Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jamie Oliver and food

Perhaps Jamie Oliver might have a point .

80% of British people did not sit around a table for dinner, the chef said: "It's true in London and in the big cities of the north. It is connected to the new poverty."

Oliver went on: "England is one of the richest countries in the world. The people I'm talking about have enormous televisions - a lot bigger than my own - the latest in mobile phones, cars and they go and get drunk in pubs at the weekend.

"Their poverty shows in the way they feed themselves."

Oliver said in his experience the cuisine of "people living in the slums of Soweto" was "more diverse" that that of Britons.

For Oliver a soundbite guaranteed press coverage but should we forget other facts .

Elizabeth Kineelwe, the cook at a drop-in centre that provides meals and support to orphans and impoverished families in Soweto, Johannesburg's largest township, is on the frontlines of a nationwide struggle to cope with rising food prices. Lately, she has been cooking a lot of cabbage soup.

"I used to grill chicken for the children, but now we can't," she sighed. "Yesterday, I paid R6.19 [US$0.81] for a bundle of cabbage. It used to be two or three rand six months ago."

The cost of basic foods like bread, rice and maize-meal is climbing.

Elizabeth Rapuleng, who also runs a drop-in centre for children, told IRIN/PlusNews that a local bakery was no longer donating bread. "We've tried to reduce the number of kids we're feeding but they still come here, so we just have to make the food go further," she said.

Prof Alan Whiteside, head of the Health Economics and HIV Research Division (HEARD) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the AIDS epidemic affected the ability of households both to produce and buy food when families lost productive adults to HIV/AIDS. "It results in skipping meals, eating less quality food. It’s a catastrophe on top of a chronic problem,"

So it is still the same old story - good diet depends on the money in your pocket

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