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Derailed by Food Poverty


For dinner last night we had a delicious risotto flavoured with green peppers, bacon and (added just before I took it off the heat to rest) fresh peas from our garden. I am not sure what it cost; with all the trimmings and details probably the best part of a fiver (although as well as dinner for two, it will also provide us with the main part of today’s packed lunch and dinner as well). Fortunately, within reason, we don’t have to watch our food budget too closely.

While eating we decided to have a glance at what was on the iPlayer service and came across The Great British Budget Menu (available for most of the rest of July). Our church is involved in a Community Emergency Foodbank scheme so we are aware that “food poverty” is a growing issue even in our wealthy nation; I found the programme very moving and all the more so as I wouldn’t have expected all the people featured to be struggling with this basic issue. Obviously a TV show doesn’t answer all the questions and is programmed to fit a particular narrative arc but, combined with the knowledge of what is happening on the local scene, I found it very moving.

It certainly derailed what I had been planning for my housegroup later in the evening. Instead we watched the programme together. I will doubtless be thinking about what I spend on food as I prepare meals over the next few days. I think I probably have the knowledge to make a budget stretch quite a long way although it depends on how you measure the cost of “free” ingredients like peas from the garden (about 1.5 kg so far this year from a few seeds left over from a packet I bought in 2011 but also the infrastructure and time involved in rearing them). Hopefully there will be more efforts across our society to tackle food poverty, not least to help people learn how to make tasty, nutritious meals on a tight budget and relearn that, on a global scale, we are still among the food wealthy.

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