Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The difference between choice and necessity

Many of the blogs I read on simple living, cutting back, slowing down and so on are written by people who have made a choice about the lifestyle they want to lead. These are sometimes prompted by changes in circumstances, but are predominantly about choice.

However, recently some blogs have started appearing which are not drive by choice. People living on unbelievably and unsustainably limited budgets, feeding their families for £10 a week or less. For these people, the lifestyle they blog about is not chosen but a seemingly inescapable and terrible fate. I have only really read one blog but the level of resilience, creativity and passion in such dire circumstances is something that demands respect. So now I'd like to introduce her to you.

In her own words: A Girl Called Jack

Poverty isn’t just having no heating, or not quite enough food, or unplugging your fridge and turning your hot water off. It’s not a tourism trade, it’s not cool, and it’s not something that MPs on a salary of £65k a year plus expenses can understand, let alone our PM who states that we’re all in this together.

Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one weetabix and says ‘more mummy, bread and jam please mummy’ as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawn shop first, and how to tell him that there is no bread or jam.

Hunger Hurts, written 30 July 2012.

Jack's blog is a fantastic resource of tasty, varied recipes on a shoestring budget (around 10-30p per serving). I can't wait to try out her super-simple soda bread recipe, and the sheer variety of dishes is impressive. She won the Fortnum and Mason food blog award, and a quick trip to her blog will show you why. (Her record? Carrot, cumin and kidney burger, 9p.)

Her blog is more than that, though. It's a a passionate and biting comment on modern politics and poverty. She identifies two kinds of food poverty - lack of funds, yes, but also lack of knowledge, skill and confidence about cooking on a budget. She comments on the misperception that ready meals are cheaper than cooking, and calls on us not to accept the availability, convenience and price of ready meals as an excuse for child obesity. I totally agree with her that we need home economics to be taught in schools - how to budget, how to cook, how to maintain your living environment.

Please go visit her blog and take a walk with her along the food poverty line.

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