I just came back from a week-long trip to England to visit friends. I spent a few days in Brighton and Hove, then went up to London for the rest of the trip. England has always gotten a bad rap for having bad food. But I personally think that British food can be great. Baked beans, fish and chips, sticky toffee pudding, while not exactly healthy, if made with quality ingredients are all delicious. I actually think the quality of the milk, meat and cheese there is much better than what you normally find here in the states. Maybe it’s because statistically they still have more farms than we do in the states (67.8% of all land is farmland in the UK vs. 40.1% in the US.) And they have adopted organic farming more than farmers in the states have (UK has 4.39% of farmland organic, the US only .22%). And ‘local’ in the UK is much easier to achieve there since as a smaller country. Food has to travel less to get to a destination.
Two other things about British food that I found better than in the US:
1. Several of their big grocery chains have really good prepared food. Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer all have their own lines of prepared, refrigerated food. The stuff I had – Indian Curry and pasta and sauces were excellent. (It’s already seeming like prepared food is going to be a theme on this blog…)
2. Labeling. Though it isn’t consistent across brands, products or stores, in general I found the nutrition labeling to be much more informative and easier to understand. Use of icons, pie charts and colored indicators help explain nutrition values in much simpler terms than the simple black & white Nutrition Data lable that you find in the states (how often do you see people - especially older people - in grocery isles digging around for their reading glasses just to read a food lable?). If they could find the best and most informative labeling system, and make it standard, it would be even better.
And there is a third: Crisps. The ubiquitous Walker’s crisps have come up with a contest for the best new flavor (or flavour if you prefer): My favorite? Cajun Squirrel.