A couple of years ago I blogged about a charity to challenge to live on a pound a day for food and drink. At the time I thought it was a fascinating challenge, and a worthwhile way to raise the profile of the issue of global poverty.
Now, I’m not so sure.
This article from BBC business on how to live healthily for £1 a day is part of the problem.
Did you know you can buy an egg for just 8.7p? It may not be an ethical egg, and of course you have to buy 30 to get that price.
Um. 30 * 8.7 is 2.61. You can’t buy a single egg for 8.7p – or I’ve never found any shops doing that. And the point of this is supposed to be a realistic experience of what living on £1 is like. You can’t go out and do your usual shopping and then price it up all up piece by piece. (4p for a slice of lettuce??) It’s cheaper to buy in bulk, but if you’re poor you can’t do that. Or if you do bulk buy one thing, you get to bulk eat one thing. Did the author of this BBC post really not understand any of this?
I’ve seen this kind of experience described as poverty tourism, and it’s not far off the point of what is going on. In the UK at the moment, with the drive towards austerity, there’s this theory that people in poverty are just spending their money on the wrong things. If they managed it better, they could live better. So you’ve got IDS with his throwaway comment, of course he could live on £53 a week.
Of course he could. For a week. But repeatedly? When things start to break and wear out? When your children grow out of their shoes, or wear through their clothes?
No. It’s difficult. Very difficult. And yes, if you can find work and earn more, then you can spend more. But all around the world, there are inequalities that mean all of this is very difficult to change. And I’m not convinced it’s going to be changed by a whole load of people living on a pound a day for food in this country.
But if it raises the issue for discussion? And we make real changes? That might make a difference. So for that reason I do overall still support the campaign. And if you’re looking for a way to stretch your budget? You could do worse than checking out a few blogs. Utterly scrummy does fabulous family meal plans on a tight budget. The bbc linked to A Girl called Jack, a new blog to me which I’ll be perusing.
Or you can try my budget menu for bolognese and burgers. This fed my family of six for two nights.
800g budget mince from Lidl/ Aldi (approx £2.49).
Onions (around 60/70 pence a bag).
Tin chopped tomatoes (31p)
Bread rolls for the burgers (12 for £1.10 Lidl.)
Spaghetti or pasta of choice (around 50p pack in Lidl).
An egg. (Lidl 98p for 6 free range. Aldi do 15 for 2.29).
Good sprinkling of dried herbs (49p a pot in Lidl.)
I used 500g of mince with two minced onions and an egg to bind them together. This made approx ten burgers served in bread rolls which fed our family of six very well.
The next night I put the remaining mince in with the tomatoes and passata and made it into bolognese with addition of dried herbs. Cheese to top it off is nice but optional.
Budget if I’m adding up right comes to £5.65 for two meals each feeding 6. That’s 47p a head. It’s rather low on fruit and veg, I’d suggest adding some of that in – I did chuck in a bag of salad from Lidl at £1 to go with the burgers.
I hope you’ve found that helpful. Do you think this kind of campaign is helpful, or could it cause more problems than it solves?