A very good article picking the GAPING holes in the BBC’s article on eating healthy for £1 a day. I’ve seen a lot of these articles over the years… and non of them hold water, they simply continue to perpetrate the myths of poverty shaming. (oh and god forbid you should be poor AND fat *sigh*)
In 1995+ I was feeding a family of 4 on $80 a week. It wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t varied, and there was NO room for things like a $5.00 jar of thyme, it wasn’t nice, it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t a game. But me, and my 3 children ate 3 meals a day and we got by.
Today James and I are poor – by every monetary sense of the word. We’ve pared our lifestyle back to the point where eating IS the single biggest expense … and we’re not doing it on $80/wk anymore. We DO eat well, we DO eat healthy, we DO feed the dogs cooked food, I DO make pretty much everything ourselves, but we don’t have a lot of splurges ($10.00 worth of lamb chops we got for 30% off was the last ‘big’ spend), and it’s still not cheap. And reducing our food costs means making quite a few large investments – a BIG fridge and freezer (so when the hams go on sale for $1/lb I can buy 6 or 8 of them at once), dehydrator for food preservation not cheap, pressure cooker for doing cheap cuts of meat, a distiller, and the car boys and brewing gear, and lets talk about the cost of canning jars shall we? A lot of that is infrastructure, I won’t have to buy them again or buy them often – but they still had to be paid for.
Because James and I are living off our savings we’ve been able to do things like twice yearly trips to the Cash and Carry to buy bulk ground beef and chicken and tomatoes and flour … a $600 trip, that will last us 6 months and is a HUGE savings, but those living paycheque to paycheque can’t do that. Hopefully our veg gardens will pay off – but some of that won’t produce for at least a year, and in the case of the grapes – 4 years. And we’re lucky to have the room to do that. And if I don’t manage to learn vegetable gardening well – that’s a $1000 of our annual food budget gone. As for growing our own meat? Well there’s the cost of feed and vets and starter stock and you don’t wanna know how much fencing is gonna cost us. And those living in urban centres working and raising families in apartment blocks with no grow space and no time or energy left at the end of the day, they don’t even have the option let alone the investment capital.
The point is that we’re lucky – we’re able to make those infrastructure investments, to buy big to save long term, to make and grow our own and we still can’t feed two of us on an average of $2 a day each. Oh we could, but I swore my days of ramen noodle dinners and mac and cheese with $1.00 pack of chicken weiners were behind me (oh and those $1 packs are $2 now…) Even now what we DO spend completely blows my mind, and I do know that those who are living on $60 / month are living on ramen noodles and peanut butter what I don’t know is who’s buying those $25 steaks and $25 boxes of chicken wings. *shrug* somebody must be.
Oh eventually we’ll reach a point where the living is cheaper, grow your own veg, raise your own meat, provide your own power – but its takes investment and a fair bit of it, to live well poorly.