Remembering Privilege

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First off, I’d like to thank Plant Based on a Budget supporters for your constant support, kind words and wonderful feedback. We donate all of our free time to this blog …  and personally speaking, your kind words of encouragement keep me motivated to continue.

Through this blog, I have become incredibly interested in fresh food access issues and lack of nutrition education in low-income and communities of color. I remain heavily focused on animal advocacy and I believe that is absolutely imperative to know where your food came from, but part of my attention has definitely shifted to the unfortunate state of hunger and poor health in our community. I have had the pleasure of connecting with some  readers of this blog who are truly forced to live on a very tight budget, and to be honest, that group of people specifically keeps me inspired to use the privileges and knowledge that I have to educate anyone who will listen about the importance of making plant based food accessible.

Although I try to keep the positive feedback and heart-felt stories in mind, I occasionally let the negative comments get the best of me. Last night as I was watching A Place at the TableI found myself becoming more and more disappointed in some of the comments that we received about our meal plans. Of course I believe that everyone has the right to their own food preferences, but it was absolutely unnecessary for people to e-mail letting me know how “ripped off” they were by my FREE meal plans, telling me that I set them up for failure, calling Terrence out for using food in cans, e-mailing me to say that I don’t follow a plant-based diet because I use Earth Balance, and the list goes on and on and on. Not only that, but the movie also made me reflect upon some of the comments that were from people who were very privileged and probably don’t even recognize it. Many comments were along the lines of, “I’d rather spend extra money than … [shop in a bad neighborhood], [eat food in a can], [eat white foods/ processed foods/ etc]” — those comments were all most likely meant to be harmless, but they are extremely insensitive to those who don’t have the luxury of spending extra money to avoid “bad” neighborhoods people were referring to (which they most likely live in), or processed foods.

I think it is extremely easy to forget the privileges that you have in life. I encourage you to check out your local food bank and ask some questions about the types of foods that are available to those without homes — I guarantee a large majority comes from BPA cans, when you drive through an underserved neighborhood check to see what grocery stores are available, volunteer at your local chapter of Food Not Bombs, and lastly, reflect on the advantages you have in life (sanity, support from family and friends, shelter, income) — doing that always helps me put things into perspective.

A Place at the Table – I highly recommend watching it. It’s available to watch instantly on netflix and I know that it is available to rent at my local library:

From Wikipedia:  “As of 2012, about 50 million Americans were food insecure. This was approximately 1 in 6 of the overall population, with the proportion of children facing food insecurity even higher at about 1 in 4. One in every two children receive federal food assistance.[5][6] The film sees directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine the issue of hunger in America, largely through the stories of three people suffering from food insecurity:

  • Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two children;
  • Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and
  • Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health problems are exacerbated by the largely-empty calories her hard-working mother can afford.

Other Americans struggling with hunger are also featured, including a cop whose monthly paychecks only leaves him enough money to buy food for two weeks, forcing him to use a food bank[6] A Place at the Table shows how hunger poses serious economic, social, and cultural implications for the United States, and that the problem can be solved once and for all, if the American public decides – as they have in the past – that making healthy food available and affordable is in everyone’s best interest.”

Also, I recommend checking out information about food assistance programs. You have to make virtually nothing to qualify for a very small amount of food money, and from all the people I’ve personally known to receive government help, they say that it is made to be a very demeaning process. It reminds me of The Clash song Know Your Rights, “You have the right to food money. Providing, of course, you don’t mind a little investigation, humiliation … and if you cross your fingers … rehabilitation!”.

These are your rights. Know them.