Nil by mouth? No thanks

“If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill – no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation – would you do it?”

Taking the superficially easy option without due regard to the longer-term implications is a bit like peeing yourself. It feels okay for about five seconds, but after that…

Deciding to eschew (chew – geddit?) proper food in favour of pills would, I suspect, have a very similar outcome.

It’s fairly easy to see some big plus points of pills over pies. Properly balanced nutrition, convenience and time-saving are all pretty significant positives. And if you could wash them down with a halfway decent claret, so much the better.

Work through some of the further implications and the case becomes even stronger. For a start, no food = no Masterchef = no Greg Wallace. That’s a pretty powerful argument.

Furthermore, with no need for food preparation the space currently occupied by our kitchen could be utilised for more important matters, such as additional storage for essential quilting supplies. Or ornamental elephants.

Pursuant to this, the time Madame currently spends preparing delicious yet healthy meals could be freed up for other activities. Quilting, say. Or collecting ornamental elephants.

So, you may think, why not?

Well, I’ll tell you.

It’s particularly appropriate to point out in this context that there is no such thing as a free lunch. That’s because – in my view, at any rate – there are far too many negatives in changing to a pill-based diet. The spurious advantages are, let’s face it essentially no more than convenience or, less kindly, pandering to idleness.

Well, apart from the thing about Greg Wallace.

On the other side of the ledger, consider the following reasons to be careful what you wish for:

  • Mass unemployment: no need for farmers, no need for food processing plants, no need for restaurants. Not everybody who works in these trades could be retrained as pill dispensers.
  • Wholesale slaughter of livestock bred for the table. All those poor cute little baa-lambs and fluffy little chickens. Oh hang on, they get slaughtered anyway, don’t they?
  • Agricultural land being abandoned – no need to grow crops. There’s only so much that could be replanted with flowers, or re-zoned and concreted over to build new housing estates. And imagine all those interminable public inquiries.
  • Rising violent crime. All those redundant chefs, with otherwise enviable knife skills, no longer kept off the streets by being stuck in kitchens for fourteen hours a day.

These are all very serious politico-economic consequences. But as well as these, there would also be profound implications of an aesthetic nature in a shift from traditional food to more utilitarian red and blue pills:

  • We’ve only got five senses; why waste one?
  • Eating proper food involves not only taste but also smell and sight. Living on pills would thus represent sensory short-changing on a massive scale.
  • No curry. Absolute deal-breaker.
  • No need to wash dishes, so no need for a dishwasher. Bang goes the only thing I’m good at.

But my biggest concern of all – and this is particularly relevant as we are living in France – is just exactly how these miraculous pills would be administered.

I think you know what I’m talking about.

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