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The Death of Three Square Meals?

Sheila Dillon looks at the rise of the 'grab n go' grazing culture and asks if snacking is killing the tradition of three square meals a day.

Hectic lifestyles are increasing the demand for ready-made, 'grab n go' convenient foods. Today's time pressed commuters buy bagels at the station or carry breakfast bars in their briefcase. Retailers have led this change - offering snack size portions and handy grab packs to stave off hunger. Gourmet 'food on the go' has been identified as a key growth sector and sales are increasing. Sheila Dillon asks if, in our hurry, we've forgotten the value of three square meals a day, eaten at a table at set mealtimes.

She meets restaurant guide writer Richard Harden who takes her on a whistle-stop tour of the speedy choices on offer including the fashion for "the small plate menu". There's now no distinction between lunch and dinner - if you fancy a steak at 4pm most cities will be able to help. Consequently people seem to be losing track of when and how much they can eat. It's all just one long munchfest.

Sheila also hears from staff and children at a Nottinghamshire school where pupils were arriving having had no breakfast and sometimes no dinner. Their response was to offer free breakfasts to those from families on low incomes but their experience offers some revealing insights into the eating habits of children across all incomes.

With so many snacks to choose from, do those "on the go" have more nutritious options than simply crisps and a chocolate bar or should we be asking if there is a more serious cost to this new bite-sized way of eating? What is the true cost of speed and convenience?

Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.

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28 minutes


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