Special Editions: Food Privilege and Time

It’s the second blog in this four part series discussing food privilege and food insecurity. As a reminder food insecurity is defined as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”

One of the barriers to access is Time. Yes, you read that, time. A common misconception of those who don’t necessarily eat healthy is that they are just lazy. While some people are indeed lazy, a lot of people in the lower middle class and at the poverty level simply don’t have time to grocery shop, meal prep or even eat at home.

In high school, my family was hovering at the poverty line. I don’t tell you this to make you feel pity for me, it’s just a fact, it’s part of my story. But i distinctly remember us not always having time to sit around the dining room table during the week to eat. A lot of meals were on the go, or rushed. Many times these meals were packaged, frozen or from a drive thru and it wasn’t because my mom who raised us practically on her own was lazy or didn’t care, it was because she was working a full-time 60-70 hour job to try and make sure we had somewhere to eat, sleep and live.

My family while my brother was still in high school 🙂

Not everyone has the privilege of time. On any given Sunday I spend 3-4 hours cooking for the week. It’s a luxury that I’ve been gifted with over the years. But it’s also exhausting. The grocery shopping, the planning, and the prepping takes a lot of energy and a lot of time. It’s not something everyone can do.

There’s been a lot of talk about how amazing Shakira and J.Lo looked at the Super Bowl this past weekend and of course the memes began about how everyone else at like 21-30 can barely get out of bed while these two 40-50 year old women can get up on the stage and put on a show with numerous dance sequences. People want to know how they do it… and I tell you my friends it’s time (and personal chefs). They have so much time and then again it’s also their job to take care of themselves and look great. So don’t beat yourself up if you are working 60-70 hours a week and barely making it to the gym for 30 minutes 5 days a week or grabbing lunch from a drive thru window.

Time is a commodity that we don’t always have. It’s a barrier to healthy lifestyles and in that case also to food. It’s easy to say… “well make time,” but it’s not actually all that easy to do in today’s world. I guess my point here today is that the next time you start to judge yourself or someone else for the food they eat take a step back and remember that you have no idea what is going on in their lives that cause them to have to eat that meal at their desk, in their car, or on the couch. Remember, you may have time to hit up the farmer’s market, grow food in your own backyard, and meal prep all day on Sunday, but it’s not a luxury everyone has.

My hope is that one day that will change. My hope is that one day that struggling mom of three kids who is working a full-time job with some side hustles on the side in order to pay the rent and feed her kids won’t have to work as much and instead will be gifted with time to fix a healthy meal every day. But that takes cultural changes, it takes better pay, better food systems, and better laws. Until then, the least we can do is be compassionate towards those trying their hardest, even if we don’t think it’s what’s best for them.

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