The monthly fund-raising cake sale has been a tradition at Broadhurst Primary School for as long as I can remember. It was the bane of my life when my own son schooled there years ago, as there was a moral end emotional requirement that parents provide some sort of home-baked cake or confectionary offering for the sale. Being a working woman that meant donning the apron after hours to make a batch of biscuits or whatever to keep the side up and hold the family honour intact.
To pop along to Woolies or wherever for a ready-made cake or packet of muffins was considered cheating and only acceptable under extreme circumstances – nothing less than a death in the family or at least life-threatening injury. Quite rightly, home-baked was always deemed better, right? No, wrong!
Over in the health and safety obsessed UK a primary school in the Midlands city of Sheffield has banned the bringing of any home-made food item to its christmas fair unless the cook has a food and hygiene certificate from the local council.
The head teacher justified this absurd ban on the grounds of health, saying that he is following council guidelines.
Presumably this educational equivalent of Howard Hughes he thinks mass-produced factory fare full of dubious chemical additives the preferable option, rather a damning indictment of the home circumstances of all his pupils. Strikes me the parents should collectively tell him where to get off in no uncertain terms.
Sadly that’s not an isolated loony incident. It’s now almost universally obligatory to obtain a health and safety certificate if you want to sell your home-made jams and pickles or any other edible treat at local fairs or farmer’s markets in the UK.
Where once the store-bought item was considered a poor substitute for the real thing, now authorities look on the latter with suspicion, as though there have been any number of recorded epidemics of severe food poisoning from domestic Victoria sponge cakes sandwiched together with some home-made raspberry jam.
Yet we know all too well that hygiene standards in many food production factories fall far short of what is acceptable, not to mention items of food imported from countries where the general level of cleanliness is not necessarily next to Godliness or even anywhere in its vicinity.
The Women’s Institute in the UK earned its ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ moniker from its bake sales and Britain has a proud tradition of baking, pickling, preserving and bottling. Where would the ploughman’s lunch be without a pickled onion or a spoonful of chutney?
What is an afternoon tea without a slice of cake, a breakfast with no marmalade? Sad to say now idiotic council officials think pickles poison, cakes contaminate and jam must be full of germs.
Clearly their idea of living dangerously is eating someone’s home-made scone, spread thickly with strawberry jam made with fruit from the garden and washed down with a glass of home-brewed elderberry wine or blackberry cordial. I’d like to see the morbidity statistics to back that up.
Happily common sense still prevails hereabouts and we have a handful of christmas fairs coming up where such little hand-made treats may still be sold legally and without a scare-mongering warning that consumption is at one’s own risk.
Yes, christmas is nearly upon us but I don’t need a calendar to tell me that. I saw avocadoes on sale in Village Spar this week for nearly ten bucks, which is always a dead giveaway.