Food prices are climbing across the globe. How have you dealt with ballooning grocery bills? Share your stories with us
Food is a big issue this week, and I’m not just talking about McDonalds going vegetarian or the nutritional value of organic produce. The latest news is much more grim. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a record breaking 46.7 million people are receiving food stamps and 17.9 million households in the US are food ‘insecure’, meaning “access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources.”
Across the country severe droughts in the Midwest this year are already making things worse at checkout counters, as corn and wheat prices continue to climb. Last week, The World Bank reported that food prices climbed 10 percent from June to July and agricultural experts are urging for international action before sharp increases in food prices cause global hunger. If they haven’t already, chances are you’re grocery bills are going to go up – in the sales bin, at the farmer’s market and at the grocery store.
As part of our people’s panel, we want to know how the price increases are affecting you. Are you buying more frozen food? Using coupons? Buying in bulk? If you use food stamps, are they enough to cover the costs? Do you worry about making ends meet? Fill out this form and we’ll publish selected responses on the Guardian.
Deadline for submissions: Sunday, September 5th at 5pm
Despite some late night transport problems, London’s organisation of the first opening ceremony rehearsal bodes well
As fervently requested on the night I’m going to #savethesurprise elements of Danny Boyle’s London 2012 opening ceremony show, which I was lucky enough to see rehearsed at the Olympic stadium on Monday (there will be another on Wednesday).
The organisers released certain details last month, so it’s reasonable to report that the celebrated, real live sheep were not recruited by G4S – they, after all, turned up in the promised numbers – and the challenge of scene-shifting a small meadow’s-worth of real, live grass was met with great distinction.
Other than that I’m keeping quiet, except to say that I think most people will enjoy Boyle’s resourceful and imaginative approach to what was always going to be a tricky task. Those who don’t will be of a particular type, such as the woman in the row behind us who moaned all night. Their indignation will be a bonus.
I can write without inhibition about other aspects of an extravagantly balmy London evening out. Those Team London ambassadors are going to be a huge asset: a wide range of London’s citizenry is represented in their ranks, making common cause with an easy cheerfulness and obvious appetite for their jobs. They guided, they enthused, they dispensed advice with smiles, they pointed the way with the help of big, foam fingers. You’d struggle to find a more appealing representation of the capital’s people.
The Olympic Park interior is looking good thanks largely to its flower beds, which may have the slightly forced look of the recently-planted, but are no less dazzling for it. On arriving, we – me, my wife and two of our children – resisted the lure of McDonalds and went for the fish-and-chips option from a row of smaller, non-chain food outlets near the Westfield entrance.
At £8.50 a portion they were predictably expensive, but fresh and delicious too. A woman with whom we shared a table devoured a banana she’d brought with her – a small victory against the long list of “restricted items which may not be taken into a Venue” (terms and conditions, page seven of ten) which began with with “food (save for baby food)” and also included “refrigerators.”
The only bad thing about the time between our getting through security and entering the stadium was the enormous queues for the water fountains. We were allowed to carry in empty bottles, having first drained them at high speed before reaching the x-ray machines, and the fact that water fountains are provided at all is, perhaps, a recognition that the public doesn’t want to be made a completely captive market by approved soft drink bands and bottled H2o you have to pay for. Granted, it was an exceptionally hot night, but if more fountains can be installed before Friday visitors will be very happy, even if the sponsors aren’t.
The great pilgrimage from Stratford station, past the vast shops, to the back end of the entrance queues and then through the security cordon had been a cheerful one, the ambassadors brightening our way. My belt had set off the metal detector, so I had to be frisked by a soldier who looked barely old enough to be out of school. I thought of Afghanistan and of my sons and wished him good luck.
The great trek back home was more arduous, beginning when we left the stadium at twenty past ten and ending at our front door at bang on midnight, and we only had to go three stops down what used to be called the North London Line. We could have walked home quicker, along the Lea canal. But with the stadium close to full, the mass departure was bound to be slow.
It didn’t help that the Central Line was crocked and that there were delays on the Overground. There was contradictory advice about which platform trains were arriving at and leaving from first. Even so, as our train conveyed us, a little haltingly, through Hackney Wick and Homerton I felt quite proud of London 2012.
Activity toys with Happy Meals and vouchers for sport sessions part of fast food giant’s drive to dispel unhealthy image
In the wake of a fresh wave of criticism over its involvement as an Olympics sponsor, McDonald’s has unveiled a large-scale promotional push that it claims will make children healthier.
The fast-food giant plans to give away 9m “activity toys” with its Happy Meals aimed at children as part of a “Mascotathon” campaign. The gadgets will measure how many steps or jumps the recipient makes in a day, with children encouraged to log on to an online game that translates their actions into energy for Games mascots Wenlock and Mandeville.
A second wave of activity during the Games will give away vouchers for free sport sessions as part of a marketing strategy that will aim to counter criticism of its role.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges this week demanded “bold and tough” measures to curb childhood obesity, including a ban on firms such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola from sponsoring sporting events such as the Olympics.
As a top-tier International Olympic Committee sponsor, McDonald’s will provide the only branded food in the Olympic Park and the Athlete’s Village, including its largest restaurant in the world.
The company said its campaign, promoted by a regional tour by the London 2012 mascots around its outlets, would have a positive effect on children’s health. “It will take the Olympics out of London and make sure kids can get involved and have some fun,” said Jo Burnett, McDonald’s head of UK marketing.
Professor Paul Gately, Carnegie professor of exercise and obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University, said: “When you look at the significant engagement and reach McDonald’s has, that provides a really great platform. It also really understands customers and how to talk to them. By providing them with the right information, McDonald’s is capable of switching kids on to physical activity and exercise, much more than what we’ve seen in previous public health campaigns. It can really contribute to the legacy objectives of 2012.”
Professor Gately, a member of McDonald’s “global advisory council”, said that while there were questions about the government’s “responsibility deals” with the corporate sector, the McDonald’s campaign should be embraced because it provided a route to large numbers of people. “Without public-private partnership we are not going to address these issues about the promotion of physical activity or healthy eating or tackling obesity. We can’t deal with one dimension independently from everything else,” he said.
“Rather than standing over the other side of the fence throwing things, I’d rather see how we can be effective at engaging with children and young people.”
The vice-president of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Professor Terence Stephenson, said last weekend that the involvement of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s in the Games was “most unhelpful”.
“One of the biggest events we’re ever going to see in the UK – all those people watching TV and going through the doors will be seeing this. People must be influenced by it, or why would Coca-Cola spend a lot of money to be at the Olympics?” he said.