Dear Jamie Oliver...

Dear Jamie Oliver...

Response to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's latest comments on the diets of the poor, how modern day poverty isn't real, and our f*cking massive TVs, from food blogger Miss South.

So tell me why I should listen to you on ‘Money Saving Meals’ when it’s clear that you don’t really understand poverty in the UK? Do you have any special knowledge that the 9 million households who will migrate onto Universal Credit don’t have about the day in day out grind of making ends meet? And why do we have to put up with being derided and criticised yet again? We’ve got the Department of Work and Pensions and the coalition government for that usually…

In this piece, you skirt very close to blaming poor people for just not trying hard enough. Now, I think I’ve covered this before here and I have no great urge to rehash the points (although I’m poor and I do know that a hash makes an inexpensive meal at least), but I’m staggered by your lack of responsibility here Jamie.

One of the biggest reasons we can’t all live the life of a Sicilian peasant with our handful of mussels and darling little pasta dishes is that our shopping options have been decimated by the supermarkets which now account for about 90% of food shopping in the UK. This would include the supermarket chain that you advertised for 10 years. And the other five or six that stock your ready made pasta sauces and branded foods.

This is a situation where supermarkets have filled the breach where people no longer got taught Home Economics or cookery at school by telling them cooking was really really hard and that life would be more simple if they just bought this pre prepared item. They branded and bagged everything we ate and turned it to profit over anything more profound. And you encouraged it by slapping your face and your name on everything from grow bags to magazines because it made you money.

Yes, you set up the Ministry of Food and you’ve made a career out of telling people to eat at home and showing them recipes for meals involving one pepper at a time, but have you ever noticed until now that the supermarkets only sell them a lot of the time in packs of three? That’s too much for one person and not enough for four. Supermarket chains don’t just sell your books, they sell the ingredients you need to use them and both you and they have been making money out of it. And that money isn’t trickling back to our rural economy that produces the food nor to our urban one where people lack genuine shopping choice.

Sure you can scour the aisles for the things that are still cheap, but only if you go to a particular branch and only that branch. There are 16 Tesco and Sainsbury’s within 1 mile of my house, mainly Locals and Expresses and not a single one stocks a decent range of Basics or Everyday Value. You might get bottle of fizzy water from those ranges but you won’t get pulses or bags of flour. The fruit and vegetables are pre packed and portioned. Even the main branches pick their produce carefully. Until last week, Brixton didn’t have a big Sainsbury’s so you had to go to the well heeled areas of Clapham or Dulwich instead. Those stores aren’t aimed at low income shoppers at all.

You are right that the market is. But mine closes half day on a Wednesday and is for someone like me with a fatiguing illness a major event to visit as I walk round carrying bags and lifting and carrying. The shops are small and neither wheel chair or buggy accessible. You have your hands full and no trolley so how you keep toddlers under control and pay for the shopping with just two hands I don’t know. There’s no parking nearby and you have to jostle on and off buses carrying bags. Young able bodied people can do it, but older or disabled ones might not be able to.

And that’s the elephant in the room isn’t it Mister Oliver? You haven’t thought about why people are poor. It’s quite rare that people are poor long term just because they don’t earn enough money. Usually its because there are no jobs at all or because you’ve had employment gaps due to having kids, caring roles for other relatives, periods in prison or an illness or disability. Being sick or disabled makes you around twice as likely to live in poverty than your able bodied counterpart no matter if everything is the same.

3.3 million people in the UK are entitled to Disability Living Allowance. This is a non means tested benefit paid to people in work and out of work who have a long term illness or disability to pay for the extra costs of their condition. Some of those people (I believe around 400,000) only receive the mobility component which means according to the Daily Mail they get a free car. In fact they get to lease a Motability vehicle to use, making up for the fact public transport isn’t suitable for them to use. The other 2.9 million get the care component as well because they need help with their daily care levels.

In order to qualify for any of the three levels of DLA you must need help to prepare a main meal for yourself. The same goes for the two levels of Attendance Allowance, which is the equivalent benefit for the over 65s, and 1.6 million people claim it. So that’s by my maths 4.5 million people in the UK who struggle to make a main meal regularly due to health, let alone time or costs. Many of these people will have carers who tend to them often while holding down jobs, dealing with their own health issues and raising children and you know what? They might not feel like making a two course meal every night after struggling through the day.

And we can’t ignore them. We cannot continue to say that poor people don’t try hard enough and just ignore 4.5 million people in the UK like all currents discussions of food poverty seem to do. Everyone’s so keen to tell the story of those dreadful povvos we know who have a massive flat screen TV and eat chips at every meal. We also can’t ignore the fact that you can’t actually buy a cathrode ray telly anywhere anymore or the dirty little secret that poor people often have massive TVs because HP firms like the Provident and Brighthouse only offer the biggest ones, and most people no matter how deserving don’t want to sit in silence for the year it’d take to save up.

But Jamie, you’ve probably never had problem getting credit with your fixed abode, photo ID, two utility bills (tricky with a prepay meter) and parents who could guarantor for you, so you’re not well versed in pay by week options, credit cards with 45% interest and Wonga loans. Many people have no other way to get a telly. And before you suggest they buy a nice board game instead to enrich their minds, remember that people without tellies won’t be able to keep the ratings up for your shows and then you’ll have to flog lots more Flavour Shakers and classes at Recipease.

And that’s the thing, if the middle classes want to spend their money on your books and branded goods then you revel in it. You haven’t returned to Rotherham to see how the Ministry of Food is getting on 5 or 6 years later and make a TV show about the people who did learn to cook despite the hurdles and pass it on to someone. You’ve been busy flogging reinvented pizzas and opening city restaurants where the bread board alone costs a fiver.

Where’s that social conscience you made your name off? The one that changed lives in Fifteen or Kidbrooke schools where you harnessed the power and promise of food in people’s lives and made it a force for good rather than a pressure? Where’s the understanding that welfare ‘reform’ and the squeeze on wages, but rise on utility bills are making it hard for people to afford to cook a cheap cut of meat?

When did you last talk to a poor person? Someone like me who has done it day in day out for 13 years and never had more than £20 a week for groceries in their adult life? Or someone totally unlike me who doesn’t know how to cook or where to start? Or the person who can’t afford heat, light, council tax, bedroom tax and hot food without juggling so hard they’re exhausted? I suggest you need to start talking to us again Jamie, and this time instead of allowing us to be pithy parables of modern British life in your TV shows, you need to start listening.

Then you might understand that those 7 out of 10 families very often don’t have real choices. They simply make the best decisions from an underwhelming selection of poor options and they don’t deserve to be judged by you while they’re doing it. The fact that the family who eat chips and cheese you find so offensive probably can’t afford the £26 your new economical cookbook costs in hardback makes me feel that your current interest in thrift is actually a money making scheme for you. We all have to make a living Jamie, but if you’re going to be a hypocrite, at least be a self aware one. You’ve stopped trying to help the situation, but are simply inflaming it.*

*Although you are giving me ample opportunity to crack open one of those cans of Special Brew that are seemingly mandatory if you’re on benefits and play the fastest game of ‘poor person bingo‘ possible, so that’s nice. I’m tempted to replace the TV with that when the nights get long again.

Reproduced with permission from the excellent North/South Food

Posted By

Ramona
Aug 28 2013 19:12

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  • When did you last talk to a poor person? Someone like me who has done it day in day out for 13 years and never had more than £20 a week for groceries in their adult life? Or the person who can’t afford heat, light, council tax, bedroom tax and hot food without juggling so hard they’re exhausted?

    Miss South

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Comments

Ramona
Aug 28 2013 19:18

See also:

Why widescreen TVs tell us nothing about a family’s food budget – a few basic sums for Jamie Oliver

Quote:
If he bothered to do a few sums, the gourmet chef would quickly discover that he is excreting orally, and the two things are barely related. These days you can pick up a 40 inch TV from Tescos for £340. That sounds like a lot except, unlike food, which you eat every day, the average TV is replaced just once every six years. Over that time period, a household of four will eat 17520 individual breakfasts and and dinners. Taking away free school meals, the household will also consume 6360 lunches. This makes a grand total of 23,880 meals. If this household had not bought it’s widescreen TV, it would indeed be able to spend more money on food – to be precise, they could spend an extra 1.4 pence per person per meal, an amount more commonly known as “fuck all”.

and Has There Ever Been A Bigger Prick Than Jamie Fucking Oliver?

Quote:
Traditionally violent revolution has been considered one of the best ways out of poverty. Jamie Oliver should consider that before he delivers his next Marie Antoinette routine. Let him eat lead.

Man, I fucking hate Jamie Oliver.

Ed
Aug 28 2013 21:10

Also, that part about Sicilian street cleaners being able to buy 25 mussels and 10 tomatoes for 60p is bollocks, even in Sicily let alone in the UK.. I dunno where he's getting his prices from, but I know people from down there and 10 tomatoes themselves would probably be around a euro, without even starting on the mussels.. and this from people who grow their own food, eat well etc etc..

And keen as he is to fulfil his gobshite statement quotas for the week, he's added this..

Quote:
Now he told Good Housekeeping, in a joint interview alongside The Great British Bake Off’s Mary Berry: “The average working hours in a week was 80 to 100. That was really normal in my 20s. But the EU regulation now is 48 hours,which is half a week's work for me. And they still whinge about it!

“British kids particularly, I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears!

“I have mummies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, 'My son is too tired'. On a 48-hour-week! Are you having a laugh?”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/jamie-oliver-slams-wet-behind-the-ears-british-youth-who-dont-work-as-hard-as-europeans-8786839.html

Noah Fence
Aug 28 2013 21:32

Ha! My foodie daughter pointed out that on Comrade Oliver's tv show 'Jamie Makes Really Simple Meals Even You Stupid Fat Fucking Plebs Can Cook' it says in the credits that 4 food artists work on the show. That's right, 4!!!
Any chance of 4 food artist Libcommers coming round to my house to smarten up my beans on toast?
Fucking hell, what a toss.

Steven.
Aug 28 2013 21:36

I feel it also needs be pointed out at this juncture that he is also a Mockney twat

Noah Fence
Aug 28 2013 21:54

Who remembers The Naked Chef from about 10 years ago when he used to whiz around Shoredich on his Vespa picking up ingredients and then have hipster parties in his bijou residence, then off to a beach somewhere in his Vdub camber cooking and singing round a campfire like he was in a fucking Jack Johnson video? Too revolting!
Maybe a 'How to kill Jamie Oliver' thread is required? I'm not sure how I would kill him but it would definitely involve Turkey Twizlers.

Joseph Kay
Aug 28 2013 22:03

This piece is also pretty good: http://nyebaron.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/onkas-big-plonka-why-jamie-oliver-is-repulsive/

A quick bit of maths says that 100 hours a week is 14:15 per day (no breaks) 7 days a week. If you take the recommended 8 hours sleep, that leaves 1:45 for commutes, cooking, eating, washing, housework etc. Unless you live very close to work and have someone cooking and doing your washing and ironing that's basically impossible to sustain without seriously cutting down on sleep, which itself is likely to make you a zombie in short order.

If you want one day off a week, 100 hours is 16:40 per day. That leaves 7:20 sleep and you have to teleport to and from work and eat your meals through a straw while you work.

I mean if they want Victorian/Bangladeshi working conditions, maybe they'd get Victorian/Bangladeshi levels of class conflict, and pretty quickly rediscover why limiting the working week was a good idea in the first place. 40 hours is plenty, I'd sooner burn the place down than double my hours.

Harrison
Aug 28 2013 22:12
Steven. wrote:
I feel it also needs be pointed out at this juncture that he is also a Mockney twat

second only to damon albarn

Chilli Sauce
Aug 29 2013 07:46
Quote:
If you take the recommended 8 hours sleep, that leaves 1:45 for commutes, cooking, eating, washing, housework etc. Unless

Ah, come on JK, that's why we have 30 minute meals. You can bust out three of those bad boys in in an hour and 45 minutes.

Or better yet:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/books/jamie-s-15-minute-meals

All that time at work, you're house isn't going to get very dirty anyway. And let's not forget multitasking: work doesn't have to be at the job. You should be working on the train, eating at your desk, having your butler take dictation while you're in the shower.

Bunch a lazy plebs, the lot of you.

Rob Ray
Aug 29 2013 09:06

Battlescarred
Aug 29 2013 09:01

What's perhaps the worst about all of this is how he complains that British workers don't like working the 48(!) hours he wants them to whereas the immigrant workers he employs are fine with this, he says. Hang on, Jamie Oliver is an open supporter of UKIP, which is against immigration and immigrants taking away "British jobs".
Oh and if life is so idyllic in Sicily etc why did these immigrant workers have to come to Britain in the first place to find employment?
Let's hope everyone stops buying his flipping fishcakes now ( that's if you feel you can afford them) and delivers a blow to his bulging pockets.

Caiman del Barrio
Aug 29 2013 10:33

OK so I'm currently staying with a Sicilian chef so I told him about this and he pointed out that Siciliy has a huge culture of foraging fresh fruits & veg. Many people then sell them from the back of their van. He said you could probably get about 5kg of tomatoes for €5. What's the median income in Sicily though? It's dirt poor, and, like Battlescarred says, there's an exodus of especially young people towards other EU countries.

fingers malone
Aug 29 2013 11:35

Also, in Italy and in Spain, a lot of those cheap tasty meals using up stale bread etc take hours to make. Part of the reason people still eat them a lot is because women are still spending hours and hours cooking every day. And yeah, near me I used to see a lot of people rustling lemons from a lemon orchard and then selling them on the street from a blanket.

jef costello
Aug 29 2013 13:05

Great article and good comments.
Reminds me of the very good Jamie Go Home blog from when he was making the stupid TV show.
I think Jamie also forgets that to buy cheap stuff you need time.
Most markets are only open during the day so even if you only work eight hours then that's not possible. And if you stock up at the weekend a lot of it won't last for a whole week, especially the cheap stuff.
He's typical of these entitled people with no real knowledge of the world and certainly not of poverty who think that their easy lives are entirely a result of their own hard work and that anyone who hasn't got what they have then there is no explanation other than laziness.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 29 2013 18:45

Also, a bit of a tangent, but a lot of those discount offers end up discriminating against the poor. Buy one, get one half off: If you're living week-to-week, you probably don't have the money to stock up and it's not like you can buy only one at 75% off the normal price.

Steven.
Aug 30 2013 13:26
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Also, a bit of a tangent, but a lot of those discount offers end up discriminating against the poor. Buy one, get one half off: If you're living week-to-week, you probably don't have the money to stock up and it's not like you can buy only one at 75% off the normal price.

yeah, not just the money but also the space. If you haven't got a big house/flat you don't have room to store huge amounts of stuff

plasmatelly
Aug 30 2013 14:57

Webby wrote -

Quote:
Who remembers The Naked Chef from about 10 years ago when he used to whiz around Shoredich on his Vespa

Scooter nerd alert! This wasn't a Vespa, it was an Aprilia. Means a lot!
Completely agree with most posts... The bloke is a cock.

Noah Fence
Aug 30 2013 15:07
Quote:
Scooter nerd alert! This wasn't a Vespa, it was an Aprilia. Means a lot!

Holy shit! I was actually going to call it a Lambretta but I wasn't sure of the spelling. Once again I've been shown up on Libcom as someone that doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about!!!

This does throw up a question though - Plasmatelly, are you an anarchist mod?

plasmatelly
Aug 30 2013 16:46

I've fallen into my own trap here... This isnt the Jeremy Kyle show and you cant make me talk!

Noah Fence
Aug 30 2013 17:10

Bah, foiled again.

Noah Fence
Aug 31 2013 17:27

Ok, so I checked out Oliver's new book today and can confirm that this guy is off the scale when it comes to not having a fucking clue. The very first thing in the book(well, after a couple of paragraphs of patronising waffle) is a list of 'what you need'. The first thing in this list is, I shit you not, a fucking blender! I know from personal experience that any blender under about 80 quid is pretty much useless. Anyhow, this list is as long as Mr Tickles arm and would cost at least 500 quid and probably the best part of a grand.
As for the recipes, needless to say the 'food artists' have been working overtime and I have to say they looked fucking delicious but the instructions look terrifyingly complicated and time consuming.
Of course there was a healthy sprinkling of 'buy from your local butcher', 'the best food has always been created in times of economic hardship' and similar bollocks. Jesus fucking H!

Seriously, I love good food and from what I saw this is good food, but this guy is so divorced from reality, such a hypocrite and generally full of shit. EVERYONE should be able to eat good food and this knobhead seems to think that everyone can if only they could be bothered. Aaagghhh!
This book is for the Waitrosie(new word and I'm claiming copyright) that need to save a few quid for their upcoming eco glamping trip and not for the people he so patronisingly says its for. Wanker.

snipfool
Sep 1 2013 13:32
Webby wrote:
Ok, so I checked out Oliver's new book today and can confirm that this guy is off the scale when it comes to not having a fucking clue. The very first thing in the book(well, after a couple of paragraphs of patronising waffle) is a list of 'what you need'. The first thing in this list is, I shit you not, a fucking blender! I know from personal experience that any blender under about 80 quid is pretty much useless.

Someone got me the 30 minute meals book last year. Virtually every recipe requires a food processor.

plasmatelly
Sep 1 2013 14:46

Ersatz was created in times of economic hardship. It's an appretif to canabalism.

Fleur
Sep 1 2013 19:55

If anything, at least it's gratifying that now everyone else thinks that Jamie Oliver is an annoying little twonk and that it's no longer the minority view.

There are so many issues around the subject but I think Jamie Oliver is a symptom of a very messed up relationship to food that we've developed as a culture. I'm sure that human beings have been feeding themselves competently for a really long time without the need for celebrity chefs, ever more expensive kitchen equipment, a rainforest-worth of trees to provide us with endless new recipe books. I would never have imagined a few years ago that people would be watching competitive baking - I've worked in bakeries, I didn't really see it as game-show material. It's gone from being a necessity of life and simple pleasure to share a meal with someone to an gigantic industry to gauge money out of, to judge people on what they eat, a place to find some of the worse kinds of snobbery. The idea that people will be tuning into Jamie Oliver to have a gawk and a snigger while Mr Buffalo Mozzarella enlightens the proles how to be a frugal foodie is pretty revolting.

Webby: Waitrosie - bloody brilliant. I will be shamelessly stealing and using that one.

blackwillow1
Sep 1 2013 22:05

I've noticed a pattern forming since 2010. We had uberdull Gary Barlow, doing a cabaret set and telling a crowd of apolitical sheep, "We've godda get the defecit down folks. Right then, time for me to show how average I am as a singer!" We had Alan Titchmarsh having a little tizzy about economic mismanagement(remember, it's all Labours fault), then the parade of courageous, edgey comedians on mock the week, who tore into Gordon Brown for everything from being Scottish(racism?) to having one good eye,(disability hate?) then looking smug because they called Cameron a tosser! Yeah, living dangerously. A whole host of not-especially talented or even likeable shlebs have put their flag up,"over here, safe bet, I won't rock the boat, please promote me as a 'role model!" And Jamie Oliver? No different, wether it's books, blenders, albums, tv shows, perfume, clothing or whatever. They crave the attention, they really want the money and they'd sell their souls to hang on to it. Fuck the lot of 'em! Let's get the revolution started, if for no other reason than to rid ourselves of this epidemic of bland, gutless shite they call celebrity culture.

freemind
Apr 18 2014 10:57

Just a prime example of the extreme deep seated but very refined class war waged against the poor by the ilk this decadent dog belongs to!
They patronise us and delight in flaunting their theft in front of us and tell us what to eat while our class bows its head and goes to the Food Bank or falls prey to their legalised loan sharks and fear merchants.
They humiliate us and mock us by imitating our accents and language.Notice how in the last couple of years Celebrities and Reporters have stopped using the term isn't and reverted to "it ain't" for example.
I suffer from Epilepsy and Asthma and applied for Disability and was told that if I could walk unaided I wasn't eligible!
Oliver and his ilk are symptomatic of the most extreme form of bigotry,Class bigotry and every time you see that go by runts vista 2 words come to mind SCUM and DIE.

Noah Fence
May 18 2014 06:33

On perusing the new UK Richlist, I note that Comrade Oliver is now worth £240'000'000. Presumably this will be used to distribute blenders and food processors to the proletariat? Or perhaps his book that he so kindly wrote to teach us poor folk how to eat well will now be published for free? Er, or maybe not.

I also note from recent pictures that he doesn't seem to be following his own dietary advice. I guess piling up the dosh doesn't leave him much time for cooking? For some reason I now have in my mind the image of Oliver as a sort of latter day mockney Henry the Eighth, gorging himself on Turkey Twizzlers and throwing the packets over his shoulder!

You lot once told me that anarchism isn't about finger pointing or demonizing individuals but you can all fuck off!!! A curse on this vile, patronising, greasy blob of human slime.

Benzo89
Sep 6 2015 11:23

Jamie Oliver is a nice person. He has had a great affect on some of the schools in the U.S and changed how they serve food. This has lead to many of the poorest kids now getting healthy meals at school as opposed to turkey twizzlers and greasy crap.

When I was (and still am) living below the poverty line someone bought me his easy meals book and it changed my diet for the better, it got me to focus on how to actually budget my food money to make smart decisions, eating healthily isn't something only the poor can do.

I went out and bought:

Frozen peas
Frozen peppers
Frozen mixed veggies
Some fish and meat which I froze
Pasta
Stock cubes
Rice
Eggs
Wholemeal bread

This would last over a week, costs less than the junk I was buying and helped me get healthy. This lead to me feeling better, thus spurning me on to start exercising etc.

My inability to eat healthily while earning minimum wage wasn't because I was poor, it was because I was being a dope. Jamie Oliver got me and my family interested in food and health and helped us a lot. I feel like slamming him because he was born into economic security is a bit mean and pointless. Some poor people simply don't manage their money well, like me, blaming their poor diets on lack of money isn't realistic in my opinion.

Benzo89
Sep 6 2015 11:45
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Also, a bit of a tangent, but a lot of those discount offers end up discriminating against the poor. Buy one, get one half off: If you're living week-to-week, you probably don't have the money to stock up and it's not like you can buy only one at 75% off the normal price.

This is a good point. However I think there are ways to get round stuff like this, especially if you shop at a big supermarket. I would find out when they get their new fresh produce in and then go in the day before and can some awesome deals. I got a whole salmon for £5 one time, got them to cut it into portions, kept the head and backbone for broth.

Another great way to get around poverty budgeting is to buy loose potatoes, carrots, turnips etc. For around £3 you can get enough for a weeks worth of stews, soups and other meals. I think a big problem is when us poor people try and start eating healthily we tend to overdo it and start buying non essential shit. Before you know it you are blowing your budget.

At the end of the day calories in v out is what determines weight gain or loss and a simple balanced diet gives you all the vitamins and minerals you need, so while I can appreciate those of us below the poverty line can't eat like kings every night, no one is fat because they are poor, they are fat because they consume too many calories.