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to think fresh healthy food should be subsidised?

(203 Posts)
kim147 Sun 18-Nov-12 16:50:35

www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/nov/18/breadline-britain-nutritional-recession-austerity

The amount of people getting 5 fruit and veg per day drops by 900,000

"The data show consumption of high-fat and processed foods such as instant noodles, coated chicken, meat balls, tinned pies, baked beans, pizza and fried food has grown among households with an income of less than £25,000 a year, as hard-pressed consumers increasingly choose products perceived to be cheaper and more "filling"."

There's some shocking but not surprising statistics in there about how fruit and veg has gone down. consumption of cheap processed food has gone up - no wonder health outcomes are low for poorer families.

Should certain fresh food be subsidised to ensure people can afford it? Or should people be encouraged to cook more? I think we have a nutritional timebomb.

garlicbaguette Tue 20-Nov-12 13:30:52

Fair point about the ready meals ... I was pretty keen to know where she got them! Maybe she just meant a couple of BOGOF pizzas? (Not such a bad meal with some bread & veg.)

YY, Fred. First World malnutrition is often caused by 'healthy' diets like the raw vegan diet and/or continuing 'diets' that were only promoted for short-term use.

To be fair, you can eat any old toot with adequate vitamin/mineral supplements and not be malnourished. Whether you'd actually be healthy is another matter.

FredFredGeorge Tue 20-Nov-12 13:08:56

The obsession with fruit and vegetables and "healthy living" is also pretty confused I think, there are very few people deficient in the UK in most of the major nutrients found in a strawberry (mostly Vitamin C, can be stored long term in the body and available in lots of foods) but there are many more short of Vitamin D - which isn't found in fruit and veg anyway (well alfalfa maybe but how many people are eating that?).

There are some people deficient in micro-nutrients, but the vast majority of the problems of peoples diets in the UK is one of over-consumption of macro-nutrients, simply eating too much. And the "5 a day" is really aimed at tackling that - due to the lower nutrient density of most fruit and veg, rather than a big deficiency in vitamins.

MissCellania Tue 20-Nov-12 12:55:48

and I also have two children on lactose free diets, which adds expense, but is not an excuse (especially since you'll find milk products in a lot of ready meals)

samandi Tue 20-Nov-12 12:55:38

I don't understand that article. The couple were on £75000 a year and yet they couldn't afford mortgage protection or to put away a few thousand a year as a safety net? Even I have savings and I've never earned more than £20000. Couldn't they have got a lodger in?

And now they're living with his parents and probably not paying very much rent or bills. They say they have to live there but presumably they could also rent privately.

"The fact is, I don't have a choice, not when you can buy five ready meals for £4."

You could buy more fresh veg and pulses for £4 than five ready meals worth.

Don't get me wrong, I have sympathy. I can see why they'd be "tired and fed up" in that situation, living with the parents, having lost their home etc. But it's just not accurate to say they don't have a choice whether to eat more healthy food or not.

MissCellania Tue 20-Nov-12 12:54:38

Thats rubbish. Any ready meals for that price are going to be tesco value type ones, very small, lacking in nutrients, lacking in anything. For the same price, for less even, you could a far superior dinner for 4 people, using tinned, dry and/or fresh ingredients.
I have a smaller budget, a bigger family, and I do, so I know exactly how.

garlicbaguette Tue 20-Nov-12 12:40:30

She says £400 to do the monthly shop, not "nappies and food". She would have mentioned the nappies and DF because they register as extraordinary expenses. Do you not get your laundry stuff, toilet rolls, shampoo, baby lotion, bin bags, etc in your monthly shop?

The article quotes her saying she can get five ready meals for £4. IMO she's making the right choice in that case. Ready meals aren't brilliant but, while she's right about salt and fat, UK ready meals are not made of additives (that's an American thing). A balanced meal for under £1 is a good achievement.

Yes, you can do better when you manage to get nice ingredients reduced - and you can very often do better if your larder is already well stocked - but do it week in, week out, with depleting stores, and see how clever you feel then.

I think middle-class guilt about food quality does add to the already severe stress of 'breadline' living.

fragola Tue 20-Nov-12 12:20:47

The lady in this article from the same series has £400 per month to spend on nappies and food (including dairy free milk for one child) for two adults and two four year olds, but says that she can't afford to buy decent food and that six out seven meals that they buy are processed.

I don't understand this at all, especially since she says she used to be a keen cook. I can only presume that people are so stressed with financial worries they haven't got the mental energy to think about food.

12ylnon Tue 20-Nov-12 12:01:50

talking nonesnse you can buy packs of ready mix bread for about 89p. We make up one of those, and half makes a pizza base for 4. We make a small rolls out of the other half and then DS decorates the pizza with all the left over veg in the fridge. He loves it and it's teaching him how to cook. More time consuming, yep, but not by much, i'd say it takes 5 mins to knead the bread and then another 5 to decorate the pizza.

12ylnon Tue 20-Nov-12 11:58:07

We don't have an awful lot of money at the moment, but we still manage to eat a healthy, balanced diet. We just cook everything fresh. I've done an awful lot of research into this and i've yet to find a ready meal i can't make for cheaper using fresh ingredients.

We use dried pulses instead of meat, go to the supermarket on a sunday afternoon- they have cracking deals (we once got a pack of stirfry veg, sauce and noodles for 40p and then added two eggs at home, so good and cheap for feeding 4), buy frozen veg if it's cheaper, and make a cheesy short crust pastry, cut it into shapes and bake into little cheesy biscuits, great for snacks. It really is easy, just teach yourself how to cook!

When i was a single parent, i lived in a little village with the nearest shop the next town away. I got myself one of those wheely shopping trolleys, i would strap DS to my back, and i'd jump on the bus and then walk the 20 mins to the supermarket. It was a pain and it took ages, but getting deals at the supermarket was more economical than shopping at the local corner shop, even with the price of the bus ticket.

The thing is, unless you happen to enjoy it, cooking is a chore, and like the laundry and the cleaning, it gets dull. Cooking lentil soup is not as rewarding as dishing up a cheap pizza- it takes longer, makes more washing up, and a lot of dc will appreciate the pizza more! So that's why convenient food sells more, it's just easier.

MissCellania Tue 20-Nov-12 11:19:11

Bananas were available in the UK long before the 1950's. They weren't available during ww2 but they were for a long time before that. "Yes we have no bananas" is from 1923, and the first recorded sale of bananas in the UK was in 1633. Considering the trade links with India its not surprising they exported lots of bananas over here.

garlicbaguette Tue 20-Nov-12 11:06:14

I don't believe that woman had takeaways every night. It was a TV show; they edit to make the presenter's points easily. Same with the DC not recognising veg - there are, sadly, many inner-city kids who wouldn't know a freshly-dug carrot by sight, but they know carrot on their plate, in a freezer bag, a tin, or trimmed & packed in a plastic bag. That's no worse than being ignorant of where milk comes from - ie, worrying in an educational sense but no comment on the child's nutrition.

I don't like the demonisation of the poor that invariably seeps into these threads.

RedToothbrush Tue 20-Nov-12 09:48:16

Define 'healthy food', because to be perfectly honest this idea of good food and bad food is not a particularly helpful one either. All it does it encourage weird diets and doesn't educate you about your nutrition needs in any way.

You NEED things like fat. A lot of people would argue that fat free or sugar free food more unhealthy if its full of chemicals. And occasional processed food is not unhealthy. Its just eating it ALL the time thats the problem. And too much fruit is bad for you as it has too much sugar in it.

The message has to be BALANCED diet and healthy PORTIONS rather than this crap about good and bad food. Our problem in this country is with obesity and not undernutrition as a rule.

As for cost. You can argue about bananas versus kitkats all day long and I'll just laugh. Fresh bananas being pretty much unavailable in the UK until the 1950s because of the logistics of transporting them half way around the world, without spoiling or getting damaged on the way. Fruit and veg grown closer to home in season isn't as convenient and isn't necessarily as tasty and you might get bored of having the same thing every day for a month. And there in lies your real issue; the demand for convenience, variety and taste - which is I'm afraid to say, actually a luxury not a necessity.

Like everyone else who has said it on this thread, its about education and teaching people how to make nutritious food quickly and easily from things that they wouldn't normally think of and are really cheap. Its possible, but it requires effort. And thats the biggest thing lacking.

MrsHoarder Tue 20-Nov-12 09:04:28

So all those people who have convinced us that it isn't the fault of the disadvantaged if they eat shit food (even if when I was living in a rough area the chippy got far more customers than the Aldi next door) what is your solution?

Unless you want to remove the "food" component of JSA and replace it with canteens in every postcode in the UK, what should we do? Apparently frozen fruit and veg isn't good enough, even though some of us can happily add a fistful of frozen fruit to porridge in the morning and throw peas or spinach at barely £1 a bag in with dinner at night, so what is the answer?

samandi Tue 20-Nov-12 08:45:44

There was a single mother of three kids who was desperate to feed her children properly. She lived on a large estate. Her daughter didn't recognise fruit and veg, but she could tell from the polystyrene carton whether she was getting kebabs, curry, or Chinese that night.

How on earth do people afford takeaways every night if they're poor? confused

Re the bus, that's laziness.

Bogeyface Mon 19-Nov-12 22:21:39
Bogeyface Mon 19-Nov-12 22:21:33

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2012/sep/04/is-organic-food-better-for-you-poll

Organic food is just a good way of giving your money away. Dont be so gullible!

Spockster Mon 19-Nov-12 22:20:14

BUY , not but..

Spockster Mon 19-Nov-12 22:19:38

Why on Earth but organic if you're on a budget? There really is no evidence it's healthier.

blue2 Mon 19-Nov-12 19:21:14

I've also noticed that the real bargains in supermarkets (and placed where you can see them) are often the doughnuts, 'yum-yums', biscuits etc.

Its no wonder that people buy the 'wrong' stuff when their budgets are stretched!

I used to be a Homestart volunteer and I taught several of my Mums how to cook a few cheap, nutritious meals - starting with eggy bread for the kids when they get in from school. We did big batches of mince with loads of veg in that they could go and turn into shepherds pies or bolognaise. We'd keep the receipts and work out how much per portion the meals were costing. More often than not, they were amazed at how little it costed. They'd all go into foil boxes and into the little freezer above the fridge.

TBH, Its a combination of lack of education, awareness, money and time. Crap food is also very addictive which is why people don't or can't see their way out of changing their habits.

expatinscotland Mon 19-Nov-12 18:42:11

'Jamie came in and taught the mum how to cook meatballs with tomato sauce; and pancakes. He came back a few weeks later to find she was still struggling, one of the main reasons being that to get the ingredients involved a bus trip to Tescos. She cited the time and cost factor of this. Another family he tried to help suffered from not having a cooker. This is fairly common in these places.'

I remember her. She had a lovely kitchen. She cited time and cost to get to Tesco, but buying a takeaway for 4 people was cheaper? C'mon.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Mon 19-Nov-12 18:40:23

My shop got remarkably cheaper when I stopped buying biscuits, sweets and crisps.

Popumpkin Mon 19-Nov-12 16:27:36

This is always a weird one to understand for me as our household always eats far more fresh veg when we are having a budget week confused. Fruit can be expensive but I generally shop at Aldi who have some brilliant offers on fresh produce.

For example, on a budget week I'd use less mince for a cottage pie or spaghetti bolognese and add more veg in order to make a value pack of mince do two meals. Likewise a casserole or stir fry.

In fact, if I'm on a tighter than normal budget, processed convenience foods don't seem to come into it. And as for things like McDonalds - has anyone taken a whole family there recently? It ain't cheap shock.

mrskeithrichards Mon 19-Nov-12 16:22:59

And when simply keeping a house warm and light is taking more and more out of a weekly budget it's no wonder people are feeling the squeeze.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 19-Nov-12 16:19:06

I have swapped buying any sweets/crisps etc for healthy food.
I also cook from scratch where possible and have cut down portion sizes to minimise wastage.I have started my own veggie patch.

In this way I can justify spending extra on 'good' food.My goal is to buy as much organic food as possible.We can't afford it but I see it as a priority.

I would love to see the prices of food in general come down - it's getting scary.

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