Rebel Kitchen

On its way to a shop near you… tearing up convention like a guest ticket to Weight Watchers… a healthy snack with a badass personality.

Gone are the days of not-so ‘innocent’ smoothies (a company owned by Coca-Cola) masquerading their high-sugar contents as angelic sources of goodness. Of healthy nutrition being a matter of boring food and cod liver oil sipped reluctantly upon rising. A new gang is in town…

Forget oily denims and bar brawls – we’re vigilantes fighting a new kind of battle. A battle against illness, obesity and snacks that taste like rubbery old boots.

Yeah, we’re hard-wired to like salt, sweet and fat because in nature we didn’t get much of it and had to work hard to find it. But mother nature didn’t plan on big corporations processing food within an inch of it’s life, lacing it with too much sugar, salt, fat, additives and preservatives, where the lists of ingredients are so long and so hard to pronounce that they are no longer even food. We’ve been delivered a bum deal for far too long.

[Rebel Kitchen]

Rebel Kitchen offer a range of dairy-free mylks with ‘no additives, no preservatives and so no worries!’ … and it is refreshing to hear a company talk about health in such terms. The Hell’s Angels would no doubt have been appalled at the adoption of a rebellious aesthetic by a health food business. But the times have changed.

banana rkitch
From the 200ml kids range

Rebels past and present

The outlaw biker gangs of the 1950s and 60s – of which the Hell’s Angels became the acid-tripping, jailbird archetypes – were the losers of American society, alienated and cut off from an American Dream which recognised them only as a problem….

… like Genghis Khan on an iron horse, a monster steed with fiery anus, flat out through the eye of a beer can and up your daughter’s leg with no quarters asked and none given…

[Hell’s Angels, 1966]

Theirs was an existential battle intended to reclaim a sense of agency in a hostile world, though they may not have realised it at the time…

The Angels don’t like being called losers, but they have learned to live with it. ‘Yeah, I guess I am,’ said one. ‘But you’re looking at one loser who’s going to make a hell of a scene on the way out.’

[Hell’s Angels, 1966]

Rebellion today must work from a different starting point. And at a time when illness is becoming mainstream, disdain for the status quo may lead in a very different direction.

In particular so far as the food industry should be concerned, obesity has become a highly visible problem over the last forty years: in 1972, 2.7% of men and women in the UK were obese. Today, more than a quarter of the adult population of the UK is obese, and these figures are set to worsen:

In 2007, the Foresight report estimated that by 2025, 47% of men and 36% of women (aged between 21 and 60) will be obese. By 2050, it is estimated that 60% of males and 50% of females could be obese. More recent modelling suggests that by 2030, 41% to 48% of men and 35% to 43% of women could be obese if trends continue.

[Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2014]

BEFORE: Marlon Brando, Wild One
BEFORE: Marlon Brando, Wild One (1953)


Hairy Bikers
AFTER: The Hairy Bikers, TV chefs and authors of a diet book (2014)

Dietary advice and the obesity crisis

Many researchers have offered analyses and explanations of the obesity crisis. Zoe Harcombe for instance links the obesity ‘epidemic’ to flawed diet advice propagated by food manufacturers:

This book will take you on the journey that I have been through, as an obesity researcher, from thermodynamics and peanuts under Bunsen burners to obesity organisations sponsored by food manufacturers and carbohydrates being confused with fats. Out of an illogical assumption that people have made themselves obese (when this is the last thing that they want to be), through being greedy and lazy, may come a different logical conclusion that our current diet advice a) doesn’t work and b) worse – that it is actually the cause of the obesity epidemic that it is supposed to cure.

[The Obesity Epidemic, 2010]

The particular dietary advice Harcombe refers to is the government recommendation to replace traditional ‘energy-dense’ sources of fat with carbohydrate-rich starchy foods:

UK obesity levels were remarkably constant and small for decades… Suddenly, in evolutionary terms, and dramatically, in amounts, obesity levels increased from 2-3% in the 1970’s to 25% today… It seems so obvious that the starting point for understanding the obesity epidemic should be – what changed in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s? Was there one thing that happened that could explain the sudden and dramatic increase in obesity?

Yes there was. In 1977 the USA changed its public health diet advice. In 1983 the UK followed suit. A more accurate description would be that we did a complete U-turn in our diet advice from “Farinaceous and vegetable foods are fattening, and saccharine matters are especially so” to “base your meals on starchy foods”. Obesity has increased up to ten fold since – coincidence or cause?

[The Obesity Epidemic, 2010]

Even if Harcombe is correct, dietary advice and the food industry will not change overnight. The combined revenues of the (food, drink & drug) partners and premium sponsors of the American Dietetic Association are $467 billion… Illness and obesity are highly profitable industries, but things may yet be changed from the bottom-up:

I say in this chapter what I think will happen, rather than what would save the most lives the quickest – (immediate and unequivocal government leadership back to real food). I think that change will happen with a bottom up evolution of enlightened individuals. The sensible ones will realise that nature can feed us best and will eat nature’s produce. The gullible ones and the processed food addicts will likely continue to eat man-made food and will suffer obesity and various ailments as a result.

[The Obesity Epidemic, 2010]

Rebel Kitchen is just such a bottom-up venture, showing also that healthy eating can be made commercially viable.


[Rebel Kitchen]

Being rebellious/Being healthy

Listen up: healthy eating is no longer a matter of boring food and doing what you’re told. It’s much more exciting than that… Against the vested interests of food manufacturers, even government advisers, good nutrition involves independent thought versus the faulty and failing recommendations of a consumer society…

It is not a political thing, but the sense of new realities, of urgency, anger and sometimes desperation in a society where even the highest authorities seem to be grasping at straws.

[Hell’s Angels, 1966]

Rebel Kitchen: keep fighting on.

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