My ready meal is none of your business
February 20, 2018 1:33 AM   Subscribe

Jack Monroe (previous) has responded to a now deleted tweet by Bath Conservatives suggesting Monroe is the poster girl for eating on £10 a week. Monroe's response: I have lived, waiting in fear for this moment, for almost six years. Waiting, to be upheld as some kind of justification for the deepest incisions of Conservative cuts as they seek to justify their barbaric policies by attaching them to someone who can be used as an example of ‘pulling themselves up by their bootstraps’.

Monroe has also reblogged previous recipes to demonstrate how price rises have affected even their cheapest recipes- Monroe's £10 shop in 2014 now comes to £16.20.
posted by threetwentytwo (33 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
It would be nice if there was legal recourse for unwanted citations...
posted by Samizdata at 1:48 AM on February 20, 2018


A precision take down of Tory let-them-eat-homemade-cake. Fuck them. And all the respect for Jack.
posted by doornoise at 1:54 AM on February 20, 2018 [19 favorites]


If we're celebrating Jack Monroe again, let's also include the fact that they won a libel case against the odious Katie Hopkins last year. Jack is so, so great.
posted by parm at 3:29 AM on February 20, 2018 [31 favorites]


Entertainingly, that libel case made Hopkins have to sell her house. It is particuarly impressive to have run up a apparently ~£500k bill, as this was the original settlement offer:

“Dear Katie Hopkins, public apology and £5K to migrant rescue and I won’t sue. It’ll be cheaper for you and v satisfying for me.”

I rarely indulge in schadenfreude. I feel free to do so here.
posted by jaduncan at 3:41 AM on February 20, 2018 [70 favorites]


Heads up that Monroe's pronouns are they/them/their.
posted by hoyland at 3:54 AM on February 20, 2018 [18 favorites]


Jack Monroe, who has recently started falling in with the Women's Equality Party transmisogynists, and started sticking up for their right to a transmisogynistic platform, as well as to discriminate against women who aren't cis. Tweets since deleted, of course, and all but impossible impossible to Google in the face of all the news stories about Hopkins, but no apology, no acknowledgement of a mistake, and a continued involvement with many of the TERFs involved.
posted by Dysk at 3:59 AM on February 20, 2018 [15 favorites]


Sorry about the pronouns. I did check Jack's Twitter page but should have been more careful.

Also, Dysk, I had missed that, thanks for the information.
posted by threetwentytwo at 4:47 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Whether you think Monroe is the right kind of feminist or not, Jack has done amazing work to change minds and raise awareness for people fighting to exist under the pointless, hateful British austerity of the last 10 years. I find them a bit exhausting sometimes but they are remarkably honest and just seems to be doing most of the work of figuring themselves out in a more public way than most. They may get some things wrong sometimes, and that might be worth a post of its own. But back to the content of this post-

I wonder what the methodology for re-pricing their recipes are - same shops, same brands, etc? Because if so that's huge. Almost every recipe has increased in cost by at least 50 to 100% - which doesn't seem like a lot when you're going from £1 to £1.50, but is life-changing if this extrapolates up to the full cost of a weekly shop. I'm guessing it doesn't for everyone, but possibly because they're just naturally choosing cheaper/lower quality food, or cutting out things they would have mindlessly purchased a few years ago. That must be what I'm doing - my food spend (albeit not one overly focused on budget) seems to be about the same as it was a few years ago - I wish there was an easy way to compare what I bought then to what I buy now. I bet there would be some noticeable differences. If you've already done the work of cutting out everything extraneous and buying the cheapest options in every case, there's no way to get around that price increase. Another stealth tax on the poor.
posted by cilantro at 5:59 AM on February 20, 2018 [16 favorites]




[Fixed the pronouns in the post. (For future reference, it's best if the OP contacts us for changes since we don't typically alter the text of posts, and will usually just pull the post if there's an obvious problem, and let them repost or give us their edits. Seems like threetwentytwo is fine with the fix, so going ahead.) ]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:12 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


[And fixed cilantro's comment, too, by request.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:47 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


The thing that I've been finding irritating (but no more than that, because I'm on median income, and have no dependents) is indeed how much prices are rising. And one thing that I noticed last time I was in Dublin was that, instead of being more expensive than in the UK, everything I normally buy at Tesco was cheaper - e.g. €0.75 for a litre of UHT soya milk, which is now £0.95 in the UK for a worse (unsweetened) product.

I suspect Tesco UK are doing some pretty strong building up of the reserves and pre emptive price rises so that they don't need to raise prices on Brexit, when presumably their supply chain will go to shit, and they may well have problems recruiting workers. I suspect that's what's caused a lot of price rises with food.

On Twitter, I've dealt with the cast iron shit who tweets for @BathCA. There's some amount of speculation whether it's a Bath Uni Conservatives member, or the alter ego of our 2015-2017 MP. Location information suggests it follows the ex-MP around, but he tweets from his own account and is slightly more measured. Although still pretty childish and clueless for someone who was an MP. It was a local Green Party member (also, its best ever parliamentary candidate, who came 4th with 12% of the vote in 2015) who was putting the Conservative under pressure about food poverty when they decided to @ Jack Monroe in. I'm hopeful this will be in every election leaflet in the near future.
posted by ambrosen at 8:32 AM on February 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I wonder what the methodology for re-pricing their recipes are - same shops, same brands, etc? Because if so that's huge.

I also wonder how much of the increases were pre- and post- the Brexit vote.
posted by daveje at 8:34 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ- no one wants to fucking live on £10 a week even if they can!

When I was spending a similar amount on food, it was fucking terrible! I was hungry and anxious all the fucking time! I probably should have been on food stamps!

Whatever little public school-educated little Tory shit the Bath Conservatives have handling their social media should have one of those ancient Greek curses put on them where any food they try to eat, no matter how delicious, turns to ash before they can get it to their mouth.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:43 AM on February 20, 2018 [25 favorites]


I mean, that is literally a Dickensian level of cluelessness!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:47 AM on February 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Dickensian, yes. I wouldn't bet on it being cluelessness, per se.
posted by seyirci at 9:26 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


cluelessness

Much like malcompetence, there's a desperate need for a single word abstract noun for the heartless behaviour of someone who's assuring people that some kind of suffering that the speaker doesn't have to endure is "fine, actually" because they've thought through how easy it is in the same way that a ten year old thinks that their parent can buy them a £500 holiday because they earn £25,000 a year.

Heartcluelessness, or something.
posted by ambrosen at 9:51 AM on February 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Well if they don't know how to properly budget and shop for nutritious meals, why not just do it for them? Eliminate cash payments and just send them a box of food. We're apparently going to be doing that over in the US, and I'm sure it's going to swimmingly.

Just swimmingly.
posted by Naberius at 9:57 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Living on a typical food aid budget for a month should be a prerequisite for making food aid policy.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:09 AM on February 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


Over here in Canada this sort of thing is called the Tsubouchi Diet:

Twenty years ago this month, Harris’s social services minister David Tsubouchi suggested a single, able-bodied person on welfare could survive on a monthly food budget of $90.21.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:15 AM on February 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


When I was spending a similar amount on food, it was fucking terrible! I was hungry and anxious all the fucking time! I probably should have been on food stamps!

One of the things that I still regret is the time that I lived on stale baked goods rather than getting food stamps every month that I was qualified for them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:18 AM on February 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Living on a typical food aid budget for a month should be a prerequisite for making food aid policy.

I think this kind of poverty tourism would have the opposite effect. They'd say, it was tough but thanks to my resourcefulness I was able to feed my family on the budget, and then mentally ignore all the staples they already had on hand to make their food acceptable and all the times they ate at friends' houses and the like.

I fast during Ramadan and supposedly its supposed to make me understand how people without enough food to eat feel, but I have a decent meal in the morning and one in the evening, and then snacks as well. So fine, I feel hunger pangs during the day but I am back to "normal" by evening.

If you're going to make people follow the budget they are imposing on others then it needs to start before they get into that position and they have to keep it up for the duration of it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2018 [15 favorites]


Wondering whether I could make a useful comment out of it, I found this 2004 Guardian review of Matthew Parris' second trip to the breadline in the North-East of England (the first was in 1984), where the reviewer mentions that a number of other politicians had made similar trips in between. The general sense is that if they get through it somehow (and even if not, as in Parris' first jaunt) they can say that they now Understand the Problem, which is almost as good as doing something about it, isn't it?

Didn't Iain Duncan Smith do a similar thing? And it doesn't seem to have reformed him an iota.
posted by Grangousier at 12:15 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


The other day I saw a quote from Melville that I can't get out of my head:
“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”
People whose biggest personal food crisis is that their filet mignon is overcooked are bitching about the "extravagant" lifestyle of the poor. The chutzpah.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:17 PM on February 20, 2018 [19 favorites]


Governments and social service agencies around the world have studied how much it costs to buy groceries for a nutritious diet (in Canada we use a calculation tool calledThe Nutritious Food Basket). It's not a mystery, and anyone who actually expects poor people to get by on less is either heartless or willfully ignorant.

If Jack and their toddler son were transported to my community it would cost them at least $84.00 CAN a week / $336.00 per month (about £47.50 per week / £190 per month) to buy enough nutritious food to keep them from going hungry. That calculation used to arrive at that amount explicitly assumes people have the necessary time, food skills, and equipment to create meals from low-cost food staples and ingredients and that they have the time and transportation to comparison shop for the cheapest prices. It does not include convenience foods, snack foods, or special dietary requirements. Our Public Health unit publishes their Nutritious Food Basket data on their website with instructions for how to calculate the amount for your household. They also include pointed info about how our welfare and disability programs fail to provide many households enough food to pay their rent AND eat properly (never mind other expenses).

The nutrition and calorie insufficient Tsubouchi Diet from 1995 mentioned above budgeted $90.21 CAN a month for food for a single adult on social assistance - about $134.00 in today's dollars if we pretend social assistance rises along with inflation (which, ha ha, it definitely doesn't). The actual minimum amount required in my community to properly feed a single adult is twice that: $265.00. Social assistance for a single adult here is $721 a month, leaving only $465 for rent, toiletries, medicine, clothes and everything else (in a city where even renting a room in a shared-house will cost you more than that, and usually won't include utilities).
posted by Secret Sparrow at 12:27 PM on February 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


Following the same logic, shouldn't the Secret Service switch to using Thoughts and Prayers to protect POTUS? Much cheaper that way.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:24 PM on February 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm really good at budget food, but I would never impose it on anyone else.
Years ago, during a family crisis, I was the cook. And my family couldn't believe the budget I brought them. But the thing is that I live in a very impoverished area where a frugal housewife can find cheap groceries every day. A second class squash is fine if you cook it right away, but it will be rotted the next day. However, to live on that type of produce means spending hours on shopping every single day. I could do that because I was part of a large family where I had that single responsibility. If I'd had to earn a day's work as well — imagine that…
Sometimes I think that our current Western system of having two adults working 8+ hours ever day is extremely wasteful. One of my best friends spent several years caring for his kids and feeding his family, most of the the time either on part time or parental leave, and I feel their family had a much better balance of work/life/economy than the rest of us.
posted by mumimor at 1:40 PM on February 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm sure it's instructive for politicians to live on a poverty diet for a month or so, but part of what causes so much anxiety, is not really knowing when it's going to end and how long you can go on for.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:51 PM on February 20, 2018 [20 favorites]


Yeah, I've lived on austerity budgets for food in university and also to save up money for the down payment for our house, and a couple of years ago when I was laid off I also made a sort of depressing game of it. In none of those cases was I experiencing actual food insecurity because I had choices, not a completely empty wallet (or parental wallet.) Even so I found it stressful, especially in the last case, because I was also budgeting for my kids' lunchboxes and meals.

I think this kind of frank, specific writing is really invaluable. And shame on that social media person; I hope s/he/they comes out and tries it for a couple of months.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:39 PM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Living on a typical food aid budget for a month should be a prerequisite for making food aid policy.

Amen! And not just for a month - they should have to live on this budget for month after month after month. Because you don't get a holiday from poverty.

I've always thought that politicians should be paid social-assistance rates - see how they like living on it. But, unfortunately, the ones who most need the lesson would never get it, as they are independently wealthy and have never had to work for a living (like the Fords).

(People also tell me that those who aren't wealthy wouldn't go into politics without the high salary - over $100k for councilors in my city. But then again, lots of very talented and capable people are in the same city teaching university for $20-30k/year (or less) as adjuncts, so I don't know if that argument holds).

Twenty years ago this month, Harris’s social services minister David Tsubouchi suggested a single, able-bodied person on welfare could survive on a monthly food budget of $90.21.

And 19 years ago this summer, my now-husband experimented with living as a single person on $100/month for food. He shopped at Honest Ed's and ate a lot of pasta and hot dogs - and was having dinners with family weekly - and still couldn't do it.
posted by jb at 3:51 PM on February 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think this kind of poverty tourism would have the opposite effect. They'd say, it was tough but thanks to my resourcefulness I was able to feed my family on the budget, and then mentally ignore all the staples they already had on hand to make their food acceptable and all the times they ate at friends' houses and the like.

There's evidence to suggest this is the case: attempting to induce empathy by giving people a "taste" of what a miserable situation is like often results in reduced sympathy, because the taster doesn't seem that bad. See also: all those VR experiences of poverty or domestic violence.
posted by Merus at 4:10 PM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


If anyone actually cares, Monroe uses/accepts she/they pronouns and consistently refers to herself as a woman and mother. The they/Mx business was and is an expression of a fuller understanding of her own identity that she hasn't walked back in the least.

Speaking of her twitter account, and getting on-topic, this tweet rather says it all, doesn't it? "I am very much enjoying all the men telling me how to shop frugally when I LITERALLY WROTE THE BOOK ON IT."
posted by seraphine at 5:08 PM on February 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


A big problem with any sort of argument as to what sort of austerity is possible is that it pretends food is a purely physical need, that the minimum possible assistance one could plausibly derive nutritional needs from is sufficient. And that amount is, if you work it out, pretty low: you can cover a lot of macronutrient needs with rice and beans, supplementing occasionally with other trace needs as necessary, and could probably chisel it down to, like, 25 cents a day per adult or something if you buy in bulk. To me, that's kind of like looking at the need for housing assistance and building a bunch of climate-controlled coffins (as small as possible) for poor people to shelter from dangerous weather in. These approaches take care of the bare physical need without even trying to be psychologically adequate.

The problem with either of these solutions is that to a lifestyle-tourist they don't seem so bad: a meal of bland starches is easy to suffer through, sleeping on a bare surface in a tiny room maybe a bit less so. Most folks could do both for a week with only moderate distress. When you start thinking about living that way, instead of just visiting that lifestyle, and it stretches into a month, 3 months, a year... that's where "moderate distress" becomes "trauma".

Food is one of the things people cling to for stability in their lives. There aren't a lot of things human beings must do. We eat. We sleep. We breathe, but that we don't really have to do consciously at all. Rituals and expectations build up around these acts. Meals become transitional points in the day: on a typical 9-to-5, breakfast heralds the morning and steels you for the day ahead, lunch breaks up the day to decompress, and dinner marks when you can fully relax. Other schedules and roles also build up around mealtimes. Basically, eating regulates and defines a lot of peoples' days and their lives, and if eating becomes a grim expectationless slog, then so will their lives.
posted by jackbishop at 5:51 AM on February 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


« Older from psy-op pamphlet to stateside souvenier   |   Cambridge researchers attempt to vaccinate against... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments