Austerity cooking has been hijacked by the moralisers. (Comment is free, The Guardian)




To read the full article, Austerity cooking has been hijacked by the moralisers, click here. Published in Comment Is Free, The Guardian, 28 August 2013.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at

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Categories: Blog


    • I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that the Guardian managed to spell the words correctly 😉

  1. It’s infuriating – you were forced to use your cooking knowledge and skills to enable you to feed yourself and your child on an almost impossibly small amount. For most, it would literally be an impossibly small amount. So you shared those skills and that knowledge in recipes to help others, in between campaigning to try to stop such impossibly small amounts being all anyone has.

    Somehow this has been hijacked on the one side to claim the money is ample, and on the other to pretend you’re lending extreme poverty acceptability.

    There is no glamour in poverty. It’s a horrible, dreary, relentless grind. But what would people rather? That you sat on your knowledge and allowed parents up and down the land to suffer narrowly-avoidable malnutrition, instead?

    Keep on keeping on, Jack. You are probably saving more people than you will ever know from nights of hunger. And you’re probably helping a lot of low income working people budget way better, too. That matters more than well-paid journalists posturing on issues they will never truly understand.

  2. Sorry,Jack, but you’re wrong and you’ve f*%ked up a great opportunity to both expand your following and get your recipes out to more people who need them.

      • I realise that and i read the article on The Guardian website. I’m commenting about this whole Jamie Oliver thing and how you have mishandled it – including reposting this article. It’s time to stop acting like a petty, squabbling, opposition politician and time to step up and be a strong leader this movement needs. FFS, stop picking fights with every celebrity chef who dares to try an austerity recipe and try asking them for help (whilst at the same time educating them about the realities of austerity cooking as you see it). You’ll get much better results and your message will reach more people. This whole angry bird persona isn’t helping you.

      • Richard – I’d have lambasted an airline pilot or army general that made the same ‘massive fucking tellys’ comment. It wasn’t about food – it was about someone in JOs position reinforcing damaging stereotypes.

        PS – I read your private message, and as a completely skint freelancer, when a national newspaper commissions you to write an opinion piece, you do it. I didn’t approach the Indy, they approached me. It could have been worse; they weren’t the only broadcaster – but I turned the other newspapers and the TV news down, because I didn’t want to blow it all up ‘too much’. However, I think he needed to be knocked back in his box for certain comments he made, and so I wrote the piece for the Indy. I should hope that if I ever lost touch with reality and started lambasting a certain social group with one big ugly brush, that some gobby little shit would tear strips off me too. (JL piece not relevant – she reinvented my life history and wrote it off as cosy frugality, so I responded.)

        I didn’t expect to get this angry, this often, this week – but remember I’m a freelance writer these days, so I’ll crop up every now and again with an article that people may or may not agree with when I’m asked to write one. It’s not about Jamie being a chef, or even a celebrity – its about reinforcing stereotypes that dont help anyone. He can help people to save, budget, and educate, without slurs and demonisation. Making people feel like shit is a sure fire way to turn them off your message.

    • Richard
      If you can’t comment without swearing then p’raps you shouldn’t have such a well paid job

      • LOL. I haven’t had a “job” since January 2001. Whilst I’m bragging, i’ll get in that I don’t have a GCSE, A-Level or degree to my name either. Yet, somehow, i’m in my mid 30’s, debt free and spend my summers living in house I renovated by hand in the French countryside. I have a collection of Omega watches, ride a £5000 bicycle and visit Starbucks twice a day when I’m back in the UK. I’m writing this post from the top of Notre Dame de Paris. Rather than questioning my choice of colourful language, perhaps you should focus more on the message. In life, we learn more from those who think and act differently, than those clapping seals who serve only to re-inforce our existing opinions. And for Jack, I’m the friend of Kendal.

  3. I’m not really happy about the way the guardian are couching this; from what i’ve read and understood, you’re not making poverty, or cheap food, fashionable. You trying to get people to acknowledge the first, and those suffering from it to adopt the second. lots of people don’t seem to understand where you have been in your journey and the pain you’ve been through, and even the left wing media are putting labels on you because of your skin colour, looks, and perceived job. I’m pretty right of centre, but understand, how painful poverty and unemployment can be, and rightly feel that the left of centre media should be less judgmental and critical about your efforts to change the way food and poverty are seen,
    Keep up the good work Jack, and fight the good fight; imo, you are making a difference because people in all walks of life, are talking about you and your quest!!!

  4. I think that this has blown up because there is a fundamental misunderstanding about poverty among many left-leaning middle class people. Poverty is not a ‘lifestyle choice’, nor is it something that can be seen as akin to ‘simplicity’. I do know: although I am a lawyer now, I grew up in a single parent household where we didn’t know from week to week whether we would be able to pay the rent. I wore the same indian cotton skirt every single day from the ages of about 10 to 14 (until my gran took pity on us and bought us some new clothes!). Now, as a grown up professional, I am inspired by the idea of simple living – reusing things and not being wasteful (including with food); growing veggies etc etc. That is my ‘lifestyle choice’, and I would never tell anyone on benefits or who has fallen into very hard times that they should get rid of their tv and start a community garden (because, oh yeah, they can’t exactly grow vegetables in a council flat!). I admire you so much, Jack, and say to all these people who wouldn’t know poverty if they fell over it: go and read, for example, the excellent work by Barbara Ehrenreich on poverty in the US (e.g. Nickle and Dimed). And read your work, dear Jack, and try and understand. BTW, I recently saw two other, interesting articles on the Guardian website: one of them stated that the proportion of children living below the poverty line in the UK varies (depending on which deprived area you look at) between 20% and 50% or even more. That is truly shocking. The second article had links to lectures that might ‘change your life’. One of the lectures – given by an academic expert on these things – maintained that, where there is enormous inequality in society, everyone is worse off – including the rich. That is, even the rich live shorter lives etc etc.

    Keep at it, Jack. You are making a difference, and getting these issues discussed much more widely. So don’t be disheartened by people trying to ‘hijack’ your cause – at least it’s getting out there. Most of the media will just do what they will… And, I do agree with you on the JO thing: he’s going beyond his brief.

    • It’s just the state of the world. The comfy well to do Middle class see things from their own rather skewed perspective and think because they are educated and Middle class and all-seeing and all-knowing and etc feel they have a right to pass sentence on those they perceive to be beneath them. Some people are lucky; they are brought up in affluence, they know no poverty, the have a comfortable existence from birth to death. Others are not so lucky. On top of that comes class prejudice, racism, homophobia, North-South divides, and so many other things that make one person feel superior to someone else. These things always manifest themselves in the real world and do affect people negatively. What’s sad is that not only do people at the bottom suffer, even the exploiters and bigots suffer to by being unhappy and small minded and prejudiced. I have come from a poor background, suffered at times severe depression, low self worth, unhappiness and so many other negative things and on top of this am judged because of my class, accent and where I come from. Yet I have found that it is always better to treat others with kindness and respect. In the end, the buck stops with us.

      I have found also that it’s only when a condemning and bigoted person, especially someone from an affluent and privileged background, suffers themselves in some way or loses their job or something unpleasant happens, for the first time they might understand what many poor less privileged people have to endure for huge chunks of their lives. Hating others is never the answer. and all prejudice is a form of hate however it is concealed or cleverly or eloquently presented.

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