Food Poverty…

…and why we’ve gone political.

The following was inspired by yet another politician lecturing the poor on the dietary choices…and some fellow farmers jumping on that bandwagon. As farmers ourselves, we understand the desire for folk to choose our food. But they have to be able to, don’t they?

This is one of the things people who have never been poor don’t understand about food choices. When I was poor, and often transient, I couldn’t afford to have a collection like this (and this is my second tier collection, the spices I regularly use are near the stove), and I very often didn’t have a place to store it.

I remember one summer in NYC. I was homeless, and staying in a friend’s place while he was off on a summer gig. A last few cents in my pocket, and determined to eat healthy. Collard greens were cheap, and I loved collard greens. So that’s what I spent my money on – it was ALL I had money for. I went home, boiled them up ..and forced myself to eat them. Because it was the only food I’d see all day, unless I said yes to a dinner invitation by a guy who made clear what he expected for desert.

I could also tell you about working my way through college, with an early morning shift at a bakery, and no money left for food after paying rent, but with a ready supply of donuts to stop the hunger pains. So poor I had to walk 45 minutes to the job, as I didn’t have money for the bus.

Don’t EVER lecture a poor person about their food choices, if you’ve never choked down a dinner of boiled greens, with no seasoning or other ingredients added. Or been forced to take a job simply because payment included the only food you might see all day.

These days, Donald and I can grow a good amount of our food – in the ground and on the hoof – and what we can’t grow, we can afford to buy. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be hungry or homeless again. I can stretch the same bit of lamb across two dinners and a couple of lunches, with a bit of tweaking, thanks to a full spice cupboard. But not everyone lives on a farm, or has a garden, or lives in a country with the social safety net Scotland has. Or is in a relationship where both people are invested in taking care of each other.

When politicians wax on about poor people needing to make better choices? Don’t jump on that bandwagon. It’s gross. Instead, elect politicians who will help tackle poverty with real programs and opportunities.

And for those of you who say you don’t do politics? Poverty is a political choice, being made by those we’re electing. Politics is an empty cupboard, and being three months behind in your rent. Not doing politics? That’s privilege on display.

And that’s why we’ve gone political at The Hirsel.

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