Check your Privilege

“What do you think”? I asked the work bestie expectedly, after I’d finished reading him ‘My week of spending £1-a-day on food’ article, in the September issue of Be Kind magazine www.bekindmagazine.com

“It’s good, style over content” he replied. What a back handed compliment if ever I’d heard one ha ha; if he weren’t my work bestie, I’d give him a back hand! “I just mean you are privileged enough to eat for £1 a day”; he continued. Andy went on to point out that I’m employed, which not only means that I have a regular wage but that I can raid the office fridge for anything going spare, food that has been forgotten about. I have friends, family who will invite me over for dinner, sub me if need be, offer surplus foods; including him of course who supplies me with his allotment goodies. He went on to say that shopping for reduced price foods, utilising what is going spare goes a way to addressing food waste, but my reality is different to those who are without friends, family, income, having to rely on state benefits, food banks, handouts.

Andy’s words kept playing on my mind, probably because I knew that he was right. I am in a privileged position and shop, eat in the way that I do out of choice, not necessity. I’ve not had to worry about where my next meal is coming from, I’ve not known what it means to truly feel hunger. Recently, whilst hanging around the bakery aisle, waiting to nab a yellow sticker birthday cake for my mum, I mentioned to a fellow raider that I work as a civil servant. He remarked how many more people he was coming across waiting on reductions who were in relatively successful, well paid careers. “We all need to eat and we all want to save money” I told him, which is true but he was hinting at a social class divide that I’d perhaps not paid much attention to.

The mere fact that I drive and have a car, has a huge impact on my accessibility to food. The luxury of being able to drive to the store as and when I want to check out bargains, the ability to collect food from food sharing app Olio in my local area, nearby work. I’ve not had to rely on another financially or otherwise, to eat. I make the decisions as to what, how and when I eat. I remember offering an apple to a homeless woman who politely declined it as she had missing teeth. I’ve always been able to take dental care, and my diet for granted. I don’t even recall having my wisdom tooth removed causing much of a barrier to my eating!

According to FareShare, 8.4 million people in the UK are struggling to afford to eat. This is equivalent to the entire population of London https://fareshare.org.uk

The biggest food struggle that I’m having today is finding a vegan eatery in Finsbury Park to lunch with a friend!

The same friend told me of a TV programme a while ago on homelessness. She was laughing at how a passer-by had offered a homeless man a box of mushrooms “I mean what’s he going to do with them” she asked with exasperation. Having a kitchen, regular supply of gas, electricity, the utilities to prepare, cook our own food are luxuries that many of us take for granted. The ability to cook for ourselves, understand food, diet, nutrition, to even be able to spend the time contemplating such issues.

There is a saying that privilege is invisible to those who have it, which is why we all need an Andy to point it out to us every now again. If we are unable to check our privilege, count our blessings, express gratitude how can we empathise with those less fortunate. How will we stop to take note of who is standing next to us at the checkout, or sat in a doorway begging as we walk by. If we are unable to appreciate how valuable a commodity food is then why would we refrain ourselves from binning it. If we do not recognise our blessings, comfort, security, and only pay attention to our struggles, then it becomes all to easy vilify those who aspire to have the same. If we cannot see when we occupy an elevated platform how will we know to extend a helping hand to those beneath it.

There are some privileges in life which are fixed; gender, race, academic history, our ancestors. Others can change in any given circumstances. Our jobs, income, relationships, accommodation, health, mobility. And we will then seek help from those more fortunate than us, let us be privileged enough not to lose sight of that.

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Food Run

The Big Half marathon 10/03/2019

I remember running much of this route when I ran London marathon in 2017. During that race, running half a marathon was put to the back of my mind whilst I focused on when the race would really start; mile 20.

I remember still smiling through the rain when I ran my first London race, the British 10K in the summer of 2012; this morning it was high speed winds.

I remember my sister warning that I’d be sick as I tucked into a buffet breakfast ahead of Florence marathon. I wasn’t sick and nor was I today after eating a veggie burger bap enroute to the start line; not that I recommend either of these fuelling practices!

I remember when today’s finish time would have filled me with frustration and disappointment. Today I was high as a kite with what seems to be me turning a corner from an iron deficiency.

I remember so many highs and lows of running from over the years. Going back to school sports days; I was the reigning 100 metre champion in my year I’ll have you know! What I don’t remember is ever going hungry. I don’t mean the self induced hunger to drop a dress size in a week. Or on the commute home when dinner is so near yet still too far. Nor do I mean the many times that I’ve exclaimed I’m starving and demanded to be fed immediately.

I mean the hunger of not knowing when, or if, you’ll next eat. Having to make a choice between food and another essential. Having limited choices of the foods that you eat. I’ve never known the physical pain that comes with hunger. I’ve never known weight loss as a window to my deprivation.

It’s the remembering how fortunate that I am to run and have food choices which led me to run The Big Half marathon for food waste/food poverty charity The Felix Project. And what a fantastic day it was. One that I won’t forget in a hurry!

Check out their link below and see how you can get involved:-

http://thefelixproject.org

You can also find me on social media – follow me on:-
www.facebook.com/reductionraider1
www.instagram.com/reduction_raider1

Karma

Karma: the principle of retributive justice determining a person’s state of life and the state of his or her reincarnations as the effect of past deeds. (www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.collinsdictionary.com/amp/english/karma)

Karma: a Swedish startup founded in Stockholm, November 2016. The app connects surplus food from restaurants, cafes and grocery stores to consumers for a lower price. As a result, users eat great food for less and businesses receive an additional revenue stream — all while reducing food waste. (https://karma.life)

Karma: I receive £5 credit from the Karma app, I use £2.49 to collect Teriyaki Tofu served on sushi rice with kamameshi sauce, edamame, leeks and pickled radish from EatFirst for dinner; restaurant style, healthy gourmet meals which you heat in the microwave. On my way home, I unwittingly drive through the congestion zone and get stung for the £11.50 charge. Now the what actual Karma is this?!

I’m full of first world problems, I could list them daily; the steam room is currently out of action at my health club, my running times are not what they used to be, I forgot that I had cut price tomatoes and now they are mouldy. It’s astonishing that food waste has become such a first world problem; I don’t like that I’ll bin it, I don’t want to eat that twice I’ll bin it, the restaurant portions are too large let them bin it, we need to overstock sandwiches in the interest of custom, if they don’t sell we’ll bin them.

Have we lost sight that in third world countries people regularly die of starvation. 98% of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries (https://www.thp.org/knowledge-center/know-your-world-facts-about-hunger-poverty/)

We don’t even need to go that far afield, most of us would have walked past at least one person today who cannot afford to eat. Someone without the same choices as us. You see most of us are in a position to make informed choices daily as to how we spend our money, what we eat, what we invest in. Some of our decisions will inevitably be more ethical than others and our privilege influences than that.

By using the Karma app you choose to save money on a meal, you choose what you buy, you choose to reduce food waste. Businesses such as EatFirst choose to operate with a social consciousness, reduce landfill, whilst still generating a revenue. We all make choices as to what sort of world we want to live in.

Let me know what you choose from

http://karma.life

Good Food for Good Causes

I first came across The Felix Project in the summer of 2017. A wellness event that I attended were donating their proceeds to The Felix Project and being curious I looked them up online. It sounded like a cool concept; a charity which collected surplus food that would otherwise be wasted, and redistributed to homeless shelters. At the time, I was interested in volunteering with a food waste/food poverty charity which would allow me to cook on premises. I figured it would be a good way of improving my culinary skills whilst helping others, so thought The Felix Project wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

A week or so later, I was in Sainsbury’s, on a yellow sticker shop, when I spotted a flyer for The Felix Project and noticed that they had a warehouse in North West London, which was easy enough for me to get to. Taking this as a sign, I thought what have I got to lose by getting in touch with them, so I did. I couldn’t make their induction day so development manager Anne suggested that I co-drive a route and see how I got on. It was great; driver Ross was good company, we took in the sights of West London, whilst collecting from places like Gail’s Bakery and dropping the food off to hostels. It was really humbling seeing first hand where the food was delivered to, and knowing that many of these people were waiting on us to eat. I can’t imagine having to be dependent on others for my next meal. Grenfell Tower was in full view as we drove over the Westway; if there was ever a time we were invoked to come together as a community this was it.

Some weeks later when Anne asked if I was available to drive, I thought she’d lost her damn mind. I mean I reckon myself a pretty decent driver but I wasn’t a van driver. She invited me to the warehouse before the shift to take my licence details and to go on a test drive. “I don’t know what you was worrying about, you are doing great” she said, and she was right, I had been fretting unnecessarily. The vans are a breeze to drive and made all the more easier with the introductions of zipvans, electric vehicles; they even offer walking and cycling routes.

I’ve volunteered as driver and co driver regularly since 2017. Having the flexibility of booking in for shifts, as and when I’m available, works really well for me being able to fit it in around work and other commitments and has lent itself to my still being motivated 18 months later. Aside from being out on routes, there are opportunities to volunteer in the warehouse. I’ve volunteered at events and am on The Felix Project team running The Big Half marathon in March; raising money and awareness.

They really are a fantastic charity who are so appreciative of any help that they receive and look after their volunteers; you’ve not eaten until you’ve attended a Felix Project party and of course taking home a doggy bag is encouraged. You see food and our need to eat is what we all have in common; it’s a basic human function that cuts across gender, race, class, religion. Unfortunately, social disadvantage can too easily affect our access to food and allow too many to go hungry.

It was Felix’s upset that there were children at his football tournament who hadn’t eaten that day which inspired the project, after his death, in his memory. The Felix Project’s mission of lessening food waste and poverty is what keeps it going. Knowing I’ve never regretted undertaking a shift is what makes me sign up for the next. What will be your reason for sparing some time for this cause?

Sign up to volunteer with The Felix Project.

http://thefelixproject.org/help-us/volunteer