Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Guys, we had it all wrong. This man has solved food insecurity!

4 Comments

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

You would think that I’d have had my fill of ranting about food insecurity and food bank-type “challenges”. Apparently not.

I came across another article last week in which the author bragged about how easy it was for them to follow the SNAP challenge. You know, the one that Gwyneth Paltrow made waves with her purchase of 7 limes on her meagre budget.

The author of the current article took exception to a couple of the rules; i.e. not using food purchased prior to the start of the challenge and not accepting free food. He complained that because of this rule he wasted three eggs and half a pound of spinach. I understand the frustration with wasting food but surely those could have been given to someone, consumed before beginning the challenge, or the spinach could have been frozen for use after the challenge. As for not accepting free food, I assume that’s to make it a level playing field as participants could have friends buy them lunch or have access to free food at meetings and events that people living in poverty would not have the opportunity to take advantage of. Yes, there is free food available to people in poverty through meal programs and food banks but how wrong would it be for someone playing poor for a month to use these services, thereby literally taking food from the people who need it the most.

Okay, to the point. Our author brags about how easy it was to make inexpensive nutritious meals. While he does make a good point that fast food isn’t as cheap as many people believe, he also fails to note that for someone who has a small amount of time and money (and perhaps limited cooking facilities and cooking skills) bulk purchases of nutritious foods may not be possible and quick and easy calories from McDonald’s might be the solution.

What really got my blood boiling was this:

“It’s about mindset, not money

I believe food insecurity is due to a combination of issues, but after living a month on such a strict budget I don’t believe money is one of them…

SNAP provides more than enough for a month’s worth of food, and that food insecurity is more of an education issue than a money issue.”

Such willful ignorance. To have the gall to accuse people who are living in poverty that it’s their “mindset” turns my stomach. Such an unfortunate conclusion to reach at the end of a challenge which is intended to help a person better relate to others, not proselytize to them. While there are many factors that contribute to food insecurity, income is number one. There’s also: time, knowledge, skill, confidence, access to food, access to cooking tools and facilities, space to store food, having a stove or a refrigerator, having recipes… Certainly, education can be a factor in helping people who are experiencing food insecurity but if it were the true problem then we’d see a lot more people with all incomes suffering from food insecurity. You can teach people how to cook and that soup is a great nutritious meal to make all you want but if they can’t read recipes, don’t have a large pot, a decent knife, ability to get to a store with affordable produce then they’re not going to be making soup.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

4 thoughts on “Guys, we had it all wrong. This man has solved food insecurity!

  1. I am always surprised that people, who truly are not poor, take a challenge and really do not understand all the possible struggles one may have related to food (as you have mentioned). I have taken the time to have a few picutre recipes developed for those that can’t read and or none English speaking.

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  2. My daughters and I were just having this conversation, specifically about all of the equipment and tools we take for granted for cooking and don’t realize it. My oldest daughter is now a student in her own apartment for the first time far from home and is now realizing all of the comforts of home she doesn’t have. She embarked upon making homemade perogies for a thanksgiving treat but first had to visit the dollar store for a potato peeler, cheese grater, rolling pin and cookie cutter. These tools all add to the up front cost of a “from scratch” recipe. It is easy to see how it is cheaper in the short run to buy frozen perogies on sale at the grocery store. It is one thing to live on a budget in a fully equipped kitchen but quite another to live on that same budget without all of the “extras”.

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    • Exactly! We need to consider so many factors when it comes to assessing food insecurity. Simply living on a small food budget each month does not provide a true lived experience. On another note, I hop your daughter’s pierogis were a success!

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