I feel like the post has to start with a little disclaimer. No I don’t understand what’s it’s like to live below the poverty line, and I’m grateful for that, I absolutely don’t know how I’d live on as little as £10 a week for two. What I do understand is that there are a lot of people, way too many, who are really really struggling, like struggling more than anybody should. I appreciate that, I feel sincerely sorry for those that do struggle and I’m more than grateful that I’ve never had to.
But, to get to my point, I’m sure so is Jamie Oliver. To be honest, I’m so sure (or at least really want to believe) that he’s not targeting the people that are really struggling and having to turn over each penny with his messages. As I understand it, he’s targeting people where wrong choices (wrong in terms of wrong if you want to eat as healthily as you possibly can on your particular budget) are made on a daily basis. Families, where they get a lot of takeaways, which I understand can be a tempting offer with burgers being as cheap as £1 at McDonalds. Or families where a lot of cigarettes are smoked and a lot of alcohol is drunk. Obviously in those cases a lot of changes can be made, because you can make your own (veggie)burger for 9p according to Jack from A Girl called Jack. I deeply believe that he never wanted to offend people like Jack, who try their hardest to feed their family with whatever they can afford, I believe that with his message, that yes can be interpreted this way, he’s trying to get to people who do the things he described (eat chips in front of a huge TV). I’ve waited to write this blogpost, because I really didn’t want to come across judgemental, since I’m mainly writing this post, because all the hate that’s going on online all the time, upsets me.
From reading more and more about all of this, I gathered that a lot of people who are poor and have big TVs, that they got them for free, because someone gave it away or on freecycle or something similar. And I do think that people still have the right to choose a TV (because even if the TV is free, a TV license is pretty expensive, which is why during Uni, D and I chose to just watch stuff on iPlayer etc, since we definitely needed Internet, meaning that Internet was an expense already anyway), everyone is allowed to choose their priorities, but if you decide that nutritious food is your main priority, I tend to agree with Mr Oliver, that some people (unfortunately!) might have to make some sacrifices, which may or may not include not having a TV and not ordering so many takeaways. But let me stress again, I don’t think so many people below the poverty line do live like this, I think there’s some people who are living like this, who are claiming to struggle (which is down to not sorting their priorities out), which reflects badly on all those who try their hardest every single day.
Of course, JO will earn lots of money from this, and of course he’s so far away from the poverty line, but he’s also worked his way up there. He works hard for his success, and yes a lot of people who work hard haven’t been rewarded to the same extent (if at all), which is sad, but it’s also life.
I don’t think that should be ground enough for all the hating that’s once more going on. I’m so sick and tired of it. He’s written a book followed many requests for affordable recipes, and yes he’ll earn lots of money from it, but as far as I understand it, it really is supposed to help people eat healthier food for not very much money. He said that the average price per portion in the book is £1.40, which I think is pretty good. Of course it’s not good enough for everyone, but for a lot of people I think this could be pretty useful!
I want to make sure everyone who reads this understands that I think everyone can and should have their own opinions, and I understand that people who are struggling might find what he said offensive, because the image portrayed in his message and that a lot of society has, is not applicable to them, because they work incredibly hard to make things work, to not send their kids to bed hungry and they still get put in the same category as those who spend money on the wrong (see above) things.
I hope my point comes across, I really do, because I kind of felt like I needed to write this and I really don’t want to come across like I agree with that everyone who’s poor is like this (but then I don’t think that’s what he meant, which in a way is my whole point).
How people spend money for food is something I think about a lot, and I still think that people who earn a healthy amount of money, should spend it on good ingredients for their food , first of all, because I think food should be one of people’s main priorities, it’s what fuels your body (but of course you’re welcome to disagree), but also to keep medium sized companies alive, that struggle to produce food for as little as retailers demand. I appreciate that the super cheap basics food in supermarkets is important for people who are struggling, I just think anyone who can afford to, would be better off spending money on good quality food. I’ve written about that here and here.
This post got a lot longer than I planned. If you read it all, thank you for taking the time, I’d love to hear your opinions on this (and I’m respectful of all opinions, as long as they’re not really hateful).