Blog Action Day 2008

15 10 2008

Today, on Blog Action Day, bloggers the world over will band together to discuss poverty. I could speak about monetary poverty, the poverty of things; but, inspired by the delicious prose poetry of African Alchemy, I want to talk about the poverty of food, here, today in the United Kingdom.

We are all horrified and upset when we see children or adults misused, abused, terrorised. There are, however, quieter forms of violence and neglect. One of the worst in my view is the neglect that comes when we do not feed our young – or ourselves- either properly or well.

If we don’t allow ourselves to eat properly, our bodies rebel, we feel unwell, and our concentration and tempers suffer. We say we can’t afford decent food. Is this really the case?

I’ll recount here a couple of vignettes from the local scene here in the Welsh borders.

There’s a sprightly looking lad of about 7 who I see every morning while going to work; I can see him pedalling his bicycle. What tugs at my heart is that he’s about three stone too heavy. He spills over his bike, he’s puffing, sweaty and red on a flat, half-mile cycle to school, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets bullied and picked on by his classmates. Already, at 7, segregated, different, odd. What sort of a start to have in life, a life that’s already difficult enough?

There’s a child at my son’s nursery who has crisps and sweets for her breakfast. Given her by her parents. She’s pale, unhealthy looking and her teeth are in a state. She’s four.

There was an article in the press yesterday which said that four out of ten young adults in Britain today cannot cook a potato. Can’t bung a spud in the microwave and add butter and cheese and a side salad for a healthy filling meal.

With the credit crunch, spiralling inflation and the increase in bills and the cost of living, the first principles should be coming back into play. Instead, people are simply buying cheaper (and therefore less well-made, less nutritious) ready meals. We’re all a little poorer, all feeling the pinch. We should remember that food isn’t simply fuel. It’s love, it’s care, it’s family time, it’s warmth and regard and respect.

The Potato Marketing Board reminded shoppers yesterday of the value of the humble spud. Cheap, versatile, fat-free, nutritious, calorific. Grown here, in the UK. And what of all the other native vegetables we overlook in favour of that Asda Madras (made who knows where, and with what)?. Leeks. Carrots. Onions. Caulis. The list is endless. And so is the list of healthy, nutritious, warming, solid and cheap meals you can get out of them.

As the world gets crueller and people care less and less, I’m going to be remembering my family needs feeding; and feeding as well as my thin purse can manage, with local and wonderful produce, cooked with a good heart. Just one of the ways I can tell my family that I love them.




13 responses

15 10 2008

I couldn’t agree with you more! There are so many kinds of poverty and your little lad who cycles and the pasty four-year old are experiencing real poverty. As you rightly say, food can be cheap, local and simple.

15 10 2008
The Green Witch

Thank you so much for putting me onto the Blog Action Day, Tess. I’ll keep it in my mind for next year too!

16 10 2008

When I was growing up we had very little. I remember many an evening where I would literally crawl into the back of the bottom cupboards looking for something to eat. Usually I just found dust and had to settle for toast again for dinner. And it was cheap bread with cheap margarine. I begged my mum for fruit once, but was told it was too expensive. When I went to friends’ houses I was stunned at how the mothers would actually deck the table for breakfast and there was toast, cereal AND fruit juice … felt like Christmas to me.
At one point my best mate F. offered to buy some groceries for me, but I knew that my mum would have been mortified if she had known I was talking about the situation at home, so I had to say no thank you.
But it is more complicated than just money … through all the tight times my mother still always found money for cigarettes …
Nowadays I get a great sense of security from seeing a full cupboard, and this is also why the love you, TGW, invested in cooking me a meal really hit the heart-spot in me. Crikey. I feel quite upset writing this 😦 … you cared enough to make me a beautiful meal … I have never taken such an expression of love for granted. Decent, good, honest food made with love is surely one of the greatest riches one person can give to another.
But a hungry child never forgets the poverty of belly and spirit once they have experienced it …

16 10 2008
The poverty of belly and soul « Seshat’s Voice

[…] 16, 2008 by starofseshat This morning I was commenting on The Green Witch’s blog. She had written about poverty, and the poor diet that some children are subjected to. I found […]

16 10 2008
The Green Witch

S, my love, that’s a dreadful story. It wasn’t easy lines for us either when young, but there was always, always enough to eat. Not one thing more – if you ate something wihtout asking it would turn out to have been part of a meal planned when the shopping was done.

I remember my parents taking rabbits from the local farmers, and freezing vegetables and fruit in season, and making a little go an extremely long way, particularly as regards roasted chickens – a small one would do for 6 round our way. Seconds were a race to the tape – I still eat like I’m running 100 metres today, and this is why.

I cannot imagine the insecurity, fear, sorry and pain that hunger caused you; and the un-understandingness regarding the cigarettes – god, that’s terrible. This happens today all over the country. The parents get Sky, fags and booze, and the kids get toast and rubbish again.

I, like you, feel truly secure when there’s a full cupboard of food in the house.

I love to cook, and to share my time, inventiveness, and to give something like food. It’s transitory, and needs replacing often, but it really is a kind of magic. I should like to cook for you more – I feel it’s not just food I’m giving, and I’m glad.

16 10 2008

It’s how things were. Sometimes life just really sucks (spot the burdgeoning Americanisms in my speech … I swear I will be saying ‘howdy’ very soon 😉 ) C’est la vie.
You do give me more than just the food, which is why I sigh with such pleasure from the heart when I take a mouthful.
Like I’ve said over on my blog – sometimes we need to remember the past to cut OURSELVES some slack. Me included. You included.
Love you

16 10 2008
The Green Witch

Cut ourselves some slack. I want this on my tombstone, in Latin!!

16 10 2008

Love the idea of the tombstone saying!
I read an interesting post at Casaubon’s Book today, which I think adds to what you say. Here it is:

17 10 2008
The Green Witch

Thank you so much for that, Tess! I shall take the opportunity to read that at my leisure on my return from Seshat’s this evening…

18 10 2008
Dangerously Complacent « Pagan Dawn

[…] posts–all put up in the last day or so–on food security and poverty.  The Green Witch ( ) wrote about the nutritional poverty that exists in the U.K. (but she could just as well have […]

18 10 2008


Just to let you know that I’ve tagged you on my blog! Please pop over and have a look, and if you can, can you follow through on the tag please?

Thanks! Andy

18 10 2008

I have now tagged you too 🙂 See my blog Six Random Things About Me 🙂

18 10 2008
The Green Witch

Argh! YaBugger! 😛

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