Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 2. Food Memory.

Breakfast: For me, toast and jam, a banana, a small glass of orange juice -- for Brian, cereal and milk, a banana, a small glass of orange juice
Lunch: For me, leftover lentil soup, a slice of toast, a banana, an apple -- for Brian, leftover pasta, a cheese sandwich, a banana, an apple
Dinner: Round three of lentil soup, pan-fried potatoes with grated carrot

We've been talking about how familiar this food is to us (minus the meat). We both grew up in the seventies and eighties, before the democratization of haute cuisine and boutique ingredients. Fried potatoes, root vegetables. Simple and stewy.

If the taste is simplicity, the rest is complexity. We are already rationing the bread. We left our one jar of peanut butter in the bagging area at Aldi, and it won't be cheap to replace. If I cook five potatoes instead of four, will we have enough for the rest of the week? How many carrots are really in that five-pound bag? What are we going to eat when things start running out?

This one time

Lenna Tasley-Broome

Hi Food Stamp teamers,

When we have and inherently know we have - then doing without comes to a choice of 'this one time', 'I have this everyday and really love it or need it' and most importantly we can cheat a little. Food Stamp citizens similarly navigate this quandry - resulting in going without - having to just go without. I'm in a place and time in my life where finances aren't as robust - and need to budget - but still I have wiggle room and my mom. It's only me and my pooch and $4.50 a day - yipes. No Panera salad, I guess cause it's simpler than cooking - which I didn't do much since being in food industry many years and my beloved never expected from me. No children either a money credit - an emotional debit. 

Yesterday had the Panera salad - 2nite will have frozen veggies, tuna with stewed tomatoes - ya know one of those meals only you'd eat. I eat dinner only - have a food/weight schtick - so that's a savings. 

We'll see - the blogs were great - so heartfelt - like being right there with some of you.  Thanks.

1 1/2 Days

Cheryl Lyons

Had Oatmeal with raisins for breakfast.  Banana for snack.  Cooked northern beans and cottage cheese for dinner.  Did fine.  Missed my sparkling water.  (12 pack $4.49) 

At work today, Monday 11/12 and started my day with oatmeal and raisins.  Brought sweet potato, two boiled eggs, and 2 carrots, for my lunch and snacks today.   J       

Hunger Challenge - Day Two

Andrea Kaiser

I began my day with a bowl of steel cut oats/ about 1/4 cup fat free milk with a garnish of four walnut pieces (leftovers from last week), and a tablespoon of  cranberry sauce. Nothing else to drink but a little water. I was hungry 2.5 hours later. I waited another hour before I ate.

I made my own tomato vegetable soup for the first time. (I'm not much of a cook, but having to get creative this week in my food choices!) The soup was made with frozen veggies: green beans, corn, julienne carrots, soybeans, canned tomatoes, tiny red pepper strips (more for color!), pearl onions,basil, garlic, and I added half a boiled, red potato. The other half I sauteed with 1 Tbsp olive oil and a seasoning mixture of garlic/onion/salt/pepper. My meal was quite tasty; not exactly filling. I was still a bit hungry. A green apple awaits me in two hours, followed by dinner: 2 slices of ham, sweet potatoes with cranberries--maybe a couple of walnut pieces, and fresh steamed broccoli--perhaps with a little Mexican cheese mixture. At bedtime, I will have 1/4 cup sunflower seeds.

What I noticed:
1.) As I was turning on the water about to wash out the soup bowl, I spotted a couple of tiny pieces of potato, and before the water splashed in, I quickly swallowed up the tiny morsels! In the past, this would have been an appetizer for the garbage disposal!

2.) When you know you can only eat a couple of items at a meal, you tend to TASTE them more than normal! The flavor seemed more enhanced. And I slowed down my eating process, to savor each miniscule bite. Each tiny piece of vegetable came alive in my bowl of soup.

3.) Watching TV can make one hungry quite easily. I am striving to remain busy between meals, so I don't think about my hunger. When I am less busy/active, I am aware of a growling tummy.

4.) Operating at 40-60% full after meals.

5.) Seeing the difference between Lack and Abundance. Lacking food makes me more appreciative for every spoonful.

6.) I am reminded of my parents saying to eat everything on my plate; the children in Europe(China/elsewhere) were starving! That meant nothing to me as a kid, but everything to me as an adult!

7.) Last night, I forgot to pack my food to take to a friend's home. I was caring for her mother for 7 hours: 2-9PM. I managed a small portion of mixed greens, and two scrambled eggs.
 To healthy eating!

Making different food choices

Cyndee Levy

We decided to begin tomorrow, Monday, as we could not get our act together before Shabbat. So we have menu planned and gone shopping and will begin in the morning. 

We did fairly well shopping; we had a budget of $189 for our family of 6 and we still have $60 left for later this week. The menu planning wasn't too difficult as I do cook almost every night of the week. But we decided to use more frozen veggies instead of fresh as we were able to get more for our dollar. This experience is already showing us that we have to make different food choices in order to have enough and that we will absolutely have to go with smaller portions in order to stretch the dollar, with three 18 y/o boys in the house this will be the biggest challenge.

We decided to deduct $20 from the overall budget for the coffee, flour and sugar, condiments and the like that we will be using. But, we did pull everything out of the pantry that was part of our menus for the week and deducted their dollar value from our budget. Now the pantry is closed for the week.

In some ways we are lucky because of the fact that I cook a lot and my family are already very healthy eaters.  So we don't some of the things that families usually have on hand for snacking. My family are also big veggies eaters, salads, kale, greens...the less expensive items that can be stretched a bit further.

We will do without meat, expect we have planned turkey meatloaf for Shabbat dinner.

Thank you again for sharing this experience with us through Mirowitz. I know we will learn a great deal.

I live with a woman

rabbi james stone goodman

I live with a woman who is into this exercise but I can’t say that it has grabbed my imagination. Yet.

There are some consciousness challenges that arise. I am, like most everyone else who lives in my neighborhood, a food snob. Everyone seems to be an expert in food nowadays. My old friend Stevie grew up on frozen fish sticks and wouldn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable until he was well into adulthood; today he calls himself a “foodie” and every time I hear him evaluate an artesian pizza crust or a particular olive oil I wonder who is speaking.

I enjoy shopping at Trader Joe’s, as I see all my neighbors do. I could lobby for local ordinances every time I go there. But I also respect the fakery of our lives; Trader Joe’s started with that faux South Seas routine reminding me of Trader Vic’s when I was a kid. We didn’t have a nickel and I didn’t go on a vacation until I got married but Trader Vic’s was like dinner on a cruise.

The poverty of our inner lives; such things work. Everybody in Pasadena wanted to shop the first Trader Joe’s because of all that Polynesian narischkeit as you strolled the jungle aisles and left your sad little Chevy Vega hatch-back life outside. It’s still in business by the way. TJ’s, not the Chevy Vega.

So we go to Aldi to shop for food stamp food. TJ’s, founded by Joe Coulombe, has been owned since 1979 by a family trust set up by the late German businessman Theo Albrecht, one of the two brothers behind the German discount supermarket chain Aldi Nord.
Ha! It’s the same family! Serving two different worlds in contiguous neighborhoods that rarely intersect. Who wrote this story, Salman Rushdie?

It’s the novelistic intersections of these stories that delight and depress me. I feel like I’m scurrying through this microcosm-maze operated by mystery relations that intersect in some other envelope of reality; here we intuit the TJ-Aldi connection, not sure how it plays out, but what it means on the micro level – we are the snobs who shop TJ and I for one have never set foot in Aldi and it’s totally a noblesse oblige kind of concept I admit – I am just like the people I bump into at TJ’s and what a surprise that I know everybody in the store. I wouldn’t know a soul at Aldi I’m sure. If I ever went there. Which I won’t.

One other thing. I don’t like the whole subject of food stamps and poverty. I’d rather not think about it unless I get lost and wander off the corridor and into the world where I don’t live. So does the rest of America. How much did we hear about poverty in the last election? How obscene is that. Lyndon, yours is the last voice I hear in my head when I think Poverty. A little Bill if I sit with it for a while.

One last thing. In 1971-72, that winter, I was living in the back of a white Rambler station wagon (American Motors, CEO George Romney hello again Salman) in a rest area in Phoenix, Arizona. There was a recession then, those old enough to remember, one would have to line up for blocks and hours to get gas. I parked my white Rambler station wagon in a rest area in Phoenix, Arizona, and moved only when the po-lice roused me.

In those days, that part of America was on the move. There were families living next to me in that rest area rolling across America from the dying industrial North and Northeast looking for work. I felt like Woody Guthrie and the dust bowl. At night we would make fires, I sang songs with a guitar, and on a good night someone showed up with a box of potatoes secured from who the hell knows where and we roasted them over the open fire. I had no food stamps ‘cuz I had no address.

That’s another reason I don’t care for this exercise. I had left home and another life and was trying to start over; I could not ask my parents for money and there wasn’t a home to retreat to. I considered crime.

I don’t talk about this story much, too soon. It was forty-one years ago.

james stone goodman, united states of america

Difficult to say "No"

Ursula Bamnolker

It's only the second day and already we (my daughter Isabella and I) have learned so much. I found the shopping part to be incredibly challenging. First of all, Isabella was with me. She had her own ideas about what we "needed" to get. And I have a hard time telling her "No" for food items. I grew up in a household where money was tight and was often told, "We can't afford that." I have avoided that lingo with my own daughter. I will either simply say "No" or will cave and get it for her. 

So, when I told her what we would be doing and how we would only be spending a certain amount of money, she had a very hard time understanding it. Last week, we had a discussion about what "middle class" means. (She had heard political ads on TV and wanted to know what it meant so I explained what lower (I used the word "poor" instead of lower), middle and upper class (I used the word rich instead of upper) meant. When I told her what we were doing, she said, "I don't want to be poor. Are we going to be poor now?" 

For a moment, I questioned our participation in this project. It brought back a lot of discomfort from my own childhood - discomfort that I have always wanted her to avoid. So I immediately responded, "No! No, we are not going to be poor. We are doing this to understand what it is like to be on Food Stamps. It's a good project to help us understand it." 

It was very hard to say "No" to different things in the store. We ended up going to Whole Foods the next day for Coconut Oil (something I just can't live without) and she asked for Probugs, a fun probiotic drink for kids - one of her favorite healthy, extremely over priced foods.  I said "No, that will put us over our budget."  I think this is the first time I have ever said anything to her about not getting something because we couldn't afford it. It made me feel awful to do this. Just awful. 

When we got to the check out counter, she started to lay it on thick, "I'm hungry. Can't I get something to eat?" (I had Coconut Oil and lentils in the basket.) "How about one of those?", she said, pointing to the Lance Armstrong Honey Treats near the register. "Okay," I said, caving. We went $1.76 over our budget. And she was happy. And I didn't feel like I was starving my child. 


Rabbi Susan Talve

Day 1 was thoughtful. Thinking about the victims of the hurricane who lost everything and would have to use 'food stamps" to build back their staples, condiments, etc. Thinking about how important it is to stock food pantries with healthy items that are hard to get in food deserts and just too expensive. Thinking about how if you don't have money for food, you don't have money for distractions and eating "comfort food" becomes an activity. Thinking about the food service director in the Food Stamped film who just wanted to give the children calories to fill their stomachs. Thinking about how there is a lot of wrong thinking out there. Remembering how the nutritionist at Children's hospital in the early 90's told us that calories were more important than our "organic" ideas and watching our kids get hooked on Spaghetti-Os and colored cereal with marshmallows in the hospital! Thinking about the other food service directors in the film teaching kids about healthy eating, exposing them to farms and gardens and delicious dishes with fresh vegetables that they ate! 

Day 1, Jim and I talked about what we would eat so that there would be enough for the week, trying to eat healthy and not be hungry, praying to be part of a movement that will grow a more just and healthier culture.  

Day 1

Michael Getty

Breakfast: 2 eggs each, two pieces of toast, and coffee
Lunch: Lentil soup and grilled cheese
Dinner: Elbow macaroni in marinara sauce, 3 carrots each

We bought two loaves of bread, and we're already halfway through the first one. Plenty of leftover lentil soup and pasta for lunch on Day 2. We figured out we left our one jar of peanut butter at Aldi's, and it will take about a third of our remaining budget to replace it. 

Scraping every morsel

Andrea Kaiser

I am noticing I am scraping every morsel from the pan I cook in, and the plate I eat off of, and thinking about food more often; even considering the time of my next meal, which I almost never do! I usually listen to my stomach. But I seem to fear not having enough food for my day.

Also, I just took my vitamins which I know feed my brain and my body, and figure vitamins are probably not on the grocery list.

Perhaps as I get away from house and engage in activities, I will be less fearful of the food issue. after all, this IS the first day! Any change is fearsome to some degree.

I use the phrase "Feel the fear and do it anyway!" as my reminder to stay on task! 

It's one thing to pretend

Michael DiPlacido

Here is what I bought for my one week Food Stamp Challenge:
$5.85     2 lbs. tilapia filets (8 filets)
$9.60     2 lbs.  skin-on salmon filets (8 filets)
$8.00     2.30 lbs. boneless ham steak
$23.45  Total Amount Spent

I figure it is enough for me to live on for the entire week.  I have $8.05 unspent from my budget.  If I run out of food to eat, or feel the need to eat more than what I have now, I will spend the remainder on additional items. 

Day 1: Today went well. I had only one meal, dinner. I worked hard baking challah at CRC this morning and afternoon. I ran some errands. Went home and relaxed for a few hours, and decided to fix dinner around 7:00 PM. My cooking routine changed as a result of the Challenge: instead of microwaving my meal, which is how I prepare virtually every meal, I used the broiler to cook my two pieces of raw fish. I am so used to Straub’s fully-cooked Lemon Pepper Tilapia and Grilled Salmon, I was a bit concerned that I would not like this new fare. But, I was pleasantly surprised: it was delicious.

My meal consisted of the following: 1 tilapia filet ($0.73), 1 salmon filet ($1.20), ½ lb ham steak (0.575 lb.) ($2.00) for a total of $3.93. So, I have 57 cents to carry over to a future meal, if I feel the need. 

It’s one thing to pretend that you are on food stamps, living on $31.50/week, but what we aren’t simulating here is all the other insufficiencies that many people on food stamps may endure.  Just the fact that I was able to “run some errands” this afternoon in my car, for example, sets me apart from a real food stamp recipient. Many people on food stamps don’t have a car, and thus are severely restricted in where and when they can go places, and what they can do. I am grateful for the independence that a car gives me to do the many things I want to do.  

Some people on food stamps don’t have heat or electricity in their houses or apartments simply because they can’t afford it. I’ve seen entire families living in one room of a two story house, because they can only afford to heat one room. I am grateful for my warm and well-lit home.   Many people on food stamps don’t have warm clothing to wear as the weather begins to get colder. I have more than enough clothing for all seasons; and if I need something new, I get into my car and drive to a store and buy what I need or want. I could go on and on. The point is that there can be so much more to “being on food stamps” than simply having only $31.50/week to spend on food. I am grateful for the opportunity this simulation gives me to consider these things.

Day 1 has gone okay.

Brian Vetruba

Day 1 has gone okay. One thing I noticed is that I'm viewing food much more as a scarce commodity. It's not that I ever thought it wasn't before; but, now it's hitting home at a personal level. I wanted to have a second sandwich for lunch today and Michael said we've already gone through half a loaf of bread and I probably shouldn't or else we might run out by the end of the week. This is also seems to require a lot of planning and coordination among family members.

I also don't know how you can do this and exercise. After spending time at the gym, I inhaled three of those small apples from Aldi at work. I also found a jolly rancher which I'm considering a condiment :)

Day 1

Susan Spiegel

I'm doing well nutrition-wise and satiety-wise.  I accidentally skipped a meal today; I didn't have breakfast until 11:30 & then skipped lunch other than a carrot. I enjoyed my dinner -- Greek lentils with rice and steamed broccoli, followed by an apple. 

The biggest challenge so far is planning the portions to make the food last. It's not something I usually think about; if I run out of food, I just go get more. Here I need to be more careful about measuring and considering  how many portions can be made from an item. Making these kinds of calculations on a regular basis would prove mentally taxing. I am also very aware of the lack of variety available through the few foods I was able to buy. Eating could easily become less a pleasure and more fulfillment of need, which is not entirely a bad thing in our over-consumption society.