Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Can Poor People Cook?

The new liberal outrage of the day were the unfortunate remarks of one Baroness Jenkin who apparently cooks her own breakfast which costs only 4p. She stated that if poor people in Britain knew how to cook, they could save money by preparing their own meals, instead of buying fast food and wouldn't have to rely on charity in the form of food banks. Naturally, she was accused of committing crimes against humanity by refusing to blindly accept the dogma that all poor people are saints and their problems are never the consequences of their own stupid decisions.

She was duly chastised for her heresy and promptly apologised. It's noteworthy that if you look at her picture in Daily Mail, you'll see an older woman in good physical shape, in contrast to many lower class women who are often overweight and even obese. According to the statistical data, UK actually leads in obesity rates within the EU. We are experiencing the same problem in the Netherlands, with 4 out of 10 people being overweight. As someone pointed out on a Dutch website, lower class people often don't bother to cook, spend more money eating out and in general, rely on more expensive but less nutritious fast foods which may contribute to the problem.

Well, it appears that the Baroness actually spent some time researching the issue as she was a part to a parliamentary inquiry on hunger in UK, which among other things, stated that some parents would rather spend their money on alcohol, cigarettes and takeaways and lacked basic budgeting skills. In other words, some of those saintly "poor people" who are more often than not on welfare, couldn't be bothered to cook a decent meal for their children and preferred getting drunk to buying nutritious food.

Now, I'm not a saint myself and I do enjoy my glass of wine with dinner and we regularly eat out and order takeouts sometimes, when I had no time to cook a proper meal. However, it's still more an exception than a rule in our household, and what is more important, we can afford it! Now, I don't want to underestimate the plight of genuinely poor people like our elderly and sick who can't pay their medical bills any more, and poverty is a problem in Europe, however if some "poor people" are suffering from being overweight and obesity and would rather buy alcohol than food for their kids, we are obviously having a problem.

Which solution was offered by the British investigation committee? Well, as usual, more of the nanny statism. It's apparently the duty of schools to teach children to cook and the government should restore the welfare state in its fullest glory (who is going to pay for it wasn't mentioned). They did mention parental responsibility, though, so there are some signs of progress.

Since I don't live in UK, I can't state with any certainty that the Baroness is 100 % right on everything but I do know one thing: cooking from scratch IS cheaper and healthier. If you want to save money, learn how to cook!


  1. I find this interesting. I work in a food pantry here in the states, while they are waiting for their turn to shop for their food , these "Poor" people are all on their phones texting and such. Yes some of them are truly needy but you can tell some are not. thanks for the article

  2. You are welcome, Becky! You know, when I think of poor people, I usually have this mental image of a hard-working mother trying to raise 6 children on a tiny salary her husband makes. The kind who knows how to make cute dresses out of flour sacks and can cook 33 dishes using simple potatoes. Unfortunately, the reality is often different and some of the people we call poor are where they are because of their own laziness, poor impulse control and total lack of character as proven by the lousy parents who get drunk instead of feeding their kids.

  3. And yes, they have more expensive phones than myself and when the monthly welfare check comes they will buy expensive stuff and spend the rest of the month eating by the Salvation Army, but then they probably don't know any better...

  4. Sanne, this sounds exactly like the US.

  5. There are genuinely poor people and then there are those who only want to take advantage. I have found that the genuinely poor are usually the most resourceful in running a home and cooking. I once witnessed a close friend with meager means put together a birthday party for about 20 children complete with cake, drinks and a buffet table of food - for $20! It was so inspiring. Needless to say, they shopped smart and made their own food. As for those who just want to take advantage - it's maddening. I've heard people brag about not working but having all their needs - and wants - provided by the government. I definitely want to see those who truly need the help to have it. But for the ones who are just lazy and entitled? There has to be a better way and things need to change.

  6. We should probably go back to distinguishing between "deserving poor" and "undeserving poor", i.e. someone who lost his job because the company went bankrupt vs somebody who lost his job because of his drinking habit. This sort of thing. And yet, since new research shows that poverty, especially of the 2nd type may be genetically determined (tied to low IQ, poor impulse control etc) I'm not really sure what can be done, or rather whether we as a society would have guts to implement "tough" measures. Truly, the poor will always be with us....

  7. This might sound harsh but I think being poor is a state of mind.

    If you are using your lack of money as an excuse, you are poor.
    If you think others are responsible for your well being, you are poor.
    If you think everybody should have equally everything, you are poor.
    If you think material posessions make you happy, you are poor.
    If you think going without something (iPad, sushi, vacations, you name it) makes you poor, you are poor.
    If you don't value yourself, you are poor.