Friday, 18 February 2011

The Hairy Bikers: are they promoting heart and soul?

I have a confession to make; I really like the Hairy Bikers and their ‘Mums know best’ programme on the BBC.
In case you have not seen this, people are invited to share recipes that are special to them and their families and this is all brought together at a pubic event where people bring dishes to share and swop recipes with each other. The emphasis is on good home cooked food. There are no lectures on fat content or the rights or wrongs of eating meat. It is all about what food means to us and how it makes us feel.
Sure its fun and light-hearted entertainment but what I like about it is the idea that they are promoting. That food has a psychological importance that is very personal and has a strong association with our sense of place. Forget your healthy eating mantras and ethical obligations; what we like to eat is food that connects us with the place we call home and our family traditions.
The other aspect I find delightful about this programme is the fun people have connecting over food. They may be from very different backgrounds and cultures but there is a huge amount of respect and appreciation for each others food selections. No one is being judged or compared it is just a wonderful and self indulgent celebration of food and what it means to us.
Now contrast that with a number of green events I have attended where food is supplied or ‘food to share’ is the order of the day (and yes that does include some Transition events). The default position is often vegan and I have witnessed grown adults apologising for bringing something that may (or may not) transgress some unspoken ethics of communal eating.
Please don’t get the idea I’m having a go at vegans or vegetarians (some of my best friends are…), but since when did they represent the majority choice. I don’t ban vegetarian meals in my home because I choose to sometimes eat meat and fish, so why this lowest common denominator position. These events are meant to be inclusive and open to all for crying out loud. There is a word for people who impose their beliefs and values on others and it begins with ‘F’.
So for all you people out there organising events, please take a leaf out of the Hairy Bikers cookbook and make it open to all. Watch the programme, lots of people enjoying themselves speaks for itself. Food is fun and it brings people together and that is where the interesting conversations occur.
victus diligo of orbis terrarum iunctum(food lovers of the world unite)


  1. I think the Hairy Bikers Recipe Swap is a really good example of what I was touching on below - the event taps into everyday experience and is good fun. You don't need to explain that it is about sharing skills, honouring the elders or encouraging resilience... It's all there!

  2. Hey let's agree to differ!
    Your local friendly facist vegan x

  3. I can forgive a fellow cat lover anything!