Let’s Talk – Cauliflower & Being Independent whilst Disabled.

I think it is safe to say that most of us are aware of the ‘cauliflower steak’ fiasco that went viral last week. To sum it up quickly for those that may not know a tweet was posted on Twitter shaming Marks and Spencer for the half cut cauliflower in a plastic container, which was being sold at £2.00 (normally £2.50).

Now there were several issues here…

No 1. Many people feel that the plastic container used to store said cauliflower, is over the top, that it is ridiculous to be using that much plastic to store cauliflower in when plastic is so damaging to our environment.

No 2. The majority say it is over priced. You can buy a whole cauliflower (without packaging) for less then £2.00.

No 3. Now, this is the point I would really like to discuss… Many people feel it is unnecessary for shops to be selling pre-prepared fruit and vegetables. Calling those that do use pre-prepared ‘lazy’ and ‘people with lots of cash and no real concern for their budget’.

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I know many would argue that my opinion doesn’t matter much to them however, there are a few things I would like to say in regards to the above points…

No 1. I completely and utterly agree that we are using far too many plastic products and a lot of packaging for products is over the top and unnecessary. We need to find alternative biodegradable products.

No 2. A half cut cauliflower being sold at £2.00 is most definitely over priced. It is also an extra expense that those relying on pre-prepared fruit and veg shouldn’t have to worry about. Which brings me to my main point.

No 3. WHAT ABOUT DISABLED PEOPLE? I am still learning my rights as a disabled person and what is and isn’t ok. However, I don’t think I have ever read anything this obviously ableist.

Many disabled people and elderly rely on pre-prepared fruit and veg to make their meals each day. For many standing/sitting and chopping, slicing, grating, dicing fruit and vegetables is just not an option. Preparing a meal when disabled can be extremely difficult, excruciatingly painful and so fatiguing that by the time you’ve finished cooking you would rather go to bed than eat.

I feel able to make the assumption that it isn’t just disabled and elderly people that use these pre-prepared products but also those that lead busy lives or are juggling working life and raising a family. Either way we shouldn’t be shaming each other. We should be finding alternative solutions.

As a disabled person I can honestly say that I would have to depend somewhat on pre-prepared fruit and veg if it wasn’t for my partner. However, even with his support there are times where to enable me to be independent I use pre-prepared food. What stops me from using it more and having my independence is the price!

There is a subject that I feel should be spoken about more and I am finding extremely difficult myself as a disabled person and that is others views on our independency, or lack of.

Shona Cobb, a disabled disability, lifestyle and beauty blogger has massively hit back at the ableism we as disabled people are facing around the subject of pre-prepared food. I can honestly say it is a pleasure to know someone who fights for what is right, who fights for although a minority a very large community of disabled people.

Shona hit back initially with an article she wrote for Metro, which was later discussed on Graham Norton’s BBC Radio 2 Show. Where she explained how crucial pre-prepared fruit and veg is for those living with disabilities or reduce mobility. She spoke a lot about our awareness as whole on the environment and the way in which it effects our planet and how this is a good thing. We need to be more aware so we can make the necessary changes to support our environment.

However, we should not do this by completely disregarding those with disabilities!

Shona suggested that supermarkets look into biodegradable packaging, to support our environment but also those with disabilities so we can continue to be as independent as we can, with a good healthy diet.26943279_1868989219792328_771536680_n

Following her piece with Metro Shona was interviewed by Channel 4 News sharing how pre-prepared food is ‘vital’ for disabled people. I have been following Shona’s story on the matter and I was thrilled that she had the chance to voice it through video which was not only shared on social media but also aired on the Saturday evening news.26913790_1868888693135714_731411365_n

However, I was very confused when I read a tweet Shona had posted saying “I tell you what its a good job i’ve got to a place where nasty comments don’t bother me, lots of people basically saying that I don’t have the right to eat as independently as possible. I’m sure if they were in my shoes, they’d do everything possible to stay independent!”.

Given I was about to view the video filmed by Channel 4 News I thought I would also check the comments below on their Facebook Page and honestly? I wish I hadn’t!

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I was disgusted and astonished to read such ableist comments. To read the comments left by the ignorant. To read the comments which suggested and many said that as a disabled person Shona should have someone pre-prepare her food for her.

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I was shocked by my surprise of these comments given how often I am faced with people who do not understand that being disabled does not mean you have to be entirely dependent on another person.

I think the first comment I read really sums up what many people’s views were on the matter.

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I would like to address this reply particularly because as I said I think it sums up a fair few views on the issue. ‘It’s a lack of support issue’ now, when I began to read this part of the reply I was not expecting to read what followed. ‘She should be able to rely on somebody to prepare her meals in advance’, now there is several things I could say about this but I will try to keep it simple.

If they are making the statement I would like to assume they’re making then yes, Shona if she chose to should be able to rely on somebody to prepare her meals in advance. However, this statement ‘That’s what ‘social care’ is for’ is most definitely an uneducated comment about the social care system. They would be correct in saying that there should be someone available to help a person in need, but the social care system has been massively cut and continues to be.

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This means that most carers would not have enough time to stand and prepare food. Also many are wrong when they assume that if you are disabled and require help you get that help. Many are turned away despite in real need of help because the social care system is so underfunded. This means that despite being capable of living relatively independent many can’t because they do not receive the help they need. So, for those that believe this to be an answer and believe me there were many comments suggesting this, I suggest that you go and educate yourself about the social care system. Including how difficult it is to get the support you may need.

On the other hand however, I believe the person who wrote this reply, similarly to many others has not considered something I and many others living with disability believe quite a crucial thing… Does Shona, or any other disabled person want the help?

Now for some your immediate answer may be yes! However, I ask you to please take a moment to think about this.

No individual is the same as the next, the same item of clothing is never truly identical to the next, no potato is identical to the next, so why is it we assume all disabled people/disabilities are the same?!

Every disability is different. Every disabled person is different. We each have our own limitations, capabilities, ideas of how we wish to live or be treated (although I’m sure basic human decency is crucial to us all!). So why assume that every disabled person is incapable of everything!

Pre-prepared fruit and veg is so crucial to those living with disabilities because it is a way for us to be as independent as possible!

Yes, for some it may be crucial as they are not receiving the support they need. For some they may not have the choice to be independent. However, for many we want the independence to prepare and cook our meals ourselves. Living with disability comes with many barriers and challenges. It also means for most a lack of independence as we are dependent on many people for many things. A lack of independence could be a “small” thing such as relying on someone to pass you the salt and pepper during a meal given that you’ve just sat down. To relying on someone to shop, clean and help you get dress or take your medication each day.

This means that at any point when we are able or there is a small chance we could try to be independent we want to take it! Why should we have to rely on other people to do things when there are ways to be or there could be ways for us to be independent. Being disabled doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be entitled to be independent. I cannot describe my hatred for the idea that disabled people are completely and utterly incompetent.

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I think the above reply shows what some people make of those living with disabilities. I think it shows how little understanding others have. It also shows how ignorant people can be to the need of others.

Trust me when I say living on ready meals is not the way forward. It is not sustainable at all. Ready meals are fine for the odd occasions, weeks when you’re unwell or it’s just a little more convenient. However, living on them for me personally? No thank you. There is limited choice, it can be pretty expensive sometimes and although there is more out there nowadays it does not take into account every persons intolerances and allergies.

For just a moment try this… Have a quick think about the type of meals you cook for yourself or your family cooks over a month. Think about the variety and choices you can make. Now imagine someone taking away ALL of your choice and instead laying out 10-15 different pre-made meals. Now eliminate all of the meals that you can’t eat due to allergies you, a friend or family member may have. What options do you have left? Do you have any? Perhaps 2-5? If you’re lucky I guess more. Now imagine eating those same meals, day in day out 365 days a year. It doesn’t sound good right? Especially when there is a way for you to have more, to have better.

If you wouldn’t live like this or enjoy watching your friends and family live like this why should anyone else? Why are we as disabled people always assumed to be ok with less? Why should we not have the same options everyone else has?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I need help with as a disabled person. There is several things I cannot do. However, believe me when I say it was not from a lack of trying! Why are we  forcing those with disabilities to be more disabled than they are? Why do we assume that every disabled person is the same? Why do we assume? Why can’t we just ask?!

Let me know what you think on the matter of being independent when living with disability. Is it something you come up against?

Also a thank you to Shona for allowing me to use her as an example for this blog, and another thank you to Shona for standing up for a large community of disabled people. 

 

Keep up-to-date with my chronic life here:

Facebook: The World in my Words

Twitter: Worldin_myWords

Instagram: Worldin_myWords

 

You can also keep up-to-date with Shona by following her here:

Facebook: My Marfan Life

Twitter: ShonaLouiseBlog

Instagram: ShonaLouiseBlog

Blog: Shona Louise

 

Can you help me to regain my independence? 

I am fundraising for a Power Assist Add On for my Wheelchair as I am no longer able to self propel. Without this Add On I continue to be housebound without the help of others. I would love to regain my independence, this is not how I imagined my life to be at 20. 

If you are able please consider donating to my funding page and share it with your friends and family. 

https://www.gofundme.com/hollys-power-chair-funding

 

 

 

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nigel Vause says:

    Excellent well written article. Until Shona and yourself had put across this point of view i had no idea how beneficial pre prepared food could be. Of course it’s about the right sort of packaging (and price). I’m certain this can be achieved. We need good young articulate voices like yours to help navigate this problem. Well done & do more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you found this post informative. It seems quite possible for us to use alternative packaging. We should be able to support the environment as well as those that live within it.

      Like

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