$1 a day

Chef/Activist Jamie Oliver was interviewed on The Evan and Carole Show, CBC News: Sunday. Whether you love him or hate him the man loves food and is passionate about food and health issues.

He has used his celebrity to shine the light on childhood obesity in Great Britain and the connection to the crap food served in the schools (which was not unlike what the parents were serving at home). I watched this series, Jamie’s School Dinners, and was shocked by the ability of the kids to identify flashcards of fast food chain logos but not broccoli or carrots.

One of the issues discussed (in the school and with the parents) was the lack of time and money (and knowledge). Jamie’s fear is that the global economic crisis will drive people to “inexpensive” fast food with negligible nutritional value, thereby exacerbating the obesity problem.

I read an article in The New York Times online discussing what it really costs to eat healthy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/health/nutrition/04well.html

Junk food tends to be the go-to since it is deceptively inexpensive and is often the only option for people who do not know how to cook or work two jobs and may not have the time to cook- or both. They highlight a couple in California who challenged themselves to eating on $1 a day.

I wondered about the parameters of their experiment before I went to their blog. Are they starting off with $1 dollar a day or will they be pricing the items they use as they go along and limit themselves to $1 dollar a day. These are two different propositions.

I have not had a chance to go through the blog in depth (http://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com) but zoned in on the Food Cost Index. I was involved with a vegan cafe that operated on a co-op structure. Complete nutrition and inclusivity were main issues but affordability was also one of our primary mandates. Buying in bulk and costing on a per cup basis was something we had to be very aware of but this is often not feasible for people on very low incomes. How many people living on middle class incomes (never mind people living on the poverty line or lower) would be able to afford to buy the bulk items in the quantities needed to get themselves set up and on the right path to frugal and nutritious eating? One can set up an informal co-op and split the costs with a small group of like-minded people but we’ll chat about this another time.

The argument is that this experiment is something only people who don’t have to can indulge in but I think their attempt to educate themselves and highlight the kinds of issues that people on very limited incomes face every day is important.

These are the kinds of issues that crop up when people talk about the cost of living…when we dissect what it really means for a family to survive at the poverty level. Usually you have silly politicians stepping in and making inappropriate comments about what people should eat that sets off a firestorm and becomes the hot issue for about a week and then disappears until the next food drive push.

Will it be any different this time given the scope of the economic crisis and the increasing comparisons with the Great Depression?

I don’t know but I am glad that I know how to cook.

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~ by angryegg on November 16, 2008.

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