James Whelan Butchers: Fun Food not Junk Food

I’ve just finished reading about a new study coming out of America that has just shown how lethargy, and its close cousin obesity, can come from consistently eating processed foods and not just processed foods in huge amounts.

Now we probably didn’t need another study to prove that junk food will make us lethargic and fat, but the research went on to show that the long term affects of eating junk food could lead to cognitive impairments. This information might make us think twice when we are packing those little school lunchboxes.

All of this leads back to the same thing time and time again. Real food is better for us. It is also about where you are in the world and how your body will always respond well to food local to your region. It’s great that we can access a myriad of exotic ingredients in the local corner shop these days, but our main diet should be made up of food grown and sourced as close to home as possible. It’s not what we do occasionally that causes the problems, it’s what we do everyday.

In my family we apply one simple rule, if you’re going to put it into your mouth ask yourself is it really food? Just because you bought it in a food shop and it was made to be ingested doesn’t make something food. As one person put it, many of today’s new products are just ‘industrial novelties’. Many of the new products have been cooked up in a laboratory, processed and doused with chemical additives to make them taste like foods we recognise. Hence the words ‘strawberry flavour’, ‘bacon flavour’, ‘cheese flavour’ and so on. If you see a real food name and the word ‘flavour’ close behind it, you can be pretty sure it is a chemical concoction. James Whelan Butchers homemade burgers

I’m an advocate for the pleasures of food. While we need it for fuel and nourishment, I think we should enjoy every morsel. I’m also keen not to spoil the fun for my kids. I don’t want them eating junk food but I also want them to be normal and not have to say things like, “I’m not allowed eat fast food/junk food.”. Unless we are talking medical allergy, a child shouldn’t have to say they are ‘not allowed’, they should be able to say ‘I prefer’ or ‘I don’t like’ or ‘I choose not to’. .

A friend of mine has an 8 year old and a 5 year old. Both are as familiar with the golden arches as any other modern children. During the Easter holidays they did an experiment. Effectively she made really good homemade burgers, with all the trimmings. Instead of processed cheese slices she used some really good local cheese and grated it on the top. There were also several additions in chopped fried onions, local lettuce and a little tomato ketchup. All of this was served on a burger bun from the supermarket so it wasn’t 100% natural but it was a close as possible. Real potatoes were peeled and chopped into chunky chips. While that was all cooking Dad was dispatched to the local international fast food outlet where he picked up some ordinary burgers, a cheese burger and some fries. It was a well executed and slightly involved event in that household but one that proved to be very well worth it.

First of all the homemade burgers just looked so much better (God bless Facebook). Even in their shop bought buns they stood several inches higher on the plate than the rather sad and limp patties in their flat and deflated burger bun jackets beside them. The comparison between the chips and the fries was amazing – the colour alone would make you plump for the homemade chip every time.

There was no contest. The homemade burger and chips won hands down; much better on taste, on looks and particularly on texture as voted for by the kids. There was a final part to this experiment and that was leaving the food overnight to see how it faired. This was the area where real food parts company with processed. The next morning the real chips, while cold, were certainly edible. The real meat burger still retained its flavour and could have been reheated and eaten. The bought food was a sorry sight indeed. The French Fries were practically inedible and the burger from the previous evening wasn’t even good enough to give to the dog let alone reheat. In the cold light of day, literally, it was quite obvious what you would ‘choose’ to eat. Interestingly since then these two children haven’t asked to visit their local fast food outlet, however they have both lamented over the missing toy element with the home cooked version. And suddenly there it was, laid bare for all to see, there wouldn’t be a need for the gimmicks and toys if the food was simply outstanding!

Make homemade burgers, create real hot dogs with local sausages, stop buying strawberry ‘flavour’ anything and buy real strawberries instead. Let’s teach our children how to eat well but their health and their enjoyment. If you are looking for child friendly recipes drop into James Whelan Butchers today or check us out online at www.jameswhelanbutchers.com

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Handweavers Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue, Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt, Rathmines and Swords in Dublin. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

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