During the research process for this project, I have noticed a very evident lack of working class representation in food writing. The majority of journalists, bloggers, and TV personalities all have middle class backgrounds, current lifestyles, and personas. Jack Monroe is a very refreshing change from this constant, introducing a very new and very exciting voice to the food writing community. I was told to look at her work by a colleague at work and immediately resonated with the message that she has been promoting through her books and interviews.
Her website ‘Cooking on a bootstrap’ compiles a series of nourishing meals utilising very cheap ingredients including tinned vegetables, frozen meats, and other items generally frowned upon by other bloggers. As somebody from a very poor background, she intimately understands the limitations put in front of working class families when it comes to providing nutritious meals.
“Jack’s food writing had a humble start on her blog, A Girl Called Jack, at a time when she was relying on food banks for support. A 2012 post titled “Hunger Hurts” recounted in unsparing detail the pain of going hungry in the sixth richest country in the world. “This morning,” she wrote, “small boy had one of the last Weetabix, mashed with water, with a glass of tap water to wash it down with. I tell him I’m not hungry, but the rumblings of my stomach call me a liar. But these are the things that we do.”
Other chefs have attempted cookbooks for food on a budget but none come from the same place as Jack’s. Jack Monroe is a woman who has experienced modern austerity, food poverty, has been part of an ultimately failing system that millions of people are still trapped in. Her perspective is completely authentic. Whilst Jack has a broad audience, she doesn’t have the same platform as individuals such as Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver, because her work doesn’t provide the same inspirational escapism. Her work is grounded in a very harsh reality that many middle/upper class people, no matter how liberal and empathetic they may believe they are, don’t wish to see.
People like Jack are difficult to come by in the foodie market, exemplifying the problems of working class exclusion. I share many of her beliefs and wish to incorporate similar messages in to my work.
Monroe, J. (2019). Jack Monroe. [online] Cooking on a Boot Strap. Available at: https://cookingonabootstrap.com/ [Accessed 6 Nov. 2019].
Tandoh, R. (2019). Jack Monroe Has Written a Cookbook for Food Bank Users. [online] Vice. Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/gy4wxb/jack-monroe-tin-can-cook-food-banks [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].