Last week an article appeared on the BBC news site with the headline “How to eat healthily on £1 a day“.
A cynic might say that the article set out to alleviate the guilt of wealthier people about the hardships endured by the poor, and to provide an answer to the ludicrous public debate about whether someone can actually live on £53 per week. After all, if you can eat healthily on £1 a day, what could all these people who are having their benefits cut possibly be moaning about?
But wait! A detailed takedown of the article posted at Aethelread the Unread appears to support an alternative conclusion, namely that it is in fact a load of codswallop.
The big problem is that the writer, Brian Milligan, is pricing his food items in a completely unrealistic way, with individual leafs of lettuce, say, coming in at 4p. Now I can remember being at school and hearing how some of my wayward colleagues were able to buy individual cigarettes for 20p as opposed to entire packets for £2, but the last I checked this sort of thing wasn’t going on in supermarkets. Surely Milligan wasn’t able to go into a shop, hand over 4p, then walk away with a lettuce leaf? Surely he actually has to spend a lot more than that to acquire a whole lettuce? This kind of erroneous calculation appears throughout the entire piece:
A 50g can of anchovies costing 79p is factored into his budget at 16p for 10g, and the remaining 40g simply vanish. Or perhaps he feeds them to a magical cat that defecates coins to the value of the food it eats – that’s one way of explaining how he doesn’t have to account for the money he spends on food he doesn’t eat.
All in all the amount he would really have spent works out at just under £40, nearly 8 times his original budget. I recommend you go read the entire thing, it’s a brilliant expose of a misleading and insidious piece of journamalism.