As sure as eggs is eggs

I DON T do organic, because I m a cook. I can t get into the politics of food. So said Delia Smith last week on Radio 4 s Today programme before going on to say that although the way some battery chickens are housed isn t very nice, it s important to h

I DON'T do organic, because I'm a cook. I can't get into the politics of food."

So said Delia Smith last week on Radio 4's Today programme before going on to say that although the way some battery chickens are housed isn't very nice, it's important to have cheap nutritious food which people on the poverty line can afford.

I don't buy into this.

I believe that although 70p for six battery-farm eggs is extremely good value for money (if you clear your conscience about the way they were produced), shelling out £1.60 for six free range eggs is still very good value for everybody no matter what their financial position.

Six eggs together with some bread can make six boiled eggs or a couple of omelettes - they go a long way.

Growing up in a poor neighbourhood I knew plenty of people who used to buy dirt-cheap food so they could spend their money on cigarettes and booze. Nutritious food is affordable but it depends on whether this is what families want to spend their money on.

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Delia is in a position where she knows that what she says and the ingredients she uses often influences the public. Her comments come across as irresponsible.

I'LL be the first to admit I'm not an economics expert, but even I know when there is something amiss.

I'm referring to the current rate of inflation.

The Government says it is at 2.2 per cent, a figure based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is a measurement of the average prices of consumer goods and services bought by households (such as food, heating and travel costs).

It is this figure that the Home Secretary (ie Gordon Brown) is using to bat down police and other public sector pay rises because he wants to keep them in line with inflation targets.

So far, so good.

Where it gets confusing, however, is when you throw local councils into the mix.

Let me explain with an example.

Bedfordshire County Council has announced plans to increase its council tax precept by 3.8 per cent and it is keen to point out that this is a "below-inflation" rise.

How come? Well, when it comes to inflation levels, local councils prefer to use the Retail Price Index, which currently stands at 4.1 per cent and which the Government used to measure inflation with until 2003, rather than the CPI.

Confused? You're not the only one.

One council official admitted this week that "it would take a degree in economics to fully understand what inflation really is, and then you'd be able to make it mean something else."

By using the figure of 2.2 per cent the Government is trying to reassure us that everything is hunky-dory and that inflation is low, whereas by using the 4.1 per cent figure local councils can let on that council tax rises are below inflation and we should be grateful.

Using figures to "make it mean something else" is exactly what local councils and the Government are doing.

"LEARN more about female networking advantages and how to win access and trust at the highest levels"

So said a press release about a women's networking event which dropped into my inbox the other day.

"You will be shown techniques such as 'charisma polishing' and the 'feminine side leadership principle" it says. "This workshop is perfect for women looking to improve their personal development and business skills".

So who will be teaching these women? A top-drawer feminist perhaps, or maybe a successful businesswoman at the top of her game?

Nope. A Bill Bryson look-a-like called John Donnelly!

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