Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fundamental Misunderstandings About Health, Hunger and Poverty

I've been attempting a half-hearted post here for a few days, wanting very much to rant at/about Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife and her half-assed incomplete unBiblical ideas she pushes in her blog and that vanity project book of hers. But, some of what I wanted to talk about in regards to Lori I'll be posting now because my original thoughts didn't jell enough for a full post on the lack of reality in Lori-World.

I haven't posted much in a last few weeks because in many ways it's a very boring stretch of lather, rinse, repeat. Going from room to room removing wall paper, contractors in and out giving bids/doing work and a million things going to charity bins or into packing boxes for the big move. No one wants to read about that shit, or my battle with a zillion shreds of old wallpaper that keeps escaping my frantic efforts to keep swept up. Who wants to read about that? Very boring, very futile like trying to keep the sea out with a bucket.

This morning early one of my relatives by marriage triggered my mind and a long rant on his Facebook page when he posted a meme about every person in the U.S.A. is 100% responsible for the state of their own health by every choice of food they make on the tines of their fork.

But.... that's not quite how it works. The person that posted this meme has always lived in middle class abundance, never missing a meal or having to worry about budgeting for food. He is assuming that everyone has access to the same food and has the same options as him. He's never been sicker with anything more complex than the common cold. He just does not know that his reality is not everyone elses reality.

If I had a dollar for every single time some trying to be helpful but completely clueless person, be they friend or just mere acquaintance, tried to tell me that my asthma would be 'cured' if I just followed a certain eating pattern/food/diet/scheme I'd have enough dough for a deluxe vacation to the Four Seasons resort in Costa Rica. I'd be living up there like I was a Kardashian, or a Hilton.

Let me just state - DON'T DO THAT TO ANYONE SICK!!!!!!! NEVER SAY THAT STUFF!!! Not only is it not helpful all you're doing is exposing your complete lack of understanding, lack of compassion and making the person dealing with the chronic ailment feel worse. Was that your intention?

I admit, I have food issues. I need to lose weight, I'm always watching my weight and blood sugar levels. But I've been hungry too. I know what it's like to have to carefully plan for every dollar you spend on food. I know what it's like from my single mother days to enroll your child for free breakfast and lunches at school because you're working a dead end job at the same time you're working on your degree and qualifying as an impoverished household. I know what's it's like to do without so your child can eat. Which is why I've kept my pantry overflowing for years now. I don't like to feel I might have to do without again.

So whenever some conservative friend or relative starts carrying on about lazy freeloaders buying steak for the dogs with the SNAP program, or blaming the weight of children on their free meals at school, or making healthcare claims like the one in that meme it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It's just not that simple. Most issues never are. This one is complicated by American belief in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and equating monetary blessings with morality.

Lori Alexander ignores the reality of utter poverty in her book in the chapters where she insists you cook only from scratch every single day and makes fantastic health claims about eating the way she does. She ignores the fact that most Quiverfull families are unable to afford a diet of nothing but organic and raw foods. She ignores the fact that healthy diets do not cure long term health issues like brain tumors or arthritis or asthma.

It's a way to simplify and assign blame to these people. They aren't knowledgeable and they don't care to be. It's just easier to come up with a way to blame-shift and relief themselves of any possible responsibility or action that they might be required to take to ether understand the situation or to help the hungry. It's always easier to blame.

The six months I worked in the grocery store turned out to be eye opening as to what happens on the SNAP program for families. I've seen the same poor people trying to stretch that money to go as far as possible and feed everyone. It's not always possible to use the small sum SNAP pays or the scanty food budget you have if you are working for minimum wage to encompass healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies. If you have limited funds you're always going to go for the least expensive options, which here in America means heavily processed foods laden with fat, sugar and chemicals. Blaming someone for not eating right when they don't have nearly enough money to do so is ridiculous!

Add in that in a lot of rural areas and inner city sections there's a scarcity of grocery stores with any  variety. There are lots of convenience stores with that limited cheap processed food section, but not much in the way of healthier non-processed options. When's the last time you saw a salad or fresh fruit in a bodega that mainly deals in malt liquor, flavored cigars and potato chips?

If people are making bad food choices because they have no access to better foods and do not have the money to pay the extra you can hardly blame them! The same goes for families that have had absolutely no exposure to nutrition information. Without knowledge you cannot make better choices.

Once upon a time most everyone was required to take some sort of basic home ec or health classes where you at least had exposure to the ideas of the food pyramid and healthy eating choices. As more schools lose funding these programs have fallen away. Leaving a newer generation without the information they need.

Here, in our small community our social services system has started doing something that does make a difference. They started issuing bus tokens to the weekly farmers market and wooden script coins to be used on fresh foods at the farmers market only. It's a small step, but it's a beginning. I'd like to see more places try to address the access to healthier food for those at the bottom.

I'm starting to get more worried over this issue as I've continued to volunteer at the local soup kitchen, food pantry, senior nutrition site and other places that feed people. The need is greater than ever before, yet people are getting more parsimonious and judgmental towards those that need the most help. But then again look at what's happening in Trump's administration.

Fits, doesn't it, with the newer reality of the new administration. Just look at the new healthcare proposal the Republicans are trying to push through - Trumpcare. Most Republicans do not want it, people are freaking out because everyone is worried that they will be losing their healthcare. Looking at the bill it's pretty sure to raise everyone's premiums and only benefit the rich.

Hearing yesterday that the Meals on Wheels program and the funding to many senior nutrition sites is ending makes me think that this is the real death panel that the Republicans keep yarping on about when the ACA was being set up. It is Trump and his cohorts that are preparing to put seniors out on an ice floe to slowly starve to death without being able to keep affording their insurance, drugs or medical treatment. If you look closely at the new health care legislation there is a section that talks about reducing the costs of Medicare and Social Security payments by increasing numbers of seniors dying than there are now. Why would they be dying in greater numbers? Could be because of the lack of desperately needed services. The real death panel is this administration.

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