Could you live on just £1 a day? The figure (well, $1.25 to be exact) was set by the World Bank as being the definition of 'extreme poverty'. Right now, around 1.4 billion people globally live in such extreme poverty. Think about it. Imagine having to pay for EVERYTHING out of £1 a day?
But what I've become conscious of lately is that hunger is a growing problem even in places like the UK. I have been reading the incredibly inspiring and also, in parts, heart-breaking blog of A Girl Called Jack, who has to survive on a £10 per week food budget. I found out that author, Jack Monroe, was participating in the Live Below the Line challenge - where you agree to live on £1 a day for five days, to get a (very) small sense of what extreme poverty feels like, and to raise awareness for it. So I decided to sign up myself.
I'll be honest, I have heard about the challenge before but didn't delve too much into it, must have been one of my here-there-and-everywhere days! But with reading Jack's blog and also recently looking into some of the political issues which contribute to hunger and starvation (such as mega-corporations tax dodging in poor countries that need that money the most), I am feeling like we people really have to start taking action.
The fact is, that NO ONE should go hungry in 2013, because there is enough food in the world for everyone.
But while massive corporations are trying to steal all of the world's food production and globally control it, while we feed grain to animals to turn them into meat to feed the West (it takes 3kg of grain to produce just 1kg of meat), while big banks speculate on food prices driving them out of the reach of the poorest people in the world, and while the West criminally waste and throw away mountains of perfectly edible food, millions and millions of children are dying of malnutrition.
So - in attempting to get people to be more conscious of this, and raise funds for a hunger charity, that is why I have decided to take up this challenge. The charity I have chosen to support is going to be Action Against Hunger, who do brilliant work helping communities by providing them with access to clean water, and supporting families to achieve self-sufficiency, with a commitment to end child hunger. And 89p in the £1 goes to the people who need it.
Would you be so kind as to make a donation and sponsor me for my challenge?https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/chocolateandbeyond
The plan for my Live Below the Line challenge:
Okay - so my challenge is going to start on 25th June, and end on the 29th June. I will probably spend my £5 worth of food mostly at once, and then separate my food out over the five days.
I will blog about how I'm getting on, and what I'm going to be eating and cooking. I think the fact that I am vegan, and used to cooking with beans, rice, lentils etc will make it easier for me than others, but I know it is going to be a struggle. I anticipate living off just porridge oats and rice the last day or so.
I am, of course, going to take some tips from Jack Monroe, and her 'Below the Line' recipes. And thankfully, I don't smoke, and I can get by without wine, but tea - yes, I need to allocate some of my budget for tea-bags! I will work out what they cost per bag, and take out some of my budget. I envisage reusing tea-bags to get more from them.
From late June, watch this space to see how I get on with my challenge, and what I'm eating.
Thank you so much.
Ethical consumption: how can we make changes?
Aside from donating money to those who are trying to campaign and end the causes of hunger, how can each of us make a difference? Well, there are many more things we can be doing as individuals to be more conscious, and live more ethically in order to have a 'butterfly effect' and be the change we want to see.
For us all to play a small part in helping the hungry, or helping the planet or reduce our own food waste, these are the things we can be doing:
1. Okay, you knew I was going to say this - but we must stop eating animals and animal products. The UN has been urging us to do this for several years. Not only will that help people and animals, reducing catastrophic demand for precious water resources and redirecting grain consumption back to people, it will help the planet, since animal agriculture is one of the leading factors in climate change. And if anyone wants some personal mentorship on going vegan, let me know!
2. We can start becoming far more conscious about our own food waste and use. Don't buy more than you need, don't throw away anything, plan meals and shopping carefully, use food before it goes off, compost scraps or feed to your dogs (as what happens in my case!), make vegetable stock with peelings and carrot tops, and so on. Cook and freeze, if you have to, but don't waste food.
3. We can pull out of the big banks who are key players in hunger. The big banks are speculating on food prices, where food has become a trade commodity. This is to earn themselves billions while pushing the prices of food out of the reach of the poorest people, even making people on moderate incomes struggle to buy healthy food. Don't give them your business. You can find some alternatives from the big banks on Move Your Money.
4. As far as is practical, we can avoid shopping at the huge supermarkets. They are wiping out small businesses and local farmers. Instead look at shopping locally, and eating 'real' food as opposed to processed and convenience food. I know it's not always easy to avoid supermarkets, and I do use them myself (like for soya milk, though I favour Aldi), but I try to support local food outlets, co-operatives and farmer's markets where and when I can. The sad fact is, the major supermarkets have got us by the short and curlies. They have helped make people poor, wiped out businesses, and then they offer cheap food that is cheaper then elsewhere, so you become dependent on them.
5. We can research more about who actually controls our food production, and start taking action. We need to make a stand against the big corporations like Monsanto that are effectively trying to control the world, through food (please sign this petition against Monsanto patenting seeds in Europe, while you are here!). This is the truth, and people need to start doing something about before it is completely beyond our hands. Food sovereignty is what we can learn about and aim for. Look for sustainable food initiatives in your area. People in Manchester, for example, can find out more through the Feeding Manchester organisation.
There IS enough food for everyone in the world. No one should be hungry. No one should have to live on $1.25 a day. No one should be watching their child dieof malnutrition and starvation in their arms. We have to change things so everyone has the chance of life.
Please sponsor me for my Live Below the Line challenge: