As an amateur chef, I like to watch some of the cooking shows, which are so prevalent on television these days. Putting the right fuels in the body, is so important for good health, yet it is sometimes the perceived difficult to do this. It is always good to see chefs who use real food and teach us that cooking is simple, fun and that using good produce is not expensive. Of course the end result is a meal that we would all like to eat.
Some celebrity chefs have branched out and taken up broader issues related to food and its role in our lives. Jamie Oliver is probably the chef who has been at the forefront of this with his Ministry of Food and Food Revolution. He has ventured into areas where hardly anyone knows how to cook and taught them simple healthy recipes. He has also tackled school canteens in the UK and more recently the USA.
This is all good TV and sells books-fair enough. If people neither watch his shows or buy his books the message does not spread. A bit of publicity either favorable or the “get out of our town” variety also helps this process.
Now another chef has taken up the issue of hospital food which, by and large, does not provide either good nutrition or even taste to people who are sick and in need of good nourishment to aid their recovery. Many elderly people are malnourished as it is, due to not eating enough fruits and vegetables and often relying on packaged foods. The situation in aged care facilities is generally little better. When in hospital, it is an opportunity to provide them with some good nutrition. This opportunity is almost always wasted.
Heston Blumenthal whose Fat Duck restaurant was named third best in the world will team up with The University of Reading and the Royal Berkshire Hospital to find ways of making meals more flavorsome and nutritious. Whilst there is no need for Michelin star foods or fusion dishes on hospital menus, there is much that can be done to improve the quality of hospital meals. When a meal is appetizing and flavorsome, we are more likely to eat it. Of course, when we do the meal needs to provide our body with the nourishment and fuels we hope.
Of course providing a large number of meals simultaneously is not logistically simple and there will be a range of issues to address. However once there is a will, a way will be found. The first aim of the collaboration is simply to improve the flavor of simple meals like Shepherds pie.
My late mother spent some weeks in hospital after a hip fracture and the food she was served was awful. You cannot repair a house without the right materials, so how we expect the body to repair when it is not provided with the right nutrition is beyond me.
The body needs the right fuels at any time but arguably more so when ill. This move in the UK will hopefully generate plenty of publicity and start people down a similar path in other parts of the world too.