The final straw was when yet another person commented on the current horse meat scandal in beef burgers. The assumption is that only people on low incomes or with very constrained budgets buy cheap, processed foods. I think it is not only inaccurate but it is patronising and smug.
In my experience over the years, through the recession in the 80's to the boom of the noughtys back to the current recession, it has nothing got to do with budget. The vast majority of people care little about what they eat and are incredibly uneducated about food, nutrition or budgeting. And before everyone gets up on their collective horses let me explain.
When I was growing up in Dublin, the kids on my road lived in houses where the "good room" was locked up and not available to them. They ate kids' food - fish fingers, burgers, tinned beans and peas, white sliced bread with plastic cheese for their tea while the adults entertained in the good room and went on foreign holidays.
I remember asking my mother why we did not have a "good room". The answer I got was that we did not have such a room in the same way we did not eat "children's food" nor did we go on foreign holidays. This was, she explained, because we spent our money on food and education. I don't know what age I was but I remember it clearly and from then on I began to notice what she meant.
Years later when my own kids were small and we lived in a middle class area in the UK. I noticed the same thing. But even more surprisingly I noticed how well-educated people on good incomes spent so little on food. Oh they had the cars, the foreign holidays, the sound system and the good room. But very often the fridge was empty and the cupboards bare.
Now back to the current debate and the people on very tight budgets. Stand in a supermarket any day of the week and look at what people on all sorts of budgets put in their trolleys. Then stand back and look at their clothes, their kids' shoes, their watches, their smart phones and their cars. Then check out the price per kg of many of the processed foods they are buying. In almost all cases the processed foods are considerably more expensive than buying the basics. Yes they lack the knowledge and the skills and to a certain extent the time, but they have plenty of knowledge and skill and time when it comes to operating technology so they are not dumb.
So now do you see my point? It is a matter of priority. People regardless of budget have different priorities. Food is in many cases low priority after the latest must-have gadget for adult and child alike.
On last night's debate on RTE's Frontline programme, Darina Allen said she would rather spend her money on food than give it to the doctor or the chemist. But how many really think like this?
Instead we have people including journalists writing for The Guardian making sweeping statements about poeple on low budgets in the same breath as denigrating people who have an interest in food. How do they know the people they sneer at as "lifestyle foodies" are not prioritising their budgets in favour of good, healthy, wholesome food?
RTE Frontline The Guardian Darina Allen Horse Meat in Burgers