We are what we eat. The Canada Food Guide has been around pretty much forever and the latest iteration offers a chance to reflect. It’s a well-meaning attempt to, well, make life better. Over the years it has been adjusted to reflect medical findings about sugar and fat, portion sizes and such. What we really need to get our heads around is that poverty interferes with good eating.
The public health authority for Hamilton, Ontario released a report in November about local food security. For many Hamiltonians, it comes down to cost and there is concern about the province looking to reduce its monitoring efforts in this area.
Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed in today’s Toronto Star. The paper sent a writer to work at a large industrial bakery in Toronto recently. Her findings should shock us.
Wages are low. The pace is fast. Safety is a hit-and-miss affair in a profitable establishment making bread products for corporate clients. There has been loss of life at the plant where most of the workers are female newcomers. Their employer has received grants, loans and praise from the government. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board gives them rebates. Through their lawyer the owners say that safety is important.
Temps pick their wages up in cash at a payday lending office thirty-five minutes away by bus. Their employer drives a Bentley and lives in a mansion.
On Twitter alone, mentions of this feature have grown steadily all day. This feature deserves a wide audience and is exactly the kind of reportage the Star should be coming up with.
Nearly a week was required just to get a basic description together of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005. Assessing Hurricane Harvey won’t be any easier. If Katrina is the template we know that lower income and racialized groups will be bearing the brunt of this, big time.
An item from Thursday’s Washington Post is a good starting point regarding this multi-layered event and its consequences.
As with food and fuel we can attach hygiene to the word poverty more easily than we like. Making poverty a plural may be pushing it a little at the moment but if we continue with our present economic systems we might just have to. This UK item squares with our observations of a busy drop in centre in the Greater Toronto Area where personal care supplies were always very popular.