Cheap eats. German discounters. Euro value shops. Big supermarkets. Iceland.
We’ve often lambasted here for being excessively focused on the cheap. Or told that it’s immoral to not buy organic. Or that we should only eat Fairtrade or totally ethical produce. Or that decent humans buy from small, local producers at farmer’s markets, choosing fresh and seasonal all the time in order to whip up a delicious and healthy midweek supper for all the family, and that the most decent of all the humans grow their own. Mostly very laudable, with ideals I largely support for everyone, and great if you can afford to. More power to anyone who can do it, including two good friends who have kindly made me some gorgeous seasonal meals using local produce and their own home-grown veg; I want to be more like them.
But frankly – and this may lose us some readers – there can be some serious snobbery and self-indulgence about the eating habits of people on low incomes, something not far from “why can’t they just make their own foie-gras at home and dig up some fresh vegetables from their acre of land?” These attitudes are based on an unwillingness or inability to understand the real causes of poverty. People on lower incomes don’t usually have the opportunity to learn about the healthiest choices, or the time to buy them, or the money to afford them.
It is middle and upper class indulgence and arrogance, I write, without a hint of self-awareness, as I point you towards that not-remotely middle-class organ The Guardian, where the controversial polemicist Suzanne Moore says today that:
Food has become the ultimate signifier of class. Superstar chefs say eat seasonally and simply. Again, this requires dosh. Choice costs.
This, Moore points out with reference to Nigella’s “goosefat cheesecake with poured cream”, is leading to a proliferation of platitudes and lectures, aimed at the beastly poor, about how to eat well and won’t they all stop being so fat if we just tax their fizzy drinks- while at the same time people on welfare are stripped further and further of choice, opportunity, dignity, and money, and demonised as welfare cheats by politicians and the media. Moore is talking about the UK. She could just as easily be talking about Ireland.