Telegraph Comment of the Week (#15)

This week’s comment isn’t so much a comment as it is an exchange between two xenophobes. I found this exchange on the comments thread of an article by Julia Llewellyn-Smith, which is entitled “The great gluten-free scam” . It’s hysterical. She suggests, using a photograph of Gwyneth Paltrow and citing a few celebs, that gluten-free food is faddish. She tells us:

But coeliacs make up only one in 100 of the population, while one in five of us is buying gluten-free products. Surveys of US consumers show that, of these, only five per cent are buying to combat coeliac disease, with the vast majority citing their reasons as “digestive health”, “nutritional value” and “to help me lose weight”. People have been eating bread since biblical times without reporting adverse effects. So why has it recently become demonised? The gluten-free “community” points to a recent surge in the number of people being diagnosed as coeliacs. Not so long ago GPs expected to see one case during their whole career, but now one per cent of the population has it. (Though others say the rise is simply due to improved diagnostic methods and greater awareness of the condition.)

What Llewellyn-Smith has failed to consider is the way in which wheat has changed over the millenia. The wheat that we currently have in our bread and cakes is completely different to ancient wheat, which had a lower gluten content. Llewellyn-Smith appears to be suggesting there is a conspiracy of left-wing hippy do-gooders who are out to contaminate our precious fluids.

Now onto that exchange. It doesn’t matter what subject is under discussion, there’s always someone who wants to come along and racialize it. First we have “Mithrandius” suggesting that “Caucasians” aren’t affected by sickle cell disease and then “StoutCortez” spouts a load of ignorant rubbish about its causes.

Coeliac disease and sickle cell

Sickle Cell Disease affects people of African extraction and those from the Mediterranean. This includes some Italians, Greeks, Maltese, Turks, Arabs, Bulgarians and South Asians. It is not, as some would suggest, confined solely to black people, nor does Vitamin D or the apparent inability to “synthesize it” have anything to do with the disease.

This map shows the distribution of Sickle Cell Disease:

A lack of sunlight and a poor diet leads to rickets, which is now making a return to Britain. Funny how it always seems to reappear when the Tories are in power. No?


Filed under Media, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

8 responses to “Telegraph Comment of the Week (#15)

  1. Gregg Hill

    That comment and linked article about the UK Tories and rickets is creepy. It puts me in mind of a comment of Christopher Hitchens that in Sweden it is (was?) impossible to tell the difference between a poor child and a wealthy child by physical examination alone. One of the differences between weaker and stronger welfare states but I didn’t realize that the difference could be that stark.

    • Many working class and poor people live in substandard housing. In the UK, there is no minimum space requirement for housing and some of it actually lacks natural daylight. The Tories are social Darwinists to the bone. They’re also obsessed with a nostalgic image of the 19th century. This gives them a certain blindness when it comes to the real social problems (disease, malnutrition, poor housing) that were created by laissez-faire capitalism.

  2. Gregg Hill

    One thing I forgot to ask, if this is going on in the UK is it happening in the US? Let’s hope that Prince Charles, the red tory who will be king, says something about this.

  3. Suusi M-B

    IIRC Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic mutation that provides some protection form malaria.

    Well done for pointing out the rickets bit, its damning evidence hat there is no such thing as caring conservatism.

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