LONDON – Britains youngest food critic is back in business.
A Scottish local authority on Friday retreated in the face of an online outcry and lifted a ban on 9-year-old blogger Martha Payne, who had been ordered to stop taking photos of the lunches served at her school cafeteria.
Her images of uninspiring school meals – one consisted of two croquettes, a plain cheeseburger, three slices of cucumber and a lollipop – drew international attention. The blog, set up about six weeks ago as a writing project and to help raise money for a school-meals charity, has drawn more than 2 million hits.
Martha, who lives in the coastal town of Lochgilphead, about 130 miles west of Edinburgh, gave each meal a food-o-meter rating and offered an assessment of its contents.
Id really like to know where the chicken comes from, she wrote in one entry about chicken fajitas, so I am going to write to the lady in charge to ask. I know it comes from a hen, but Id like to know where the hen lived.
In a statement, Argyll and Bute Council said Paynes photos were misleading and had caused distress to cafeteria staffers. The council was particularly irked by a report about the blog in Scotlands Daily Record newspaper headlined Fire the Dinner Ladies.
Marthas father, David Payne, said the blog was never intended to make the food look unappetizing. It includes such positive assessments as lunch was really nice today and it helped cheer me up.
The ban became an online talking point Friday, with free speech group the Index on Censorship even weighing in on Paynes behalf.
Amid the publicity, donations to Marys Meals, the charity the blog promotes, climbed from $4,700 to almost $31,000 Friday.