I have today off, two Easter meals tomorrow, then have to work on Monday for a few hours. So today I should be scrubbing the house from top to bottom. Except I have coffee to finish and Hamish is sleeping in my lap, so eh. It can wait until afternoon. Or never.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Live Below the Line methodology in the run up to the challenge. Although the documentation from the organizers indicates that as long as you price out portions, you can use whatever you have on hand (up to a limit of $1.75CAD/$1.50US/£1/day). However, some people (including the lovely Jack Monroe) seem to think it should mean you take your $8.75 (or £5) and shop for the week with that, not relying at all on things you already have in your cupboards, like that somehow ‘purer’.*
I don’t know about that. I buy a lot of my dry goods in bulk anyway (meaning, out of a bin at Bulk Barn, not a barrel at Costco), so weighing/pricing things seems fair enough, don’t you think? And who am I to decide whether a very poor person would buy tiny amounts of things every day, or large amounts of things once they have saved enough to get them? I also doubt that, for example, a Sudanese refugee has the choice of dozens of different kinds of canned tomatoes either, or spreadsheets to do cost breakdowns.
Should I feel guilty about using a 25 cent cooking onion from a bag I already have, or buy a loose one for 15 cents more? Maybe. Maybe not. Since the whole thing is artificial enough already, an illusion, really, I’m opting for not. For now. My mind may change as I brainstorm/dump some more.
That doesn’t mean that I still requires a lot of planning at work, of course. I have to go to the hippy health food story and the aforementioned Barn of Bulk and take note (and sneaky photos?) of prices for rice, flour, and spices (I wonder if my cheapo kitchen scale can weigh, like, .01oz of red pepper flake), and decide whether to buy veg ‘fresh’ for the challenge (meaning frozen or tinned because, yeah, fresh will not in the budget). I also have to cut back on coffee this week, because I won’t be able to have any next week (even the stuff at work — no freebies).
And I won’t lie; I am extremely nervous about this for other reasons. In my spoiled, Western mind, this is bringing up some food issues I’d rather not revisit. My weight has stabilised (+/- 5lbs is stable, right?**) since I officially ‘quit’ dieting in late 2011, I do not restrict anything I eat, and I am healthy.
And I eat a lot.
I did a bit of food tracking late last year after I was found to be anaemic at two attempted blood donations in a row and my caloric intake is in the 2500-3000 range most days — well over what most ‘experts’ recommend for an average woman***.
I literally have no problem with this; again, I am healthy, my weight does not fluctuate much, and I feel good (spring allergies notwithstanding). I am scared to death by nonsense like this piece discusses. I know that, like many, many people, if I have to think about what, and especially how much I am eating, it’s ALL I think about. Instead of just boring other people as I usually do, I bore myself. And I get angry that food becomes all-consuming (stupid unintentional pun that my brain refuses to reword). Especially if I’m hungry. Which I most definitely will be starting at, oh, 11am next Monday.
HOWEVER, this challenge is not really about me.**** It’s an experiment to give my spoiled North American ass a taste***** of how hard it is to be adequately nourished in extreme poverty; it is not about being a gourmand or a distance athlete or anything like that. It’s raising money for a cause I believe in. If I’m angry, it should be about injustice for over a billion people on Earth. It’s five days that will be difficult in a long life of fairly tame hardships (comparatively).
Damn, I’m hangry now and I just had pancakes a couple of hours ago.
If you would like/are able to sponsor me, please click here.
Also, because it’s great and informative, check out Oxfam’s GROW campaign, which highlights food poverty (which is disproportionately a problem for women and children) as well as related issues of food politics, agriculture, and climate change.
*Also, at the risk of sounding spoiledy-pants, fit-of-pique-y, is it just me, or do British food prices seem cheaper? You can’t buy a jar of herbs anywhere for the equivalent of 75 cents. Or conserves for less than a dollar?
**Actually, my scale’s batteries have been dead for quite a while and I don’t know what I weigh, but my jeans still mostly fit, so let’s say stable enough. Also, apologies if I sound a bit like a smug asshole who brags about not having a tv.
**** But, Megan, isn’t everything all about you?!
***** A pun and potential pervy reference in one go, how gauche.