People have been taking the feed yourself for £1 a day challenge for different causes; most of these to do with alleviating poverty around the world.
These people don’t need to feed on £1 a day. They can spend more, eat better and spend less time worrying about what to cook and how to keep the costs down. Instead, it may be more beneficial to the people living in poverty if we don’t emulate them but direct the energy going on the experiment to working out ways to eradicate poverty.
This made me ask myself whether I’ll be up for taking the challenge.
My answer is a most definite ‘no’. And I do realise that this probably comes as a surprise to some of you who have seen my ‘eat for less’ posts.
I know that I made – and won – a bet that I can serve three course French dinner for £1.50 per person.
I know that we make our bread and I published a detailed account of bread-o-nomics.
I know that I wrote about turning less than £7 worth of vegetables and pulses into 46 healthy meals.
I still will never take the feed yourself on £1 a day challenge. My reasons range from the ‘broadly political’ to the ‘deeply personal.
If you can feed yourself on £1 a day, anyone can
This one is not so much about whether or not people are capable of feeding themselves on £1 a day. I believe anyone can eventually do it although the quality would vary very much – after all we should all marvel at the power of adaptation.
My objection is more about the normative side of things. Yes, people can feed themselves on £1 a day but this doesn’t make it right.
I’m concerned that by bringing this level of frugal inventiveness into the mainstream we may send a perverse signal to politicians and employers: that if people can exist on very little it is right to pay very little.
Call me a leftie but I believe that everyone should be able to earn a wage allowing them to live and eat well (I know that some eat very well on very little money but I’ll get to this later).
Employers should pay a living wage and benefits, and pensions should be enough so people don’t have to eat on £1 a day if they don’t wish to.
To feed yourself on £1 a day is restrictive
There are many delicious meals that are cheap, I know. Still, I believe that having only meals that are cheap is fairly restrictive and can become boring.
It also breeds mentality according to which we eat to keep alive not for pleasure.
I believe that food is one of the sensual pleasures in life. This pleasure, however, come with variety and quality.
Life without cheese and steak – albeit in moderation – is hardly worth the bother.
If must than do!
I don’t need to feed myself for £1 a day.
I know that many people simply have no choice.
But I believe that we have to work towards eliminating the need for people to eat on £1 a day.
Too time consuming
I remember experimenting with eating mostly fruit and vegetables. It was some kind of diet where the guy who started it was arguing that this is how our predecessors ate and this is the natural way for us to eat.
I shared what I’m doing with a colleague of mine in Finland: an extremely clever woman I have published with.
“Yes, this is how monkeys eat but they don’t have much time and energy for anything else.”
And I remembered my high school biology lessons: our predecessors evolved and developed intelligence when they started scavenging meat.
Why am I telling you this story?
Because eating very well on very little money is possible, I know. But doing it is so time and energy consuming that I doubt I’d have time for anything else.
Eating well on a very tight budget demands inventiveness
Apart from being time and energy consuming, eating well on a very tight budget is conditional on incredible inventiveness and creativity.
I don’t think I have it.
Or if I do, I’d rather channel my creativity elsewhere. After all, in my case eating on a very tight budget would not be borne by necessity but choice.
No, I would never take the feed yourself for £1 a day challenge. I see it as a pointless gesture if meant to be part of the struggle against poverty – you don’t help the poor by joining them. Also there is something very wrong about people of means leaving as people who have hit really hard times.
At the same time I abhor waste; particularly wasting food. This is why while I’ rather suspicious of vanilla frugality, I’m all for becoming a frugal artist.
Have been an apprentice frugal artist for several years now.