Have you ever shoplifted food because you couldn’t afford to buy it?
Not because you were drunk and it seemed a giggle, or because you stole sweets from the corner shop when you were eleven years old to impress your friends, or because you were trying to fund a smack habit or because you went through a phase of life where stealing seemed like good entertainment.
Have you ever found yourself in the situation where the only remaining feasible option to stave off hunger remaining open to you, is taking food without paying for it, from a business?
That is the question that Matthew Thomson put to a room of ~150 academics, charity and food workers, many of whom have, or will be, studying food poverty.
The answer was 4 or 5.
The discussion was on ‘lived experience’ and ‘experts by experience’, which are the catchy academic monikers given to…
Heretic. Who would dare say such a thing? Certainly not a ‘foodie’, that’s for sure.
Eating is the foundation of life on earth, across continents and through species, but cooking is the technique that homo-sapiens has adopted for it’s unique spin on this primeval process. No other living creature cooks what they eat, it’s unique to us, the humans.
If I had a pound for every time someone told me cooking skills will solve virtually all problems with the food world, I’d be an extremely wealthy man. It’s oft repeated, quoted rote in the face of any question about making the world healthy again. It is, of course, a marvellous skill, perhaps one that I take for granted, because I’ve done a lot of it.
From my young days spent licking cake mix off a spoon in my mum’s kitchen, through being occasionally dumped in a hotel kitchen to…
I’m back in the world of the living, after two days solid of listening to, and talking about some incredible work at the first UK conference on food and poverty. The over-riding theme was food banks, there were research projects on food banks, lived experiences of food banks, food bank observations, food bank quantitative data, food bank volunteers and food bank organisers, it was a veritable orgy of food bank evidence.
On the last day, in her summing up, Rachel Loopstra reminded the audience that food poverty extends beyond food banks, in fact, food banks represent a thin slice of food poverty, yet they receive the most attention. We’d do well to make sure our academic lenses are trained more keenly on food poverty as a whole, rather than this singular, albeit high profile, avenue of emergency food aid.
Perhaps it’s the tendency for humans to assign pigeon-holes…
Last night I watched two wise, reasoned and educated people talk excitedly about food. Joanna Blythman and Polly Russell explored personal food history, modern industrialised food, poverty, home cooking and much more besides. An immutable fact of those who study food is the ability to talk with ceaseless enthusiasm, I’m sure we could have stayed all night as we dived into the rabbit hole of the food world’s ills.
The analogy of the rabbit hole from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is spectacularly apt for discussions about food. Food debates are characterised by fractious, diverse discourse about situations which gradually become ever more complicated as the surface dust is gently brushed off, revealing the complex, labyrinthine puzzle below.
At a basic level, solutions to food problems appear simple, because it’s very easy to see where an individual’s behaviour around food may be causing problems. Too much fried chicken, not enough…
Deciphering what food is acceptable to eat is incredibly confusing and frequently exposes the internal contradictions of the human condition.
Dr Tara Garnett recently highlighted my personal conflicts when talking about the effect of food on climate change. The evidence surrounding eating too much meat poured through the air as heads nodded sagely, while virtuous “eat less meat” campaigns formulated in the quasi-vegetarian minds around the room. Then came the shocker, her evidence also suggests we should drink less coffee and tea, and eat less chocolate.
Well screw that. Contemplating quitting coffee and chocolate gave me a glimpse into the world of an NRA member when asked to...