Archives for posts with tag: Austerity

In posting this, I don’t want to make kitsch of hunger, the haunting reality of which lies beneath the fabulous staging, filming and ingenious rhyming of “question” with “indigestion” in this scene from the musical film “Oliver!”  This was a major movie in my childhood, so of course I think of it when “gruel” comes up in conversation.

Cooking dinner a few nights ago, I heard on the radio  Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg referring to Cameron’s suggested EU reforms as “pretty thin gruel.”

I guess this phrase means meager, and a mockery of something that could be proferred in better form. I don’t know about the EU reforms, I have all sorts of different opinions, but I’d never heard this expression before.  I’m going to start using it whenever I can.

(Also just learned the phrase “the pips will squeak” as in “We will squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak.” Will try to use find uses for this figure of speech too.)

I do associate gruel with Victorian workhouses (the “Oliver!” brainwash), but of course it would go way back as a grain soup thinned as far as necessitated by scarcity or poverty.  And it can be make thicker as in a porridge, and dolled up with butter, and dried fruits, and perhaps sweetened or made savoury as seems to be a chef-trend these days, in which the well-off eat well yet food insecurity in UK households and child poverty is increasing.  The “thin gruel” Cameron should be called up on is his government’s pretentious effort to claim to be concerned about children and poverty.  Austerity policies mean the pips are really going to squeak as kids go to bed and school squeezed by that feeling of not-enough and under-nutrition.  That’s called hunger.   Our mental images of Oliver Twist asking “Please Sir, I want some more” are a nostalgic version of a clear, documented need now, if we choose to see and respond to that hunger.

Food writer and activist Jack Monroe on poverty, hunger, feminism, being a mother with a toddler, and the weight children bear on their “little teeny-tiny shoulders” of reckless financial decision making, political cleaning up of which justifies Austerity.  Cutting ribbons on food banks as a disgrace. Inequality. Wanting change.  Worth your time watching.

Addressing hunger with food-waste might seem like a perfect kill-two-birds-with-one-stone approach to large social-economic problems. I’m not so sure about this and am working on a piece of writing that began around early campaigning in the UK to follow the French lead in legislating supermarket food waste. Haven’t really sorted through my thoughts and critiques yet, but am collecting ideas around this theme. Megan Blake is an academic geographer at University of Sheffield and writes a blog about food justice and hunger, among other issues. This piece I’m now reblogging is a really good beginning, and I’m hoping posting it will help me sort through my own thoughts on this topic. She puts the connection of waste and hunger in the context of neoliberal ideas of the market, and looks at activists seeking to shift the values of the debate from the economic to a social realm.

Nearly two years old, but this interview with Prof. Tim Lang is so wide ranging and stimulating, I wanted to repost it.  Have a listen when you get the chance– say, if you need to scrub your floor or make some kimchi for a friend with flu. It’s a broad discussion of what food politics means in Britain, in this era of corporate dominance and a policy of austerity.

If you’d prefer to read the interview, you can find it here.

I don’t cease to be thankful for how much knowledge and perspective is ours for free on the internet, and how people we know and don’t know, in this case Sophie Laggan, a food policy researcher/ activist whom I follow on Twitter, direct us through links and posts.  It’s meaningful for me to be part of that sharing too.

By the way, there’s loads of great material to listen to on the Transition Culture Soundcloud.

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