By Marjorie MacDonald
I did not get the opportunity to blog this weekend because I have been sick. The only good thing about that was that I wasn’t hungry, which made it a bit easier to cope. On Friday, however (Day 3), I thought a lot about how challenging it is to eat a healthy diet on such a low income. Although I have been able to include some fruits and vegetables, the most nutritious foods are out of my price range. There is no way to eat “organic” and if you want to eat meat, forget about buying meat that comes from animals not raised with hormones and antibiotics – you pay a premium for that. Meat, in fact, is a luxury that would be pretty difficult to afford on a daily basis. If you have any kind of health problem, it actually does become impossible to eat appropriately. Cheaper foods are often calorie dense, with low fibre and nutrients. Anyone living in poverty with a chronic condition, like diabetes, is going to be at very high risk for adverse health consequences. No wonder the illness and death rates are so high among the poor.
On Saturday afternoon, I dragged myself out of my sick bed to make some bean soup for dinner, thinking it would be a good nutritious meal that I could eat for several days. Variety on $26.00 a week? Forget it. My soup included mixed beans, water, two Oxo cubes, onions and carrots, and on preliminary tasting, was quite delicious. The Oxo cubes I used were pretty high in salt content so not so great for my high blood pressure, but did contribute to the good taste. Being sick, I laid down to rest while waiting for it to cook. This was a big mistake because I promptly fell asleep, waking up to the odor of something burning. OMG – it was the soup! And yes, it was badly scorched. I managed to scoop off the top layer of the soup and put it into another pot. It was heartbreaking to have to throw out about half the soup. What was left tasted scorched. There was no longer enough to last for 3 or 4 days, but I could still get about 2 meals out of it. This kind of an event for those who are not poor might be annoying and frustrating, but for a person living in poverty, this would be a disaster that could mean hunger for the rest of the week. For me, I can look forward to Wednesday when this food challenge will end, but there is no end in sight for those living on social assistance.
– Learn more about Rasie the Rates’ Welfare Food Challenge and how you can get involved in raising public awareness about the inadequacy of welfare rates and the costs of poverty in British Columbia.
BC Poverty Reduction Coalition: http://bcpovertyreduction.ca/
Welfare Food Challenge: http://welfarefoodchallenge.org/