And it consigns nutritionally poor junk to its rightful place out in the cold, says Joanna Blythman

News that sales of porridge oats have surged in the snowy weather, along with snow shovels, de-icer and hot water bottles, suggests that the battle for real food is not a lost cause.

Let's face it, when you wake up to a freezing world, a bowl of frigid cereal with a splash of semi-skimmed white water straight from the fridge just doesn't cut it. A steaming bowl of porridge with whole milk? Now that's something to fortify you before you brave the great outdoors.

Freezing weather focuses the mind and puts us back in touch with our nutritional needs. Our animal survival instincts tell us that a bowl of some overpriced, over-processed, over-sweetened cereal isn't going to sustain us.

Every snowfall puts us back in the mood for real food, and pulls us back from the raft of nutritionally impoverished junk that has provided manufacturers with a licence to print money. When there's a foot of snow outside the front door, that old egg marketing jingle 'Go to work on an egg' no longer seems dated, but rather appropriate. The much-demonised fat on a bacon rasher becomes something that will keep body and soul together, not a dietary evil.

My local Q Guild butcher, who has done a valiant job of fighting off opposition from the multiples mainly because his meat is so clearly infinitely better has been even busier with the snow.

His shop is opposite a large Co-op, which has been running out of meat at regular intervals, a legacy of the fact that it keeps no back-up supplies, only what's on the shelf. My butcher, on the other hand, still matures his own meat and keeps whole carcases in store. So he has been doing a roaring trade.

I suspect that he has also benefited from our hard-wired urge to keep ourselves alive by eating sustaining food, so stewing cuts such as oxtail, and tasty soup cuts like lamb shank and boiling beef, have been flying out the shop.

Let's face it, a pappy industrial pizza daubed with tomato paste and rubbery mozzarella is no competition whatsoever for a heartening bowl of Scotch broth or a Lancashire hotpot.

Sometimes it can seem that we have lost our real food instincts, but the white-out has jumpstarted them, just like a frozen, flat battery, bursting into life.

Joanna Blythman is a food journalist and author of Bad Food Britain.