might be a good idea to let people take responsibility for their own actions. It seems to be a rather depressing view of humanity when it is felt that everyone needs to be encouraged to do this and hectored to do the other for their own good. Given the information with which to make an informed decision it is quite possible that the population might just about be able sort this stuff out for themselves.

The other worrying though is that with Gordon’s sudden interest in food waste you can also imagine serried ranks of nurses being herded back to the canteen day after day until the now grey looking portions of Tofu burgers on couscous salad are finally consumed.

The common view is that we public sector wage slaves are the last remnant of the carefully constructed Labour client state to remain truly loyal at the ballot box. Perhaps that’s why they want to keep us alive for as long as possible.

Me though, I take my own sandwiches into work. Huge slabs of smoked pig and wedges of mature cheddar cheese wedged between fresh crusty bread, slightly salted butter and lashings of mustard or pickles. I never thought that a sandwich could almost be viewed as a small act of defiance.

But I get stuffed and so can they!


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Your sandwiches sound lovely, Grendel and I agree with the other points you make here. Perhaps if government did away with these eternal targets [and the quangos who get paid huge amounts to police them] we would all actually manage very well.

"Grendel" said...

I think the government has lost sight of what 'healthy eating' really is.

It is eating regular meals of tasty food prepared in your own home from ingredients you like to eat - rather than purchased from a canteen in portion/calorie/flavour controlled sachets like a ration issue.

Ham sammies sound great to me, especially with some nice home grown tomatoes on bread made by my wife with butter made from the cream from a cow I know personally.

Ok - I know the cow by reputation, but to be honest I'd rather have 'good food' as opposed to someone else's idea of 'healthy food'.

I'm sure someone will be around shortly to tell us that tofu causes cancer anyway.

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Sometimes it might be a good idea to let people take responsibility for their own actions.

Does seem to be so, Grendel.

TBRRob said...

They'll get your sandwiches eventually.

CherryPie said...

Our sandwiches at work all contain unhealthy goo, usually in the form of mayonnaise.

I am with you, I take my own in, much nicer.

Anonymous said...

Did you know Christopher Glamorganshire? What's the gossip?

"Grendel" said...

I really must make an "Oz Grendel" thing to post under to prevent confusion. . . That was my post above, not grendel grendel's post.

If I ever post in disagreement it'll look so self-contradictory!

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