Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is America's bread addiction hurting the poor?

So I ran across this video of Kerri Leonard and Christopher Greenslate, two high school teachers who lived on $1 a day (each) for one month;

It's a fascinating exploration of thrift and diet, politics and lifestyle, and as a thrifty dieter I found it thought provoking.

My first thought was that I could easily eat well on $1 a day, for a month. They made it sound a bit horrific - Christopher talks a bit dramatically about not being able to buy fruits and veg and eating 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on a PB&J every day for lunch.

I blame their terrible food choices.

Number one, Americans consume way, way too many carbs. It's ridiculous. We feel like we're being deprived if we don't get our bread, crackers, cookies, rice, and pasta.

Let's look at their One Dollar Diet Project food list here - it includes prices. If you remove the death-by-carbs items (bread, flour, cornmeal, rice, etc), that frees up an enormous amount of money right there that could be used to purchase meats for protein and veg for carbs and vits.

You can get peanut butter for $4/35 servings (that's two tablespoons, there, per serving), quick oats (if you want some grain in your diet) for $4/30 servings.  You can get a 3lb tub of oleo for $1.99 and ditch expensive margarine and olive oil.  You can get a whole chicken or huge package of leg quarters for $4 (at least 4 meals, plus soup with what's left) and 4 cans of tuna (8 servings) for $3. And so on.

My off-the-cuff main suggestions (for two, $60 to spend) would be a big bag of beans, cabbage or collards, onions, carrots, tuna, peanut butter, the quick oats for breakfasts, oleo, eggs, a stack of small flour tortillas (see, there's bread, lol), boullion, tiny jar of mayonnaise, and the chicken.

You'd have porridge or eggs for brekkies; tuna / mayo, PB, or chicken / mayo wraps for lunches or quick suppers; beans and greens, or soup, or chicken and veg / greens, (or wraps) for suppers.

I know, I know, you're saying: "Blue, clearly they're Veggies/vegans so that blows your diet adjustments out of the water."

Well, yeah, you're right and that's sort of my point.  Can you really compare a person in a third world country - or even an impoverished person here in the US - who catches as catch can, eating whatever they can get, to two middle class social experimentors who buy soy milk instead of powdered cow's milk and strawberry preserves instead of store brand grape jelly?

I have no problems with what Ms Leonard and Mr Greenslate did.  I think it's way cool and I'm glad they got recognised. I'm just saying that their results is really is a LIFESTYLE thing and not a THRIFT thing  - they did NOT make the hard choices that a truely poor person would have to make (buy the cheapest even if it's not organic/all natural/free range/politcally correct)- and so really is almost no comparison with the cost of eating well for the impoverished.

The One Dollar Diet Project blog is here if you'd like to follow the whole adventure.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 12:46 pm   2 comments


At 4:45 pm, Anonymous webbasedhelpdesk said...

Its funny you mentioned the beans. I saw this story about the One Dollar per day diet project and blogged about it at One of the things I was talkign about was eating beans. I used to pretty live off beans as a child. Personally I love them and for anyone wanting to save money on groceries then these are definitely cheaper and better alternatives health wise than some of the recipes described on that dollar day diet project page.

At 7:07 am, Anonymous moonduster said...

Beans are so inexpensive and make a terrific meal! We make my crockpot bean soup regularly, and even when we add in a bit of gammon for flavour and my kids add in low-fat cheese to theirs, we still spend way less than £1 per person per meal. In fact, it's more like 50 pence per person per two meals from it!


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