Friday, October 7, 2011

Lentils of Superiority

"Why do poor people eat so much junk food? Don't they know it costs more? Why can't they cook and eat nourishing, protein-laden, inexpensive beans and legumes?"

Leaving aside the issue of a potential lack of kitchen appliances, cooking knowledge and skills, implements, access to certain foods, and time, here’s George Orwell’s opinion on why the poor may eat the way they eat, from Wigan Pier:
“When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored and miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit ‘tasty.’ There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you. Let’s have three pennorth of chips! Run out and buy us a twopenny ice cream! Put the kettle on and we’ll all have a nice cup of tea ! That is how your mind works…. White bread-and-marg and sugared tea don’t nourish you to any extent, but they are nicer (at least most people think so) than brown bread-and-dripping and cold water.”
 Brown bread-and-dripping, or, lentils of superiority.


  1. In the US, it doesn't cost more to eat junk. At McDonald's, you can get any number of items for 99 cents, but not a salad. If I had five dollars and three hungry kids, I would not buy us one chicken salad. I would buy four burgers and some fries.


  2. The cheapness of fast food blew my mind when I lived in NC. I didn't eat enough junk there to make a price comparison between dried legumes and frozen pizza, say, so I'm not sure how the comparison would turn out if a number of variables were included. Yet, I still hear the lentils of superiority argument from some Americans. I think the point about turning the diet of poor people into a moral issue stands.