How do you make people - enough people - care about an issue like poverty? The answer might seem superficial but it’s to give them a good time as yesterday’s #feedingthe5000 event on Bristol’s College green showed.
The (rare this year) sunshine obviously helped. There was free food - obviously a winner though stewards were quite rightly asking for contributions towards the meal (veggie curry, rice and salad) which was provided by the local Thali Cafe.
There was some great music from Joe Driscoll and kora player Sekou Konyate which gave the event a festival-like atmosphere. And there were cooking demos by well known local chefs and cooks such as Richard Bertinet and Tom Hunt of Poco who was apparently smoking cod with used tea bags (shame I missed that)
This week a report by Oxfam and the Church Action Poverty Group revealed that half a million people in the UK now rely on food banks, a situation they describe as a ‘national disgrace’. One way FareShare South West and Feeding the 5000, the charities behind the Bristol event, are tackling the problem is by drawing attention to the amount of food that is thrown away, their catchy slogan being ‘feed bellies, not bins’.
To underline the point they were handing out £1 bags of vegetables which would otherwise have been chucked away. I'm going to use the one I bought to cook with today. But the thing is - I can work out some good things to make with them. It’s a lot harder for inexperienced cooks.
How can we get round this? It’s a well-rehearsed observation - most recently by Michael Pollan - that the huge number of programmes on TV hasn’t resulted in more people cooking from scratch in their own homes. Fewer do, if anything.
An idea I’ve been thinking about for a long time is that there should be street cooks where a designated cook - or two - in each road offers to teach their neighbours how to make simple meals - or even makes home-cooked food for those who don't have the time or energy to make meals themselves - new mothers or those who are recovering from an operation, for example.
It could be a great thing for older people with time on their hands to get involved in and a way for younger people to learn provided bureaucracy in the form of health and safety regs doesn’t stand in the way. Well worth a pilot project or two I’d have said.
What do you reckon? Would it work?