I use to work for an energy giant; one of those companies frequently vilified for being uncaring about our environment and shareholder-pressured in their quest for ever greater profit. But the division I worked for wasn’t trying to sell more oil or gas. Rather, it was making its money by investing in energy efficient technology on the sites of large energy users such as factories and chemical plants. Most people we approached saw this as entirely logical because by helping to reduce their costs, they had more of a chance to grow or, at least, stay in business and keep buying energy. So, everybody won and, as a bonus, we could all quote our green credentials; even though nobody had coined that phrase in those days. I saw energy efficiency as a way of eking out a limited supply of fossil fuels rather than keeping the planet comfy for human beings.
Funnily enough however, there were always a few who couldn’t grasp this. They were suspicious that an oil giant would wish to encourage you to use less of their product. These people usually practiced conspiracy theory as a hobby and their parents were brother and sister. However, they exist and I occasionally meet them through our restaurant business.
As most of our customers know, at Oldfields we’re passionate advocates of understanding where meat comes from and trying to ensure that the meat that we all buy comes from animals that have been well bred, reared and slaughtered. I appreciate that it’s not always easy and, at the restaurant, we’re continuously striving to find ways of improving our knowledge and purchasing techniques.
And, of course, sometimes this results in having to buy meat that’s more expensive than other intensively-reared meat would be such as is found in our supermarkets. So, when giving talks about this, my response is usually to recommend keeping the expenditure in line by actually eating less – and that, will of course, include eating in restaurants. Which leads to one or two slow-thinkers to become suspicious and wonder at my motives as I try to succeed in the restaurant business by encouraging people to eat less.
Well, just as with energy efficiency, there are good reasons and a nice bonus. First, if we care about where our food comes from we can protect animals from a lifestyle you wouldn’t wish upon a dog. While at the same time we know that the food is of a higher quality and so we’re looking after our wellbeing as well as that of the animals. But the bonus is that as we’re frequently being accused of becoming an increasingly obese nation, we have the opportunity to lose a little weight into the bargain. Marvellous.
And it really would be marvellous because you may have read some time ago about the demand by ambulance fleets across the country for wider stretchers, heavy-duty wheelchairs and lifting gear to cope with the increasing number of fat patients. So-called bariatric ambulances are also being ordered to cope with the most obese who can’t be levered through the standard rear door of a Transit van-sized ambulance. All of this equipment will add weight to the ambulances themselves, not to mention carrying the large person lying in the back and this must have some effect on the vehicles’ fuel economy.
You might be able to see where this is going but I have to assume that a lot of these larger-than-life patients comprise many who would be suspicious of a movement to encourage them to pay more for their food. After all, some of them will have gained their size by the ingestion of much cheap processed food, caring not one jot about its provenance.
But if we could encourage them to lose weight, the ambulances would use less fuel and, our fossil fuel reserves would last longer and the planet would be more friendly to our children. So, everybody wins. And once-fat people could then claim to be green as well.