Dear Daniel,

I watched your mum feed you pure love and you thought it was rice. This morning I saw the way she forced spoonfuls of steamed love hearts into your hungry little mouth whilst making sure you didn’t choke the cat again. You will never find a better cook than your mum. The reason is simple, no one will ever love you more than her, so no one will cook food that feeds every cell of your body with carbohydrates, electrolytes and angel wings. That’s the magic of food.

Here’s the sad news. Someone stole the magic. It probably started with German professors in white coats who invented fake nitrogen 100 years ago. Nitrogen is to plants what lollipops are to you. They can’t get enough of it! Mother Natures answer to Santa Claus’s roof top performances is called ‘composting’. By doing this miraculous cleanup trick she drops a few lollipops at the hungry roots of plants and trees every now and then. Just enough to keep them happy. Like any good mum, she makes sure that there are plenty of other yummy things to eat too, like dead spiders, bird poo, and even fish guts which are left behind by greedy bears who ate too fast. These yummy treats keep the soil healthy and from there grow lots of super-strong plants for all of us to eat.

Now back to the Germans. They thought it was a good idea to raise plants entirely on lollipops! No longer would plants stuff their hungry roots with mouldy leaf sandwiches, no longer would slugs moisturize their leaves with slimy hormone creams. Just boring nitrogen pellets that taste like sawdust, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sometimes Nature protests and says ‘I just want to build a forest where forgetful squirrels accidentally plant walnut trees! (this happens all the time in a forest) so she gets to work. She sees a field full of bored and hungry corn plants so she sends in these really amazing fixers that can provide all sorts of yummy food for the soil. The farmers call these helpers ‘weeds’ and usually sprays them with stuff that smells worse than mum’s hair spray and makes everybody cry and sick and sad.

When the boring food is ready for harvest it gets brought to really big buildings without windows or even playgrounds that they call ‘factories’. The cooks who work there are trained to follow very strict recipes and the only way to make them work is putting a giant steel lock around their heart and keeping the key in a special ‘safe’ inside a bank next to mysterious papers that speak of mortgages and pension schemes. That’s another bedside story.

The cooks in the factory have great big spice racks just like the shelf in your mums’ kitchen. But on their racks, we don’t find pepper corns and cinnamon sticks. Their spices are called things like E671 and 2-hydroxybiphenyl. These spices can give you very funny dreams and if you eat too much of them you may never wake up again, so the cooks must wear masks and gloves to stop them from getting sleepy and falling into the giant soup pan.

The factories place this strange stuff in very shiny and colourful wrappers and sometimes even use kids your age to promote this stuff as ‘food’ on national television! When you watch these advertisements remember what I said before, you will never find a better cook than your mum.

I know there may be a day when you leave school and instead of going home to drink fresh Jasmine tea with your mum you will choose to ride your scooter to the corner shop instead to buy snacks from a food factory. If the potatoes in your crisp packet taste too salty, remember it’s because of the big tears they cried when they were thirsty for worm juice.



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