Today I’m talking about food privilege and why we all need to be aware of it. This is a bit of a rant so if you aren’t in the mood to read to my waffling I understand.
Jamie Oliver and the government have caused a bit of a stir over the last couple of weeks.
First the sugar tax was implemented, then the campaign #AdEnough (a ban on junk food adverts) started making waves and now they want to take away BOGOF offers – All in a bid to combat childhood obesity.
And I get it, I do.
Everyone wants their kids to be happy and healthy and grow up to be happy and healthy right?
But taking away BOGOF deals and adding extra tax to unhealthy foods isn’t going to change that much.
All it’s going to do is leave low income families in an even crappier position.
Jamie Oliver is trying to do good, I understand that, but instead of taking away deals on ‘junk food’, why not work on making healthy food cheaper and educating children and families on how to have a healthy diet on a budget?
He is coming from an extremely privileged position and he isn’t thinking (or at least it doesn’t seem like he is anyway) about the lives he could be damaging.
Because it’s not just low-income families with kids that will be affected by the change. It’s old people who only have their pensions to live on. It’s people who can’t get to a big supermarket and have to make do with the local corner shop’s offerings. It’s people who can’t use an oven or a stove or utensils for whatever reasons. It’s people who are on the minimum wage. It’s people who work all hours of the day and don’t want to cook when they get home because they would rather spend time with their loved ones or, you know, SLEEP.
It won’t just affect child obesity, it will affect everyone.
Jamie Oliver and the government aren’t looking at it that way (well I don’t think they are anyway) and to be honest, the whole thing seems like an attack on the working class.
A lot of people seem to be arguing that healthy food is cheaper but I can hand on heart say that it’s not. Before I started going to the gym I filled my trolley with crap but since I started eating better I’ve added £20+ on to my weekly shop.
And I’m one of the lucky ones.
Jody and I have a pretty solid income and we can afford the luxury of eating well. We have a car aswell so we can go to a big supermarket and load up the boot. In fact, we have THREE big supermarkets in our city and one is just around the corner from us. We can afford takeaways and regular meals out. We both come from families where the fridge and cupboards were always full. We never went without as children and we never worried about where our next meal was going to come from.
We are extremely privileged and I am very aware of this.
Just because I’m privileged, doesn’t mean I’m not aware of the crisis that’s happening in our country. People are relying on food banks more and more and taking away affordable meal deals may cause even more problems. Kids are going to school hungry because their parents can’t afford food (and the fucking tories took away their school dinners so they don’t even get a decent meal at school). There are places where fresh fruit and veg just isn’t accessible due to city living.
It’s not as easy as taking away BOGOF offers and adding more tax to ‘bad’ food.
Yeah, some people are lazy and feed their kids crap – I’m not completely blinkered – but some people simply cannot afford to eat well.
Some people say ‘Well a carrot is 6p and jacket potatoes are 30p and blah blah blah’ but have you tried living off carrots and potatoes? No. I imagine it’s pretty fucking boring. Veg can be cheap, I know, but if you don’t know how to prepare it or make it taste nice then you aren’t going to buy it are you? Fruit is pretty cheap – if you like bananas and apples – but if you want something exotic like mango or berries? Better take out a bank loan pals. Then there is meat and fish – breaded versions tend to be much cheaper than fresh versions so if you were on a lower income, which one do you think you will be drawn too?
Then there’s time. After a day at work, most days I simply cannot be arsed to spend an hour standing over the cooker. And I a) only have to cook for two and b) don’t have a lot of life admin to do once I’m home (like cleaning, sorting the kids out, washing, bath time, etc etc etc). I can’t imagine what it’s like for people with kids or those who work long hours/have super stressful jobs. A lot of people would rather free up their time as much as possible so they can do things that they enjoy.
Rather than making unhealthy food more expensive, the government need to be focusing on education – in schools, college and in communities – so that people can prepare food and be able to make quick, healthy, edible meals. They also need to look at bringing down costs of healthy food so people can actually afford decent quality products and have a varied, balanced diet. Instead of lining their own pockets, paying the DUP £1billion and okaying a £61million repair bill for a fucking clock, maybe the government should be investing in the NHS and education to help people improve their overall quality of life.
I don’t have the answers -I’m not an expert in food or nutrition or politics. I’m just a privileged gob shite with a blog who thinks everyone has the right to feel full – but it’s not up to me to have the answers. Our government should be looking out for people who on the lower end of the monetary spectrum and they just aren’t.
And that isn’t fair.
Okay, that’s my rant over. I know it’s a departure from scheduled programming but I needed to get it off my chest. Like I say, I’m not an expert, just someone who is passionate about food. For further reading I highly recommend Ruby Tandoh’s ‘Eat Up’ or her twitter feed (This post was inspired by her book). There’s probably more references available but I wrote this in the heat of the moment and didn’t have chance to look into things further. Like I said, I’m not an expert but by sharing my opinion other privileged people might be made aware of the problems other people face, day to day.
I’m going to repeat myself here – I don’t have the answers to the problem but if you want to do something you could donate to your local food bank or help out a neighbour or a friend in need. I guess you could even write to your local MP and tell them that the proposed changes affect everyone, not just kids.
If you have any comments – whether you agree or disagree with me or know of any charities that help people on a lower income – I would love to hear them. Just remember this is a civilised place and we don’t appreciate super shitty comments. Healthy discussion is encouraged.