Rising food prices are beginning to hurt. I'm fortunate to live in a two income family, so my pain threshold is greater than that of one-income households, and certainly of many desperately poor people around the world. Women in
In my family, as in many others, mum does the shopping and cooking. This is despite my partner's committed pro-feminism: I do these tasks quicker than he does. So it falls to me to economise, stretching a static food budget further in the face of rising costs. It's a trade off between money and time. Before I had my second child, I had a better paying job. I spent more time at work and less at home, so we bought a lot more consumer items. Shopping was something done in ten minutes on the way home from work, when I was tired. I grabbed the first random, processed foodstuffs I saw from the shelves, and crammed them into my trolley. I'm surprised that none of my whanau contracted MSG poisoning.
These days, I earn less, and work harder at home to stretch our family income further. The higher food prices go, the more frugal – and creative – I have to be. The problem is this: when it comes to home-making, I suck. I simply don't have the skills of my foremothers, who were very good at economising around the home. They had to be, as they didn't have paid jobs and therefore the money/time trade off wasn't available to them. Case in point: my Scottish grandmother spent hours and hours knitting gloves for her sons, turning each finger on her knitting needles. If I were to buy gloves, I would likely get them from the Warehouse for two or three bucks. They would have been made by workers treated little better than slaves in
I'm afraid that I don't have all the skills to run an economical household. I can make soup (kind of) and sew buttons back on, but that's about it. Domestically challenged people like myself have a harsh learning curve ahead of us. For financial, ethical and environmental reasons, we need to stop buying disposable or ready-to-serve, highly packaged, expensive consumer items. We have to substitute our own labour for the stuff we used to buy to make our pay packets and the earth's resources go further. We need our workplaces to recognise our large and potentially growing unpaid workloads.
In the meantime, I need a serious injection of homemaking skills, which seem to have died within my family over the last two generations. If you see children with three fingered gloves eating ghastly soup, pity them. They are mine.