Self-righteous foodies make mockery of actual poverty. News at 6.

I’ve got a real thing about “live below the line” challenges.  The key point is that taking a week out of your “normal” life to “experience poverty” can never even come close to the grinding, wearying shittiness of poverty.  And plenty of things are manageable when you know there’s a finish line.  Poor people don’t get a finish line.

Fuck, even American Dad! managed to do a half-assed job showing this.

But we’ve hit a new low.  And that low is Ella Rose and rEvolution of Waiheke Island’s particularly shitty, preachy, profiteering spin on the matter.

While highlighting the plight of the world’s poor is a top priority, Rose says the challenge for her is about much more than starving yourself for a charity.
“We live in a world where the numbers of obese people now are greater than the number of people starving, a world where over a billion people are barely surviving on less than NZ$2.25 a day, and where 70% of the extreme poor are women and children,” she said. “I see the challenge as an opportunity for me to make intelligent food choices and to reflect deeply on our relationship to health, nutrition, and our global food production and distribution systems.”

The point of this challenge, however flawed, is not to pat yourself on the fucking back for knowing people who will sell you fucking hipster organic juice for wholesale prices.  It is not about setting yourself up as an example to prove to the stupid poor people that their children will do just fine with kale chips which are totally affordable on a per-chip basis.

If only the Global Poverty Project team had bothered to explain this to Ella Rose before publishing her self-promoting bullshit for her.


s.e. smith has written a great post on the general topic of bullshit poverty challenges; The Little Pakeha beat me to the line posting about this specific example:

I can only imagine she’s making some very intelligent food choices to be able to afford any of what she listed. The juice bar she’s partnered with, rEvolution, sells a medium juice for $5.50 – making two medium juices her entire food supply for the week with 25c left over. Presumably she has access to their wholesale supplier’s prices, which will really help her to be empathic about the everyday struggles of poverty.


  1. megpie71

    I’ve no problems with those sorts of challenges as a starting point… I just figure they need to be a bit more extended. Try it for three months, or better yet, six months. Or get a friend to roll up a random (2d6+1) number of months for you and not tell you about the finish line until you’re within two weeks of it. Long enough to have at least one major bill land on your doorstep while you’re living on this low income. Long enough that you’re going to have to replace something. Long enough that the goodwill of friends and family starts to wear out. Long enough that you can’t dine out on the experience. Long enough that you start to miss popular culture events, because you can’t afford them. Long enough for the stockpiled stuff in the cupboard to start to dwindle. Long enough for the kids to need new shoes, or new school stationery.

    Long enough to get even the beginnings of a feel for what genuine poverty is really like. A week is barely wetting your lips. To really get the flavour, you need to be there long-term.

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