Rising UK food prices mean poor families need the know-how to be able to feed themselves adequately on a tight budget
Although I was born in the West Indies, I was brought up on the back-to-back streets of Bradford in the 1950s and consider myself a Yorkshire lass. We were the only black family but we firmly belonged to our street and our community.
I can remember being hungry as a child – "breakfast" didn't mean much to me. But at infant school we would have our morning milk. You knew when it was "milk time" because you could hear the crate rattling with its load of tiny bottles. It would be so creamy, you could see the top layer of yellow above the milky white. We'd push our straws through the silver caps and suck.
Once I was so hungry that I stole a little girl's biscuits. She went crying to my teacher, who looked at me and said: "No, Bernadine would never do a thing like that!" I never stole any more biscuits after that and managed to maintain my good reputation. We weren't the poorest family on our street – there was a family up the row whose kids sometimes ran around barefoot. I'd stare in horror as they gleefully ate Mother's Pride bread filled with white sugar. Even then I had a concept of "junk food".
At home, my parents would be in the tiny kitchen above the coal cellar, fashioning out concoctions of flour, chopped onions, bits of fish, anything they could get their hands on. My father would roll them out and fry them in a skillet; he called them "Johnny cakes", naming them after my little brother who would devour them wholeheartedly. And though I was often hungry, I was always certain that my belly was going to be filled at some point, even if it was only cornmeal porridge, thickened with milk and sweetened with honey. Fortunately, I never had to suffer extreme hunger.
It is quite shocking to think that today in the UK many families are experiencing hunger and have to choose between paying their bills or eating: "broadband or food". Even worse, there are families who have no choice but to go without food – according to a recent report by a Welsh charity, a family with small children went without food for more than 24 hours.
And yet, there is definitely a social stigma today in the UK about being poor. Poor people are made to feel like "scroungers" and appear to be the butt of every government cut, which seems to succeed in kicking the most vulnerable the hardest. Even the Equality and Human Rights Commission believes that the government may have acted illegally by not taking into account exactly how its cuts are going to affect the poorest members of society.
Many poor people today in the UK would be too ashamed to admit that they often have to skip meals. Sadly, things are set to get worse for them because of rising food prices due to what I refer to as the "global grain crunch". Food prices went up 0.7% last month, according to the Office for National Statistics, and are due to rise even higher. Basic ingredients such as eggs, milk, cheese, fish, lentils, rice and pulses have also been hit sharply, with an increase of up to 58% over the last three years. It is estimated that over a billion people worldwide will go hungry because of natural disasters that have destroyed vital grain crops this year. This shortage of food will have a knock-on effect globally, and means that the UK is set to experience further rises in food prices.
What does that mean for those at the very bottom in the UK? Obviously, they will find it increasingly hard to feed themselves adequately, not only because of a lack of finances, but also because of a lack of real know-how. A few grassroots organisations are trying to impart such knowledge, but their efforts remain largely unrecognised – or worse, are seen as inaccessible. Without knowledge on how to eat well on a strict budget, many will be forced to go hungry or will be overfed but undernourished. Research shows that there are direct links between poverty and obesity – those on small incomes who are both cash and time poor tend to be more obese due to their reliance on cheap, processed foods.
Food is a political issue, and an immensely serious one that connects us all. Now, more than ever, people need to know how to feed themselves on a tiny budget. At least then they will be able to fend off hunger as best they know how.
2010-09-09 21:26 编辑：kuaileyingyu
"Liberty has not subsisted outside of Christianity." Lord Acton The most liberating political force in the history of mankind has been Christianity (Jn. 8:36). Christianity branch
马列主义、毛泽东、邓小平理论、*****“三个代表”重要思想Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiao-ping Theory, Jiang Zemin “Three Represent's” important Thought新民主主义革命