Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Wow! So, what to write? What can one person do to help to eradicate poverty? And how can a little blog like mine raise awareness of this problem? The main site advises us to stay on topic. After all, any blog's audience visits because of the usual subject matter. But I can't exactly tell you to recycle your sextoys or sponsor yourselves to have sex in order to promote the cause.

In these days of the Credit Crunch, I think that the majority of the population have some inkling of what it's like to be tightening our belts because of the vicissitudes of our own particular financial situations. Not for many of us the prospect of a golden hello or goodbye no matter how good or bad a job we've done and certainly not the safety net of a Government bail out if we really mess up. Our paycheques don't normally extend into six figures over a year. And yet most of us use part of our income to support various charities close to our hearts which help the less fortunate children in the world. Even if it is only in the form of an annual contribution to a telethon such as Sport/Comic Relief or Children in Need.

We can also buy products that are labelled Fairtrade. Helping local farmers to get the proper price for their produce and encouraging them to farm organically. There is even a way to shop in a good cause.

Financially, there isn't a huge amount that mere mortals like us can do to alleviate world poverty. That job belongs to those with political clout and billionaire bank accounts. I cannot help but find it obscene that anyone can have such a monetary security blanket and not go out of their way to try to help those in desperate need. But so often it seems only to be used to grease the wheels that will enable these wealthy people to make even more money. In this 'me me me' society, where materialism is King, the poor just get poorer and the rich are continually feeding their 'I want it all' habit, whilst the social niceties of life are being lost forever.

Watching Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food programme on Channel 4 last night really brought this home. There were five-year-old children who had never eaten a home-cooked meal and whose learning tools were to remember which food came out of which colour/shaped polystyrene package. Jamie's 'Pass It On' recipe idea could be instrumental in revolutionising the way we eat today and yet of the 20 or so local companies who originally took part, only four have provided the oven and facilities that were required to keep the challenge running. Jamie has tried so hard to change our horrible fixation with processed and pre-prepared meals by showing us how to cook simply and cheaply from scratch. Stir fries are so simple and quick to cook, the ingredients so easy to source, and the health benefits so huge that I cannot believe that more people do not cook them. Jamie took us to the local hospital in Rotherham where he was shown one of the new 'king-size' beds and hoists that are being brought in to cope with our overweight population. These facilities cost several thousand pounds per week to lease, all money taken from the Government pot that has to fund our health care and any social benefits that might be used to combat our own national poverty problem. But, despite this, the number of obese people in our society is still growing, along with the extent of that personal obesity, and lack of funds to buy healthy food is often given as the reason behind this trend.

They always say that providing food and shelter for those who are in need is only the start of the problem, but if you can provide a poor man with the means to fish or farm and feed his family in the future, then you have made a real difference. Jamie is trying, in his own way, to do this but no-one really seems to care when they can eat with far less effort via a meal from one of the multi-national chains. One cannot help but wonder if this apathy in the face of the advance of big business is prevalent elsewhere also and this is why the gap between those that have and those that have not is growing ever wider.

Still, I guess, like the big vote in Congress recently, sometimes us little people do need to rattle our sabres just so the big cheeses know that we are watching.

For other ways in which you can help fight poverty, check out the Resources page.


Gorilla Bananas said...

The fish are a bit thin in the sea these days, although someone once told me they actually enjoyed being fished. But how healthy humans would be if lived on fruit and veg, porridge and stir fried locusts! I would be a TV chef like Graham Kerr rather than little Jimmy Oliver.

The Troll said...

Very nice Cake. I participate in Blog Action Day too. Just because I know my opinion will be a nice stark contrast.

having my cake said...

Mr Bananas, Mostly that is my diet... well apart from the locusts :P And I grew up with Graham Kerr. Made mealtime extremely entertaining seeing who could come up with the most orgasmic tasting face :)

Troll - It's a very interesting post, although I dont really understand how your political system works :)

Trixie said...

I so agree on cooking from scratch, people CAN do it cheaply. What they do in Oz is they've put higher taxes on prepared foods, to force people to cook from scratch. Maybe that's what we should be doing here.

Walker said...

There will always be poverty in a capitalist society.
Those with to much give only as much as they could deduct on their taxes.
Many of us do what we can to survive the crunch of the economy but it seems that it keeps on bashing us when we do find ways to beat back the growing hunger pains because it's the only way for society to keep up with the needs of the many.

Politicians try and find ways to balance everything by taking from us to give to those who need it while corporate heads live as they always have.

I watched someone the other day being questioned about the 500 million dollar handshake he got when his company went banckrupt and all he said was "When we made money no one complained".
When the asked if he felt bad he said he had no reason to.

I wonder how many people 500 million would feed?
I have found those who don't have are the most generous to those in need.

A.B. said...

“The mother of revolution and crime is poverty” Aristotle

It's as old as dirt.

Thanks for participating Cake - your thoughts and links are enlightening.

Don't worry about not understanding our politics... not many Americans do either.


scarlet-blue said...

I will always have a thing for fish fingers . . . but apart from those I don't really buy pre-packaged meals any more . . . and my food bill has gone down.

Helga Hansen said...

I think it's really important that people learn to cook from scratch... my son did a term's worth of cookery lessons, and loved every minute of it. I am planning to buy Jamie's new book, and get Son cooking again... my way of "passing it on"!!

Sadly, unhealthy food is cheap, but only if you don't think outside the takeaway box!! Once we educate people on how to cook it, we just have to hope it won't cost a fortune to cook it!

Helga Hansen said...

PS. Good post, Ms Cake - food for thought, as always!

Ben said...

Oh Cake, unfortunately in the fast food society unhealthy food is easy and cheap. However, the price of cheap is food laden with salt and preservatives. I am finding that the current generation who were born here are losing the culinary arts while the generation of visa holders from any other country cook well from scratch. I hope your cakes are prepared from basic ingredients and not from the box. Thanks for awareness blogging.

Anonymous said...

The U.K new Government Accountability Office (GAO) literature review of 53 articles on childhood obesity and factors affecting levels of physical activity reinforces the need for schools to have Coordinated School Health Programs (CSHP) to help decrease obesity among children and youth.