When Save the Children launched its first UK only campaign to highlight the extreme levels of poverty existing on our doorsteps, I'm sure I wasn't the only one shocked into a confused silence. Usually it's the all-encompassing reports of those struggling within the developing world that leaves us feeling so passive. We quietly set up direct debits and leave it there. We feel so overwhelmed, that we hope that someone, (a grown up? the UN?) will do something about it. So when it was demanded of us to look closer to home and admit that crushing poverty was all around us, it seemed too much to comprehend, like it wasn't real.
On top of this ugly reality, we then hear reports that the rainy summer we've stoically got through wasn't just a mild annoyance but will affect the stock pile of wheat and the cost of our food bringing a, admittedly gossamer thin, similarity between us and those in food poverty around the world.
On the flip side to all this is the much reported swell of the Nigella's and Nigel's cooking up culinary delights and the pop ups and posh junk littering the landscape of city restaurants. We know that the rising cost of food won't hit everyone in the same way. So why hasn't this obvious national interest in cookery smashed through any food barriers and created a healthier nation who makes the right food, budgets withstanding?
It may appear obvious, but those from lower incomes will continue to find the cheapest sources of calories they can. I know that people like to think that a diet of fruit and veg is cheaper than Iceland fodder but let's be honest, if you know what a morel mushroom is and you'd happily spend £7 on lunch, can you really claim to understand?
Yes, fruit and veg are cheap, but fruit and veg are cheap comparatively. They're cheaper than a decent Sauvignon Blanc, steak and aged smelly cheese and a hell of a lot cheaper than a Pret lunch. However the disconnect between what is cheap and what is "cheap" is still very fuzzy.
It's important then to realise that the advice given to those hoping to cut the cost of their food bill generally (but not always) comes from a place where having to weigh up whether you'd buy a bushel of pears or a bag of frozen chip is a non-starter.
Like all parents, the health of my family is paramount. So when some mums spend their money on buying the cheapest but most filling food, even if it isn't healthiest, I think it's wrong for others to espouse about the wonders of the local market because as Mary Portas knows our high streets are dying and such delights are not a given for all.
We speak to mums every day at MyFamilyClub.co.uk who are trying to juggle all the many pressures of raising a family within an extremely tight budget. Not dissimilar to most I know, but it is crucial that as our food eventually becomes more re expensive, and it will, we make sure that we give the right information and support to those who'll no doubt weather the storm the hardest.
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