Olympic ideals

I’m careful about who we use to supply our restaurant. There are certain meat suppliers in the North East with whom I wouldn’t begin to associate ourselves as they don’t match the standards and values we’ve set. We couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t believe in our suppliers and the raw materials we get from them. It’s essential that the ingredients with which we cook are as good as we can get. Because not only does that mean that the finished dish is better, it means that everybody involved with each dish – and that includes anyone serving it to the customers, the customers themselves as well as everyone in the kitchen – is affected by the ethos. Starting with food producers who understand this means that we better understand and respect our cooking food than we would otherwise and we find that it gives us an attitude that’s appreciated by our customers.

So, with the advert over, how are others affected by whom they are associated? For instance, isn’t it the case when politicians take the moral high ground, they then find it impossible to maintain their credibility as we then find that they’ve sold their soul to the banks and others who appear to be occupying the lower slopes?

Never mind though because the Olympics are coming and that’ll divert our attention and make us all feel good and restore our faith in human nature. We can spend a couple of weeks in front of the telly absorbing the culture of success through the purity of sheer will, self-management and self-discipline while being told that it’s all been made possible by the sponsorship of the likes of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Of course there are other Olympic sponsors but these are some of the largest and you maybe should wonder why. You may have read that McDonald’s are building their biggest ever restaurant right inside the Olympic village and that, elsewhere throughout the land, all their products are festooned with the officially approved Olympic logo. And so, by the association of sponsorship, it seems that the ideals of the Olympics and that of the sponsors have something in common. What can that be?

I seem to remember, around the time that London won the privilege of hosting the Olympics, a key objective of the bid was to get all our fat school children running and jumping, just like in the old days, instead of sitting indoors staring at LCD screens. It seemed that television and computers were sending the wrong message to our future generations rather than encouraging them to lead a healthier more competitive lifestyle by going out and getting some exercise and, er, eating better.

To achieve this, our children need to be taught how to enjoy exercise and to develop the taste for food that’ll do them good. On that basis, recent attempts to get children eating better at school sits well alongside the Olympic organisers’ ideal of getting them to partake in sport; although it appears quite a metaphorical mountain to climb.

This is not a rant about the sponsors themselves but, on the basis that advertising and sponsorship works – and we know it does otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people employed within the industry, couldn’t the organisers of the Olympics have aligned themselves with main sponsors that more accurately reflect the objectives of the movement? I’d have loved to have built a massive restaurant in the Olympic village but maybe, just maybe I couldn’t have offered enough dosh.

If we’re holding a charity fund-raising event in the restaurant, we look for support in the form of sponsorship from others who reflect our beliefs and that of the charity we’re supporting. I wouldn’t, for instance, seek the support of a pork producer that uses intensive methods to rear the pigs. It’s not what we believe in. So, on that basis, do Olympians believe in associating themselves with fast-food and sugary drinks? What is the link if it’s not purely hard cash? And, that being the case, what does it do to the values of the Olympics overall?

There’s much to argue in favour of the Olympics as an advert for the UK and a stimulator of our economy in general; albeit largely in the South of England. But who’s really going to benefit the most? And at what cost to our future un-food-savvy generation?


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