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Wake up to woke food trend

It’s hard to keep up, isn’t it.

First, there was maths. Then there was new maths. Now I think there may even be bright and shiny newer maths.

It seems the old food pyramid has also dated. To many of us, it was a very good guide to what we should eat more or less of.

On the broad base of the pyramid were vegetables, salads and fruits. Eat lots [5 to 7 servings] of these.

Next up the pyramid were wholemeal cereals and breads, pasta, potatoes, and rice [3 to 5 servings]; then, a further step up, milk, yoghurt, and cheese [3 servings].

As we climb the dizzying heights of the pyramid, things get a little dodgier. Don’t, whatever you do, look down.

We are now entering the dodgy zone of things to avoid or at least go easy on. As you might expect, this zone consists mainly of items that taste great – chocolate, chewy toffees, gateau, beer – but are high in fats, sugar or salt.

But it seems the apex of the food triangle has recently been updated by David Seymour as part of the school lunches programme; it now includes the likes of couscous, sushi, hummus, and quinoa. [Please note that these foods are not necessarily bad for you; they are there because Mr Seymour thinks they are woke and it seems we should avoid woke foods.]

So what makes food woke? Well, basically it is if Mr Seymour thinks it is. But I would say it means anything that he might see as a bit fancy or trendy. Or, dare I say, foreign.

An example should help. To me, an avocado shouldn’t rate as woke. But smashed avocado on char-grilled sourdough bread is definitely woke – even woker if the bread is painted with extra virgin olive oil before grilling.

Cheese probably has a foot in both camps. Mild and tasty are certainly not woke but Stilton, Emmental and Red Leicester almost certainly are. Halloumi is definitely woke – especially when it’s grilled and served nestling on a bed of micro-greens, lightly drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and splashed with a few drops of balsamic vinegar.

Anything described as a wrap is definitely woke.

Are you getting the idea?

Do you really care, anyway?

Let’s take time to look at three other countries which provide free school lunches: Finland, Sweden and South Korea. Let’s now zoom in on South Korea’s offerings and rate them on the Seymour standard: noodles, stir-fried meat, suyuk [simmered pork], tteokbokki [rice cakes in a spicy sauce] and bibimbap [rice with vegetables].

Those items would definitely get a woke award from Mr Seymour, who might like to see a Marmite sandwich and an apple in the South Korean lunchbox.

Finland and Sweden both offer hot dishes and vegetarian and gluten-free options are available, though those options might be considered woke.

Estonia, too, offers free school lunches. I suspect herrings, meats, beetroot, pickles and potato salad are involved but I would need to let Mr Seymour determine their levels of wokeness.

I have a sneaking suspicion that dill would also be involved and that would surely be in the woke basket.

If my bright and shiny newer maths is up to scratch, there are two high-income countries which have no national school meals policy at all. They are Australia, Canada and Denmark. Or did I forget to carry the one there?

Anyway, after all this food talk I’m feeling a bit peckish so, if you don’t mind, I’ll head off for a snack. I’ll have sushi on a bed of couscous and quinoa with hummus on the side. And maybe a sprinkling of chopped dill.

Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.


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