Opinion: How our relationships with each other, our communities, and our food have changed since the 1970s

Karen Madej

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

When did the world change from walking to a local grocer, butcher, and fishmonger and returning with a shopping basket full of fresh produce to driving to a supermarket and filling a trolley with enough processed food to last a week? In the UK, that’s what we did in the 1970s before women started working and had to have their cars to transport them to work.

And I will go on criticising Socialism, and opposing Socialism because it is bad for Britain — and Britain and Socialism are not the same thing…It’s the Labour Government that have brought us record peace-time taxation. They’ve got the usual Socialist disease — they’ve run out of other people’s money. Margaret Thatcher 1975

In the late 60s, my dad bought the family home for £500. The first home, a two-bedroom maisonette, my husband and I purchased together sold for £56,000 in 1996. It was in negative equity.

Women’s right to divorce improved thanks to the Divorce Reform Act of 1969. It was my right to reject a man who had to have it all his way, and when challenged, he could make you feel ashamed for thinking, having, or wanting something different from his requirements.

Did any of us notice as we transitioned from simple, honest work and food to short-term gains and microwave dinners? How much time we saved not having to prepare our meals ourselves. Just pop the estrogen-laden plastic packages in either a microwave or a much slower regular oven. Feed the kids gloop from a jar or tin or the freezer, get them bathed and tucked up in bed by eight.

Watch some mind-numbing soap opera or, if lucky, catch halfway decent cops and robbers or spy shows, and retire to bed early. Rinse and repeat five days a week.

Years rolled by, our office jobs became careers, our homes more prominent and located in swankier areas. No longer close to work, often not even in the same city. We’d jump into our cars or onto public transport.

While working all hours, did any of us consider what we ate, drank, and smoked? Work hard, play hard. Drink and smoke harder. Do more of the same on holidays. Sell another house and buy a bigger one. Buy a bigger car. Buy the latest gadgets and luxury goods. By 2004, a two-bedroom maisonette in Essex cost £130,000.

Banks offered mortgages with 5% deposits, so you bought your property. Three years later, the financial crisis of 2007–08 (the Great Recession in the US) hit the world.

Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative government created the former excesses of your life, and you jumped on the bandwagon along with everyone else looking to get rich. The Iron Lady started the privatization of the UK and cast aspersions on the unemployed, the catalyst for the state of our nation today.

A state worsened over the years by accepting greed and reducing values. Particularly the integrity to treat workers fairly, all workers, not just employees — much easier to do with union memberships halved by the Conservative Party’s so-called freedom. And allow Amazon, among others, to get away with tax avoidance tactics while so many High Street shops close. Meanwhile, coffee shops survive, and junk food and supermarkets abound.

The value of our mental health and well-being and the joie de vivre we once found when we holidayed at the English seaside, gone. We ate home-cooked meals because mum stayed at home with the kids. But women bought into the promise of equality. We didn’t imagine the actual cost of our freedom because a snake oil seller duped us. Thatcher. Of course, she meant well — to bring riches to all those who worked for it. Tell that to the single parents, their children, and the pensioners who live below the poverty line.

Those whose disabilities meant they couldn’t work suffered, and those few who wouldn’t work got away with fake injuries. Or so we were told by regular stories in the press (mainly Tory supporters) and documentaries on TV.

Our continued taste for poverty propaganda and benefit fraud stories fuelled the fires started by Thatcher’s view that we are all equal and free to earn as much as we like. Perfect for any strong, healthy individuals and middle working-class families. Forget the poor and vulnerable.

If “poverty porn” or “poverty propaganda” cast the poor as indolent and feckless, the coverage described here positions many of them as criminally active. Below the radar: A UK benefit fraud media coverage tsunami — Impact, ideology, and society.

Some riches surpass others. The love from friends and family, the satisfaction gained from simple pleasures, and the kindness of strangers. Knowing the riches of the foreign elite continue growing before their gold buys the next doctor’s surgery or supermarket for a song. And the homegrown elite let them buy it, and politicians enabling their friends to get richer.

The transition from local and inclusive to divided and contemptuous took forty years. Worldwide and exclusive is already here. All we need to do to keep destroying the planet at an ever-increasing rate is to keep using the most commonly traded commodities by group:

Crude Oil and derivatives
Coffee
Agriculture — Including wheat, corn, maize, oats, rice, soybeans.
Animals and Animal Products — Such as live and feeder cattle, beef, frozen and fresh pork bellies, and eggs.
Cocoa, butter, orange juice, and sugar.
Metals — Metals such as aluminum, nickel, copper, lead, and ferrous scrap.
Precious metals — The other commonly traded commodities are precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum.
Plastic
Natural Gas
Bio-fuels

Nowadays, both men and women choose their relationship with profit over people and the environment. They will continue until forced to cease and desist by worthy if snail-slow governments.

If we want a future for our children and grandchildren, we need to reassess what’s vital to our happiness. The consequences of climate change are happening in the UK, California, and worldwide.

Food production accounts for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and takes up half of the planet’s habitable surface.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming. In 2018, 89% of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuels and industry. Client Earth

And finally, the UK Tory government needs £12bn to pay for social and health care. Hence, it raises the least hated tax, National Insurance. Older people don’t mind paying more for public services. The government would rather not upset those who earn over £50,284, hoard property and investment dividends, and only pay 2% National Insurance!

The Research Fellows at LSE and co-authors of Fix our existing National Insurance system instead of adding Levy urges new report also recommend that if the rate is equalized across those who earn below and above £50,284, the government could raise an extra £20bn. The government could then use the excess £8bn to pay for a 1.25% cut in the NIC rate.

“Young people and lower earners have already been hard-hit by COVID. The government’s new Levy is asking more from this group. Our alternative plan would ensure that older and higher-earning individuals paid their fair share.” Helen Hughson, London School of Economics and co-author

A twist on Thatcher’s words:

It’s the Conservative Government that have brought the low and middle class wage earners a National Insurance increase from 12 to 13.5%. They’ve got the usual Rightist disease — they’ll protect older, wealthier idividuals.

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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