Jamie Oliver says poor wasting money on ready meals
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver appears on the US radio show "At Martha's Table" at SIRIUS XM Radio in New York on November 12, 2008. TV chef Jamie Oliver has raised hackles by accusing Britain's poor of splashing out on "massive" televisions and spending money on fast food and ready meals instead of healthy cooking.
Oliver, 38, who has an estimated fortune of £150 million, told the Radio Times magazine: "I'm not judgmental, but I've spent a lot of time in poor communities, and I find it quite hard to talk about modern-day poverty.
"You might remember that scene in (his series) Ministry Of Food, with the mum and the kid eating chips and cheese out of Styrofoam containers, and behind them is a massive f***ing TV. It just didn't weigh up."
Speaking as he launched his budget cooking show, Jamie's Money Saving Meals, on Channel 4, Oliver said he wanted to encourage people to shop at local markets and cut down on pre-prepared food.
"The fascinating thing for me is that seven times out of 10, the poorest families in this country choose the most expensive way to hydrate and feed their families. The ready meals, the convenience foods," he said.
"Some of the most inspirational food in the world comes from areas where people are financially challenged.
"The flavour comes from a cheap cut of meat, or something that's slow-cooked, or an amazing texture's been made out of leftover stale bread...
"You go to Italy or Spain and they eat well on not much money. We've missed out on that in Britain, somehow."
Oliver, whose culinary empire includes TV shows, books and restaurant chains and who was previously the face of Sainsbury's supermarkets, has also campaigned to improve school meals.
Food poverty in Britain has worsened since the financial crisis, with more than 500,000 people dependent on food parcels and one in six parents reporting they have gone without food to feed their families, according to the charity Oxfam.
Blogger Jack Monroe, who shot to fame with her budget recipes and feeds herself and her son for £10 a week, poured scorn on Oliver's advice that people buy vegetables such as mange tout from local markets.
"If you have a good greengrocers you can get to, you don't need me or Jamie Oliver to tell you that it might be cheaper (than a supermarket). It might not. It depends where you live," she wrote.
"I can't remember the last time I ate mange tout. And herein our problem lies -- Jamie Oliver's budget far exceeds the budget of today's working families, people out of work, long term poverty.
"Jamie Oliver couldn't create a menu for £10 in a week cooking from scratch if he tried."
Imran Hussein, head of poverty at the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), said: "For many families it's low income which gets in the way of healthy eating.
"As official statistics show, parents of poor children are much less likely to be able to afford fresh fruit for their children. We also know from the evidence that as the incomes of poor families rise, they spend more on things like healthy food and children's clothes."