Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

10 October 2013

The past 10 or 15 years have been an amazing time for people who appreciate good cuisine. But at the same time, I feel we have made it more difficult to enjoy food too.

Possibly more than elsewhere in the world, my home country of Finland seems to have been taken over by almost religious discussions about what kinds of food and drink are good for you and which should be avoided.

It now happens so much that I am not sure anymore about where to take my Finnish friends for dinner in London. During my two-year absence from my home country, many Finns have discovered food on what is apparently a whole new level. In their mission to avoid anything that does – or could possibly – cause any unhealthy effects for them and their mind-body balance, it seems that some of the people I know are forced to survive on nothing more then algae, tofu and coconut products.

Something that the Finnish media seem to love are the warnings and recommendations by all possible experts on what you should or should not eat or drink. I do love my coffee but during the last year I have learned that the habit is going to give me a peptic ulcer in the long run. At the same time though, my memory will remain sharp as caffeine is thought to play a part in preventing Alzheimer's. But rethinking this again, it might not even matter as coffee increases the risk of premature death in people under 55 years old. And obviously, if you drink coffee you should also remember to make sure it has been ethically produced... How am I supposed to do the right thing?

But this phenomenon is not new. In the 1990s, Finnish grocery stores found themselves with tonnes of liver casserole that nobody wanted after it was suggested that it may give you too much vitamin A. Obviously nobody remembers this story anymore and readymade liver casserole is still one of the dishes keeping the Finns going.

Making decisions on what you eat has never been this hard. I may be overdosing on warnings but I have decided to try, at the very least, not to care anymore. Why? Because I am worried that this latest type of health fascism will steal the pleasure from eating good, locally produced food – something many of us have only really learned to enjoy fairly recently.

Markus Hippi is a producer for Monocle 24.

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