She has never lived it down â this part of the Dordogne is bang in the centre of the world wide prune industry â we are even host to the one and only prune museum in the world.
We eat prunes with duck, prunes with every part of the duck, prunes with pork, prunes dipped in chocolate, we drink prune juice, we ferment prune juice, and we do everything we can think of to get rid of the end result of having dried every plum from every tree for miles around.
We donât eat prunes because we really, really, like prunes, we eat them because weâve got millions of the damn things and plums are one of the fairly limited range of edible things that like growing in stony, limey soil.
My sister-in-law, on the other hand, has no such excuse for eating them; she doesnât really, really, like them either. She just believes that terrible events will occur inside her colon should she neglect to consume her daily dose of Waitrose prunes. Especially should she have the misfortune to be consuming âforeign foodâ at the same time. Apparently the entire apparatus will turn to stone and have to be removed and replaced by a biodegradable Waitrose colostomy bag or something.
I understand people consume the dried chicken food commonly known as All-Bran for a similar reason. The English shops stock All-Bran specifically for those who have grown up believing that what goes in wonât come out without the aid of dried pellets of the surplus bran left over from making white bread for those who prefer itâ¦â¦
A generation of Dordogne farmers could not be imbued with the same fear of a pruneless future, to them, a pruneless future is on a par with a lottery win â so the marketing men came up with a different slogan for them. Pro-biotic yoghourt. They eat it by the bucket load in these parts, consumed by fear that their colon will congeal into an immobile mass. We donât have many cows here, so we dutifully consume the surplus fermented cow milk from other areas, in an effort to be âregularâ.
So much fear, engendered to shift the surplus product of one area to another. It is a reverse engineered fear, the fear of what will happen to you if you ever stop consuming the product.
Back in 2006, the EU decided to look into some of the claims made to terrorise us into eating a particular food, and decided to establish a board to look into the âhealth giving propertiesâ behind the advertising slogans.
Ioannis Misopoulos, of the International Probiotics Association believes that the industry â by which he means the industry of getting you to consume fermented cowâs milk â will go âto the wallâ with massive job losses.
I dare say his corresponding number in the Prune industry is quietly contemplating his future in some lonely wood with the news that â say it isnât so â
âScientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to dried plums of âpruneâ cultivars (Prunus domestica L.) and maintenance of normal bowel function (ID 1164) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 was that the evidence provided was âinsufficient to establish a cause and effect relationship between the consumption of dried plums of âpruneâ cultivars (Prunus domestica L.) and maintenance of normal bowel functionâ.
Or in other words, a load of old cobblers.
As were the marketing claims of a stunning 80% of the first 900 claims evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority.
The marketing men are just going to have to try harder.
In order to sell a pack of dried calories marketed as a tasty âweight lossâ milkshake, the pack must contain less than 250 calories.
In order to bear the claims, a food should contain a maximum of 250 kcal/serving and comply with specifications laid down in Directive 96/8/EC in relation to food products under Article 1 (2b) of that Directive. In order to achieve the claimed effect, one or two meals should be substituted with meal replacements daily. The target population is overweight subjects in the general population who wish to maintain their body weight after significant weight loss.
Perhaps we can sell our prunes in packs containing less than 250 calories each as a weight loss product? Substitute one or two meals a day with these bags of prunes and keep the lard off your hips on a âregularâ basisâ¦..
Problem solved Waitrose, sheâll still be buying them.