Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Let's talk about "cheap" food, or rather food that isn't cheap.
Food poverty is much more than just having £10 a week to spend on food.
Food poverty is having the food but not the time or physical energy to cook it. When you're working two jobs and looking after three kids, you don't have five minutes to sit down let alone thirty to chop veg for a homemade veg soup.
Food poverty is having the food but not the knowledge to cook it. Home economics has been woeful in this country in the last few years, many people can barely boil an egg, figuring out pulses is beyond them.
Food poverty is having the food, but not the equipment or fuel to cook it, a sack of chickpeas does no good if you're sitting in the dark with £0 on the meters.
Food Poverty is having just enough money to buy food but no decent shops nearby, it's when you can afford to buy cheek and skirt but cheek and skirt cuts aren't available because all the abattoirs are now grinding down these cheap cuts to make "gourmet" burgers. So the only cuts available to you are outside your budget. It's when you have a market but half the vegetables they sell have seen better days and the other half will only last a day or two when you get them home and you can't go to the market everyday for veg.
Food poverty is having just one little crappy refrigerator so you can't bulk buy and save money or store much food, did I mention you also can't go shopping everyday? So whatever tiny amount you get when you can go has to last you until you can next go.
Food poverty is having to go shopping so hungry that you faint in the store, because you haven't eaten in three days.
Food poverty is not being able to leave the house so having to spend out for home delivery and only being able to choose from a narrow selection of expensive stores that will deliver.
Food poverty is going to a food bank and finding nothing to you can eat unless you want to be violently ill. Food poverty is not being able to get to a food bank in the first place.
Food poverty is when you don't have the ability to chop fresh vegetables due to disabilities, it's when it's all you can do to crawl out of bed and stuff the first no-prep item you can reach into your mouth just to keep yourself going.
Food poverty is suffering from an illness like Celiac that means austerity cookbooks are at BEST 90% "I can't eat that" and typically 100% "I can't eat anything in here" because austerity cookery relies heavily on cheap staples like Pasta and plain wheat flour.
Food poverty is having spent so much of your life hungry that you no longer recognise the signs of hunger and have to be reminded to eat the food you have got.
Food poverty is when people who have none or few of these problems are put up as experts on being poor because your voice isn't even considered. When an expert is someone not like you who has only been hungry for a short time and never someone who is like you who has spent most of their life battling with food poverty.
Food poverty is when to get help you have to hand over the details of what you buy to someone who has no idea what living with your conditions is like, and you get to watch them frown and just know they are going to insist that you can easily cut your food bill and you know full well you can't because what they don't see is that you only eat one meal a day to ensure you have access to nutritionally dense food that won't make you sick.
Food poverty is more than having money to buy food, it's having access, having the ability to store and to cook. It's about being healthy to start off with. It's about all the things people don't think about.