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May 14, 2011


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No, you are right DG the better off people are the lower the percentage, that's why the figures I was working with were for the poorest, but your point is still valid.

For the better off, food accounts for more like 6% of their budget.


I'm a bit sceptical of comparisons of budget percentage spends between the 1850s and today. If budgets were insufficient to meet a decent standard of living, then food, being the most pressing essential, would obviously get first priority in spending decisions, meaning it would take up a higher percentage of income by default.

Eg, a family has £200 to last a month. They spend £100 on food, the rest on the rent/mortgage and don't pay the electricity bill this month. Food takes up 50% of their budget.

Next month, mum or dad get a job. The family have £500 to spend. They spend £150 on better-quality and more plentiful food, and use the rest to pay the mortgage/rent, pay the red electricity bill (just in time!) and put a little aside for next month's bills and Christmas. Food now takes up only 30% of the family budget.

But it doesn't mean they're not prioritising food as much.


'Why has she deserted us? Hope it's nothing we said. I have never had a clue who s/he is.'

I don't think so Paul. I expect she found that her lies were wearing thin. In the possibility that she reads this I would be happy to see her contributing again for the lively arguments which she provokes, always counter-productive to her own arguments.

Neoliberal free market cultists create the crisis and then move in to profit out of the 'solution'. This is supposedly freedom. It is simply greed tied up in lying rhetoric. It is the economic system of corporations, bankers and bought off think-tanks which our government and others are subservient too.

Kay Tie cheers this and lies about the consequences. She is either brainwashed, myopic or some kind of think-tank associate.

Paul Flynn

Thaat accounts for my surprise. You are correct. Even I was not around in the 1850s.


"That change from the 50s is extraordinary, HuwOS. Having lived to that time, I can recall an understandable pre-occupation with food prices."

Sorry Paul, 60% was in the 1850's not 1950's. I don't believe even you recall the 1850's .
I haven't been easily able to find figures for percentage of household budget spent on food in the 1950's for the UK but I saw a figure for the US that was somewhere around the mid 30's which suggests that here food alone was somewhere between 2 and 3 times the burden on a family budget then than it is now.


Patrick, I've read your comments...
one thing we need to do is go vegetarian or vegan. More protein and vitamins in food per acre, less CO2, CH4 .
I've been veggie all my life and can testify to the benefits of this diet, good health as well as Environmental benefits

Paul Flynn

That change from the 50s is extraordinary, HuwOS. Having lived to that time, I can recall an understandable pre-occupation with food prices.

Good to read that you are leading by examples.

Missing KayTie's comments on issues of this kind. Why has she deserted us? Hope it's nothing we said. I have never had a clue who s/he is.


"Before expecting people to switch to a healthier organic diet surely it needs to be made affordable first?"

I'd be a fool to expect anything of the sort Gerald.

The public would far prefer to buy nutrient poor veg full of chemicals.These will no doubt have been produced by the staff of a Billionaire 'farmer' at public expense via massive subsides.

My 3 and a half year old daughter has outside my kitchen 5 tubs full of potatoes, 2 tubs of carrots, a tub full of lettuce plus onions, mint, tomatoes and herbs.

The tubs cost 2.99 each, the compost was made in the garden and the water comes from our water but.

She planted them up and waters them. So it's educational, interesting, fun , cost-effective and tastes great.

But imagine the average Tesco shopper having to grow something? Where would they start?


In terms of cost and affordability of food, it is worth remembering that the percentage of the household budget spent on food has plummeted in the last 150 years.

In 1857, a poorer family could spend 60% of it's budget on food, the modern equivalent is 15%.

It is a good thing of course that the cost of food has gone down so much, on the other hand, especially when budgets are tight once one expense goes down others flow in to take up the difference.

As always, it's about balance.


Patrick as the majority of people on low income, e.g. minimum wage or state benefit, can only afford to buy 'Tesco intensive' or more likely 'Lidl/Aldi intensive' and not organic are you not in danger of putting the cart before the horse.
Before expecting people to switch to a healthier organic diet surely it needs to be made affordable first?


The only way that intensive farming can be destroyed is to change your diet from Tesco intensive to a more organic diet.

Organic farming offers the Tripple Whammy of healthier food and milk, soil rehabilitation and a last chance to save our wildlife.

We have had a system that has given us 60 years of chemical madness, garbage food ,depleted soils and species destruction (not to mention cost to the public).

I realise i'm pi**ing into a force 9 gale on this. What Government would put the public's health before big business?

Paul Flynn

Agree strongly with your comments Patrick. The deep crises of agriculture have been buried under an avalanche of grab and greed. Nature has ben plundered for short term production that is creating a legacy of ruin.


Successive governments and the Common Agricultural Policy have largely destroyed British Wildlife since 1945.

In two generations we have devastated the natural world with chemical pollution, urban expansion, land drainage, road construction and industrialized agriculture.

Anyone that cares might have a glance at their local Wildlife Trust statistics to look at the full scale of the horror.

In the past 50 years we have destroyed 98% of wildflower meadows, 60% of ancient woods, 60% of lowland heaths etc etc ....

No political party gives a toss about this because the public don't either.

To cater for all our ever increasing 'needs' we are running out of pollinators, wild habitat and even water.

But hey ho we have our cars, homes, holidays, plasmas,mobiles,Pizzas, Supermarkets, X-factor, Man Utd , Toffs getting married etc..

The obese British public don't care as long as they can continue to buy cheap food.

No suprise then that the main political parties care neither!


Agree about badger cull. Farming worth nothing at moment. We need to make the land into a free market system where small entrepreneurial activity can take place and variegate agriculture can emerge.

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