Fancy that!

Laura Sandys, the chair of the Food Foundation thinktank and a former Conservative MP, said food insecurity had long-term health and social consequences. “We know that food insecurity can trigger a range of unhealthy eating habits and force people to buy cheaper, less nutritious and more calorific food.”

What? Poorer people buy stodge?

39 thoughts on “Fancy that!”

  1. “less nutritious and more calorific food.”

    Er… I thought point of eating was to get the calories. Have I been doing it wrong all these years?

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    There was another pointless scare recently that said people were not getting enough iodine and so losing 30 IQ points.

    Which may well explain the Labour Party’s voting base.

    Can I say how much I love a country where one of the main problems for the poor is that they are forced to eat too much cheap food? Lacking it seems in trace elements. Unlike much of the rest of the world where people eat too little very relatively expensive food. Which is full of trace elements. Like aluminium. Comes with the dirt.

  3. ‘a third of poorest households skip meals’

    So what? A a third of richest households skip meals, too.

    ‘according to a survey that highlights the extent to which austerity and rising food prices are driving “hidden hunger”.’

    A survey intended to show austerity and rising food prices are driving “hidden hunger” shows austerity and rising food prices are driving “hidden hunger.”


    ‘Food insecurity is defined as going hungry, being at risk of going hungry, or being worried about going hungry because of a shortage of money.’

    So why not call is ‘a shortage of money?’

    Marketing. Not getting much traction with “struggling poor” anymore?

    ‘Summary of the Food Insecurity Bill 2017-19
    A Bill to require the Government to monitor and report on food insecurity; to make provision for official statistics on food insecurity; and for connected purposes’

    Big Brother, where art thou?

  4. So what? A a third of richest households skip meals, too.

    I’ve yet to meet a professional working woman who eats breakfast outside weekends. In France, they have a coffee and a cigarette. The men aren’t much better.

  5. How do some apparently poor people manage to appear obese too?

    Is it not the case that the relative amount of money needed in order to eat decently is lower now than ever?

  6. @TimN
    “I’ve yet to meet a professional working woman who eats breakfast outside weekends. In France, they have a coffee and a cigarette. The men aren’t much better.”

    I call that the continental breakfast.

    God, I miss smoking.

  7. You won’t find cheaper food than fresh vegetables. They just require preparation and cooking, which is bad news for lazy slobs.

    The lie that fast food is cheaper than buying fresh and cooking it just cannot be killed. It is repeated by the bleating sheep 24×7.

  8. ‘Unemployed people were most at risk’

    Well, for God’s sake, let’s create more incentives for people to be unemployed!

  9. Hmmm….just about the two cheapest but most nutritional things you can buy are milk (supermarket loss leader) and rolled oats (just very cheap anyway). For £5 a week you can have more porridge every day than you could ever really want.
    I’m not poor at all but I eat a lot of porridge – and only because I really like porridge. Food poverty and obesity are life choices.

  10. @Patrick – throw in some seasonal hedgerow fruit (blackberries being my favorite) for free and it’s even better! (well, i think it is!)

  11. The point of ‘stodge’ (high in carbohydrates, therefore high in calories) is and always was a cheap means of avoiding starvation for those who could not afford or find a more expensive or varied diet…. such as our ancestors.

    Which is why ‘stodge’ is the traditional basis of diet in all societies: pasta; rice; bread; potato; oat/maize porridge.

    Meat, fish, other veg were garnish and rare. It is only as societies got richer that meat, fish, veg became the main event and ‘stodge’ became the garnish.

    We are all here after 200 000 years because of/despite eating an ‘unhealthy’ diet of ‘stodge’.

    @Rob: fresh vegetables contain little nourishment being low in calories, protein and fats. This is why herbivores spend 80% of their time putting it in one end and emitting it from the other, and ‘health’ food shops are stocked with food supplements.

  12. BiC: When I moved to a new GP practice and has a new-registration health-check it was brambling season so my food diary was uncharactericticlly heavy with fresh fruit.

    Rob: and with microwave ovens you don’t even need skill to cook cheap fresh food. My gas cooker spends most of its time being a metal cupboard nowadays. When I haven’t been working and eating junk food up and down the M1 I’ve often got my food bill down to less than a fiver a week just through sheer lazyness.

  13. John B
    You’re comment is entirely true – but only from the period of the last Ice Age onwards (since agriculture started basically). In the previous few hundred thousand years humans ate a paleo diet. No stodge. I’m not sure 10,000 years is enough to evolve sufficiently to deal with stodge.

  14. Laura Sandys probably means that bread and potatoes have less protein and vitamins than one of those fancy fish-and-fruit starters, followed by steak, carrots and peas, but no-one, *no-one* is forced to buy anything.
    Interesting definition “food security is defined as being hungry or …”!! Unless my wife summons me to a meal she’s prepared, my definition of meal-time is sometime after I get hungry.

  15. I wonder if the American experiment of lowering corporate taxes with the resultant bonuses and pay increases for low wage workers would find favour with the Guardian?

    With a $3/hr pay rise and a $1,000.00 bonus the low wage folk could buy a lot of fresh veggies, and surely will in the USA.

    Ha, ha, ha, Jeez I’m funny this morning.

  16. Rob writes: “You won’t find cheaper food than fresh vegetables. They just require preparation and cooking.” Well, that is a cost (including the need to return home to do it). Sometimes, one big bag of Doritos will do me for an entire day. Food insecurity? a galloping government trying hard to invent new problems to solve.

  17. @Rob – i did the background research for doing a US food stamp challenge at Swiss prices. One thing that wasn’t going to feature was fresh vegetables – too expensive. A kg bag of frozen peas and carrots, and several tins of tomatoes, were going to be the veg for the week.

    But in extremis you can feed yourself oatmeal for breakfast and two meals of pasta in home-made tomato sauce for next to nothing, even at Swiss prices. 0.37 breakfast (putting milk and jam in the oatmeal and having a cup of tea, 475kcal), and 0.42 for lunch and dinner (775kcal each, including 20ml oil in with the pasta). So a franc 21 a day for 2025 kcal. Change from a quid at today’s exchange rate. At UK prices, the pasta could have mince in it too and not cost much more.

    It’s clear that nobody can possibly be going hungry in the UK purely for financial reasons – idiocy, sloth, poor spending choices perhaps, but not lack of money.

  18. @Bernie G
    It *is* open season on pensioners by all the lefties because we are “protected” (albeit only from inflation) by Cameron.

  19. @ Abacab
    My knowledge of Switzerland is based on two short holidays more than half-a-century apart but I get the impression that most of your wonderful farmers graze sheep and cattle but grow few vegetables on mountain pastures whereas in England peasants and allotment-holders grow lots of vegetables. So the situation in high-income, high labour-cost, Switzerland may not be fully comparable with England.

  20. “a paleo diet. No stodge.” I expect there was stodge from the roots and tubers they ate. But nobody really knows much about their diet, so I’m guessing just like everyone else.

    “I’m not sure 10,000 years is enough to evolve sufficiently to deal with stodge.” It probably is: the huge population explosion is bound to have led to rapid evolution. (See the Cochrane and Harpending book.) One case is clear – the rise of lactose tolerance – and happened some time after the invention of agriculture. If evolution can lead to adults being able to drink milk then it could plausibly lead to their dealing with stodge.

  21. @John77 – there’s rather more to CH than just mountain pastures… The whole middle bit is rather flat and is high-intensity arable farmed up the wazoo. But in any case, a lot of fresh fruit and veg is imported.

  22. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I eat expensive, imported stuff and make very little effort to economise on ingredients. But even tonight’s dinner (tagliatelle with prosciutto and orange sauce) is going to run about £3.50 a head. I’m time-poor and cash-rich (at least, relatively) so this makes sense. If I had more leisure and less money I could eat, boringly, for £3 a day.

  23. I looked in a student paper of an attempt to live on £1 per day for food, and after a bit of work decided that it wasn’t possible, but it was possible on £1.50 if you pooled the problem with several chums, and dead easy on £2, The £1 a day singleton moaned it was one meal and no parmesan on his pasta, whereas my £1.50 is 3 meals a day – OK, something like the porridge breakfast, zero waste, portion control between the chums (and no cheating), etc. and very few luxuries. Plus, you may find yourself eating odd things. Last week I bought enough lamb’s liver to feed 4 people for £1.50 in Waitrose, of all places, hardly a cheap outlet, and combined with an onion and some mashed spuds with a teaspoon of gravy browning creates a meal you could pay £20 for in the right restaurant.
    The critical thing is balance and variety in order to meet full nutritional needs and ward off hunger. Even more to the point, you can enhance flavour with salt, sugar, chilli flakes, pepper and/or a garlic clove without running foul of the salt/sugar police if you use fresh ingredients.

    You also need to put work in on the preparation, but then if you are poor, your time isn’t worth much, and if you are unemployed, you have a lot of it spare!

  24. @ abacab
    I acknowledge (actually acknowledged) my ignorance of CH, but if you are importers of fruit and veg then the price you pay for carrots and peas is going to be much higher than mine since the addition to the farm price is, for me, going to be loading, short journey, unloading, market stall; for you it will be loading, long journey, checking for customs, reloading, long journey, unloading, supermarket, with property costs for the latter.

  25. Abacab writes: “i did the background research for doing a US food stamp challenge at Swiss prices….It’s clear that nobody can possibly be going hungry in the UK purely for financial reasons.”

    Brits are now on US food stamps too?!

  26. @SMFS

    Vegans & vegetarians covered in R4 1100 Iodine prog. Most are severely deficient and prone to goiter.

    Pregnant can result in child being a Cretin – taking iodine when pregnancy discovered is too late as damage to mother & child occurs in weeks 4-6.

    Warning also given: organic milk has ~50% less iodine; soy, almond, coconut et al fad “milks” contain none.

  27. @Excavator man, January 30, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    £1 a day £7 per week for food is easy in UK.

    2.5kg potatoes £1.25
    1kg carrots 45p
    1kg rice 45p
    1kg pasta 40p
    800g Bread 40p
    Total £2.95

    That leaves £4.05 for add to above

  28. George Orwell was there first, noting in “The Road to Wigan Pier” that people criticised the dole being spent on unhealthy stodge. But, he went on, if you want to feel filled, a bag of chips is preferable to a bag of oranges.

  29. We go to Lidl every week, in fact we are waiting outside for them to open at 8pm. Fellow shoppers at that time are mainly other pensioners. Thrifty, keen to pick up bargains, and always ready for ingredients for home cooking and baking.Thirty percent discount commonplace on things like meat and fish that’s approaching the best before date, and all you have to do is get it into your freezer.
    It isn’t poverty that’s causing poor nutrition, it is bone idleness.

  30. I had a friend in college who took a bet that he could live on one dollar for a week. Albeit a 1970 dollar. He bought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter, and never went hungry.

    Don’t remember how much he won. Must have been pretty good to justify that self torture.

  31. Switzerland from the Zurich-Geneve train appears to be small fields of corn and vineyards. Sweetcorn is quite versatile as feed, and presumably wine production is a higher value use of land than beans and sprouts.
    I’m also assuming you pay VAT on food in CH, none of the complexities of zero rating food in the UK.

  32. “We know that food insecurity can trigger a range of unhealthy eating habits and force people to buy cheaper, less nutritious and more calorific food.”

    From my experience its food insecurity *remedied with government ‘largess’* that leads to people *choosing* more expensive, less nutritious, and more calorific food.

    At the local convenience store its the people who toss 5 bags of chips, a half dozen different types of candy, and a bunch of single cans of soda that are going to pay it with foodstamps – the two 25 oz cans of Natural Light will be paid separately in cash.

    This despite there being a full-service grocery store less than a half-mile away from it with prices generally 10-20% lower than the convenience store.

  33. Food Insecurity is when you are the chair of the Food Foundation, and you HAVE TO convince people of your relevance, else you go hungry!

  34. @Monty, January 30, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    Re: Use By/Best Before discounts

    Two supermarkets near me, 1 is 5 min walk, frequently have 90% and 95% discount on some after 5pm.

    Today popped in on way home as needed milk, cereal & bread, also purchased:
    5 x Feta £1.60 reduced to £0.08
    1 each Poppy Seed Bloomer & Granary Loaf (800g) £1.00 reduced to £0.05
    1 x Chocolate Cheesecake £3.00 reduced to £0.15

    Price reductions are large due to waste disposal costs.

    As said, laziness and poor choice are significant causes – see BBC Eat Well For Less

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