Advice to poor people about food

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Well meaning advice to poor people about food is often annoying like advice about other things.

Stale breadEdit

Poor people should make the most of stale bread, well really?

When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored and miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit ‘tasty’. George Orwell [1]

Slow cookingEdit

Of course poor people can always cook cheap food slowly, some cheap cuts are really flavoursome after 5 hours slow cooking. A university Website also has advice about how to cook Peas beans lentils slowly (for 2 hours with some recipes) to get a nutritious meal that's a bit basic. [2] Better off people blame poor people for refusing to follow their cookery suggestions. Those well off people just don't know what they're talking about.

Should poor people really risk getting their gas or electricity cut off when they can't pay their fuel bills? [3] After cooking cheap food slowly for 5 hours at a time or even for 2 hours at a time that could too easily happen.

Mediterranean cookingEdit

In Nations round the Mediterranean crops like Aubergines, Bell peppers, Corn on the Cob, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Oranges, Tomatoes can be grown in open fields though those same crops in the UK need to be grown under glass or imported. Therefore poor people living round the Mediterranean traditionally had a wider range of cheap healthy fruit and vegetables that they could afford to eat. One Television chef said:

I meet people who say, “You don't understand what it's like.” I just want to hug them and teleport them to the Sicilian street cleaner who has 25 mussels, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a packet of spaghetti for 60 pence, and knocks out the most amazing pasta. You go to Italy or Spain and they eat well on not much money. We've missed out on that in Britain, somehow. [4][5]
That chef doesn't understand what it's like. I just wish we could teleport him between Mediterranean markets and British supermarkets so he could compare prices. Perhaps after that he'd get a bit more realistic. [4] [6]

Jack Monroe (A Girl Called Jack) has herself been desperately poor and struggled even to feed herself and her young son though she lived in a Rich nation, the UK. Jack told us just how wrong was that Rich chef was. The chef’s silly remarks:

support damaging myths that poor people are only poor because they spend their money on the wrong things, rather than being constrained by time, equipment, knowledge or practicalities”. (…) When I was living on £10 a week for food, because of mistakes with (housing benefit) payments, I didn’t need a hug. I needed a fiver, just to have a little bit more to eat. I didn’t need to be teleported to Sicily to see how the street cleaners ate, I needed someone to point out that the 21p can of kidney beans could be the staple ingredient in a nutritious meal. I needed practical advice about what to do with the tins of food given to me by the food bank[7] [8]

Another poor person commented:

When did you last talk to a poor person? Someone like me who has done it day in day out for 13 years and never had more than £20 a week for groceries in their adult life? Or someone totally unlike me who doesn’t know how to cook or where to start? Or the person who can’t afford heat, light, council tax, bedroom tax and hot food without juggling so hard they’re exhausted? I suggest you need to start talking to us again [Television chef], and this time instead of allowing us to be pithy parables of modern British life in your TV shows, you need to start listening. [9]
Has he ever checked prices in UK shops or does he get servants to buy everything for him? Incidentally prices are rising today so ordinary Italians often can't afford the types of food that peasants used to eat. Larger numbers of Spanish people are forced to use Food banks than UK people. If the UK really becomes more like Italy or Spain that will be a change for the worse. [10]

Cheap cafes or dinersEdit

Even cheap eating places are far more expensive than home cooked food and also food there is often greasy and unhealthy. Food with high fat content stops the person who eats it feeling hungry for a long time so a poor person who bought food like Chips doesn't have to pay out for yet more at cafe prices soon. If a poor person has to stay away from home a long time for whatever reason and can only eat at cheap eating places not getting hungry again matters.

Poor people also sometimes eat at cheap cafes or diners near where they live although they could go home and cook for themselves. The food in cheap eating places is nowhere near as good as what television chefs produce. Still eating in a cafe gives poor people a chance to get out of whatever dingy place they live in and meet people. That can can at least for some time help avoid depression. Is it surprising many poor people are tempted?


  1. Don’t blame the poor
  2. Cooking Dried Beans, Peas and Lentils
  3. Can my fuel supplier disconnect me?
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stop Trying to Teach Poor People How to Eat
  5. Let them eat stale bread
  6. One Mangetout at a Time
  7. Jack versus Jamie: who came out cheapest in the great austerity cook-off challenge?
  8. Television Chef? He has no right to tell us how to spend our money
  9. Dear Television Chef
  10. Poverty isn't picturesque by the Mediterranean either

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