While I do agree with a number of his criticisms - especially that supermarkets attempts to remedy unhealthy eating habits are akin to supplying clean needles to drug addicts - I seriously wonder to what extent I can trust a foodie who is constantly obsessed with eating pork belly and offal.
For me to take him seriously, he'd need to fully acknowledge the benefits of becoming a veggie. Not only would his own chances of a longer life improve markedly ( and the opportunity to eat more excellent meals!) with both bowel cancer and heart disease much less likely, but arguments for a more economic dietary pattern would follow, with fish and meat being the most expensive items on most people's food bills.
In addition, if more people took up vegan and vegetarian diets the plight of the Third World could be altered considerably, as more land could be allocated to growing crops for their own countries' subsistence as opposed to their use and export of animal feed. Moreover, the vast areas of rainforest chopped down and then turned into grazing for cattle to feed the world's burger-snorters, would be deemed unnecessary.
To adapt George Orwell's dictum about socialists : 'Food critics should be encouraged to live out their ideals.'
I have blogged previously about the insidious influences of supermarkets, though perhaps haven't made my views completely clear. Despite all their faults, they have still become meeting-places for people to chat, like the High Streets of yesteryear.
While supermarkets like Tesco in Merthyr have sucked the life-blood out of our town centre like some giant concrete vampire ( now I see young Goths wanting to congregate there), others such as the Co-op have tried to set a better example.
Unfortunately, the latter cannot compete in terms of prices and there is a real need for another kind of co-operative which sells local goods as well as Fairtrade products from the Third World in particular.
My friends in the States were greatly involved in such a venture over there ( why do we copy all the worst aspects of that culture?) and it could be both 'green' and sustainable, using allotment surpluses.
A suggested name could be 'Cyd-Fwyd Cymru', to take 'cyd' from the togetherness of the co-operative ideal and combine it with 'food'.
It is absolutely vital that alternatives are set up to challenge the hegemony of the multi-national supermarkets.
Sadly, I don't believe that small shops can do this any more, with high street rents and business taxes being too prohibitive.
Such a Wales-wide co-op could utilise local skills - from bakery to micro-breweries - and could offer an online service as well.
Farmers' markets are all very well, but they are sporadic and tend to be too pricey.
Supermarkets are places where junk food mania is perpetrated and where shoppers are tempted with ridiculous offers (Rayner is right to decry the Bogoffs on so many unhealthy options).
Amongst a plethora of sugar-high goods in Merthyr Tesco you might just spot a charity box for Diabetes UK on the counter.......the ultimate irony!
Of course, they are also places which reflect and encourage prevailing propaganda as witnessed last year, with masses of Union Jack products and monarchist regalia. I always expected a Loyalist marching band to appear from behind the cheap offers, drumming down the aisle with the baton-wielder tossing, instead of a staff, a long bottle of Coke!
Rayner's reviews focus on restaurants which are way beyond the means of most and I'd sincerely hope that 'Cyd-Fwyd Cymru' would offer opportunities to avoid Value products and their very dubious nutritional and taste benefits (even if you're a fan of horse!), yet at reasonable prices.
Rayner believes we can reform these supermarkets, but he is naive. They will merely come up with ever more subtle ways of exploitation.
CITY OF FOOD
I need my sugar fix,
I need it desperately.
My gut is dragging on the floor,
I've got to take it with me.
The supermarket is my dealer,
all there for me to see:
soon as I enter, towers of doughnuts,
malls of Coke facing me.
Then there are many Bogoff deals
celebrating Second Cousin's (or somethings) Day.
Skyscrapers of lager cans and packets
of crisps the size of window displays.
Hurry through fruit and vegetables,
I'm looking for pies and pasties.
They're there, whole aisles of them,
not sweet but lying seductively.
The real business, streets of cakes
and huge blocks of lovely chocky.
I'm shaking now, bars by the till,
I slip a couple in my trolley.
Can't wait for my city of food,
when I settle in front of the telly.