Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Everywhere I go these days, people seem to be whinging about the credit crunch and the soaring food prices. Some are insisting that they can barely afford to eat, while another has said that his child can’t have his 5-a-day because they just can’t afford so much fruit and veg. Yet another is saying that eggs from caged birds are the only affordable ones and then there’s the one who insists that everything should be served with potatoes and carrots because they’re the only veg that are still relatively affordable.
Well I don’t know about everybody else but I’m on a low income - lower than some of those who are doing the whinging - and yet I manage to give my daughter her 5-a-day and never ever buy anything other than free-range eggs. We eat good, balanced meals that include a good variety of vegetables, usually as an accompaniment to meat although we do eat veggie meals too, and occasionally I'll even get to have fish (LM isn’t keen on seafood, unfortunately). The fruit bowl is always full and there are plenty of healthy snacks to be had. How comes then, that I can do it but the whingers can’t? Maybe I have a money tree growing in my back garden that I'm not telling anybody about? Or perhaps I have a magic purse that just keeps putting the tenners back in whenever I take them out? Nah... no such luck. I'm just thrifty and mindful of what I buy, that's all.
For me, the answer lies in priorities. My main priorities are shelter, food and adequate clothing. Everything else comes after that with entertainment being furthest down the list. Yes, I do like a tipple now and then and a visit to the theatre or the cinema are things I love doing but I won't do them at the expense of what we eat. The second point is, that because I prioritise food, I’m mindful of what I buy and how much I need. I hate food waste and try to use up as much as I can. Sure, some of it ends up in the bin but very little - most of what doesn’t get eaten by me, LM or my guests is either fed to the worms or one of the four-legged furries.
Apparently, each of us throw away an average of £420 worth of food each year. Imagine chucking four hundred pound coins in a bin bag, tying it up and then throwing it on the landfill to slowly rot away. You just wouldn't do it, would you? Together we're chucking away 10 billion pounds here in the UK alone! 6.7 tonnes of food, all going to the landfill! If that isn’t sickening in a world where people are still starving, then what is? Where are our consciences when we’re allowing this to happen?
What really riles me is that most of those who are complaining about the rising cost of food fill their shopping trollies with frozen microwave meals, ready made sauces and lord knows what other rubbish. Food that’s full of salt, sugar and hydrogenated fat. They’re happy to buy a couple of take-aways every week and then say fruit and veg is too expensive! Or that it costs too much to cook from scratch!
Exactly where they get that idea from is anybody’s guess. I’ve recently been keeping a running tally of the cost of each meal I make and most have cost far less than a shop-bought ready-made version. The few that have cost more have been far superior, with a greater variety of healthy ingredients. And even the food that isn’t particularly healthy, like meat pie, tastes a whole lot better than the cheap versions from Asda and the likes.
Cooking from scratch is also far more satisfying. I love experimenting with flavours and trying new veggies, spices, meats, herbs and whatever else I can lay my hands on. And having put real work into preparing a meal as opposed to warming it up makes it far more rewarding to eat; I feel far more grateful for my food that way. And time doesn’t have to be a factor - there are lots of meals that can be put together and cooked in under half an hour and with everybody having a freezer these days, batch cooking makes things even easier for those who are pressed for time and slow cookers are great for preparing a meal that's ready when you get home, although I'd imagine getting everything ready in the morning can be a bit of a bind.
I can only guess that most of those who are moaning just can’t be bothered to cook properly for themselves. “I don’t like cooking” really isn’t a good enough excuse either when children are going without a decent, balanced meal.
Vesta have a lot to answer for. It was their frozen curries that started this whole "fast meals" thing.