156. Yorkshire Food Revolution

Reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity
There is a wide variety of high quality foods produced in Yorkshire, especially meat and meat products as well as butter, cheese, cream and yoghurts which are based on milk from cattle and sheep. Unfortunately many of these are regarded as “unhealthy” because they usually contain saturated fat (SFA). According to the official dietary recommendations SFA is a risk factor for heart disease and so we are advised to limit the amount we eat. The Government has a Responsibility Deal with the food manufacturers and retailers which puts pressure on the industry to reduce the SFA in the food chain. This is encouraging food companies to remove SF from existing products in order to devise “low fat” versions.
During the past few years the rationale used to justify the advice to reduce SFA has come under intensive scrutiny and it is now abundantly clear that it is fundamentally flawed. The reality is that SFA does not represent a threat to health: in fact, certain individual saturated fats are actually important nutrients in their own right! By contrast, it is the sugars and refined carbohydrates which should be the cause for concern. During the past 15 years the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) has doubled. Those with T2D have an increased risk of heart disease. Essentially T2D is excess sugar (glucose) in the blood. This is caused by consuming too much sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes, rice, bread and pasta which contain starch. These are broken down during digestion to produce glucose which is absorbed into the blood and if there is an overload the result is T2D. Furthermore, soft drinks including fruit juices invariably contain a high content of sugar. In addition, sugar is present in many processed foods. Despite the protests from the vested interests, there is little doubt that current poor standard of public health as shown by the figures for T2D and obesity is primarily because of the high content of sugar and carbohydrates in the typical diet.
It is somewhat ironic that many shoppers choose the “low fat” variants believing them to be healthy. Regrettably this is not the case. By removing the fat a valuable source of nutrients is lost. As the fat is often replaced by sugar the consumer suffers a double whammy!
Although the Government is still pushing a discredited policy, a growing number of consumers recognise that the way forward is to reduce the carbohydrates and increase the amount of fat in the diet. More and more people are finding out for themselves that this actually works and makes them feel better. There is convincing evidence that this type of diet improves health for most people. With respect to weight loss, the effect is noticeable within a matter of weeks. There are literally hundreds of personal case histories on the internet from individuals who have overcome T2D. Many of them have been able to stop using drugs completely
All of this is great news for many Yorkshire food producers. What it means is that foods which have been branded as “unhealthy” should now be regarded as “healthy”. However the most significant development is that even though the Government persists with policies which are doing more harm than good, the message is being picked up by more and more ordinary consumers. This represents a huge opportunity for all those producers of specialised foods here in Yorkshire.
There is no doubt that the time is ripe and things could really explode any time. This has already happened in South Africa. Professor Tim Noakes of the University of Cape Town and colleagues have written a book on this precise issue entitled “The Real Meal Revolution” which has been a phenomenal success. Initially 3,000 copies were printed but it has already sold over 120,000 and has been top of the best seller list for over 20 weeks. Restaurants have devised menus which are in line with the new thinking and are trading extremely well.
Here in Skipton, Malcolm Weaving of The Rendezvous and the Craven Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses have co-operated to organise an event which focused on these exciting concepts. It was held at The Rendezvous on Friday 30th January 2015. The format consisted of:
• A tasting menu of 7 different courses all designed and prepared from ingredients sourced in Yorkshire wherever possible and selected to fit in with the latest thinking on Healthy Eating
• After each course Chris Wildman of the Town End Farm shop described the provenance of the ingredients, the procedures applied to ensure that quality standards are maintained and how the foods can be sourced
• Finally Verner Wheelock, Chairman of Verner Wheelock Associates, specialists in nutrition and food safety training and consultancy to the food industry, discussed the basic principles which underpin these new ideas and how they can be put into practice.
This event was attended by almost 70 people who hopefully now appreciate how it is possible to improve the nutritional quality of the diet by consuming foods that are not only tasty and good to eat but are also produced to the highest ethical standards in the glorious Yorkshire country

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