Some Notes for New Readers
Friday, March 13, 2009
For people who’ve heard about my project in the mainstream media and are visiting my site for the first time, I’d like to make a few comments.
The first is that the point of the project was not to suggest that anyone could do this, or that anyone should even try to do it, but to show the types of things that are available at very low cost (so low cost that I could get them with only a dollar) and to demonstrate strategies for low-cost shopping and eating that are different from what is usually suggested.
Ironically, one of my “tips” to Good Morning America turned into exactly the opposite of what I’ve been trying to say. When I talked about buying “bulk,” I was standing in front of bulk bins in the Whole Foods and I was talking about buying “bulk food”—i.e., buying from bulk bins where you can get a little or a lot for the same unit price—but they translated that into buying “in bulk,” meaning buying large quantities. Which is an approach that everyone else touts that I don’t support at all. In order to buy in bulk, you need a vehicle to get things, you need space to store it, and you need large amounts of money up front that not everyone has and that also reduces the money available for buying things like fruits and vegetables that you should get every day. I’m a proponent of shopping frequently and buying just what you need to get you through the next few days, while keeping your pantry and freezer stocked with things you use all the time so when you shop you can just get a few things (i.e., meat or other protein source, produce, dairy) and make complete, nutritious meals out of them.
Also I can’t emphasize enough that this project was not designed as the “Rebecca Currie Lifetime Diet and Fitlness Plan.”
It was a self-contained, thirty day project where I attempted to eat for a dollar a day, starting with no food (I couldn’t use any food from my pantry or freezer) and the first day having two dollars available for buying food, and each day after that getting another dollar. Any money I didn’t spend rolled over and could be used on future days. I only ate what I was able to buy—no homegrown, foraged, or donated food. (And no dumpster diving!)
Because of the extreme (and extremely artificial) conditions of the project, there was only so much I could do in terms of my food options, and I wasn’t trying to say that you could be perfectly healthy on a dollar a day (especially when you start with no food and have only a dollar each day, that’s just ridiculous).
I chose to eat a more limited amount of food in an effort to eat more “normal” meals (i.e., things other people might actually want to eat), because I felt fine physically with less food than I expected, and after starting, I decided that was the direction I wanted the project to go in.
The quantities of food I ate were very limited, and therefore the quantities of fruits and vegetables I ate were limited. I wouldn’t want to try to live long-term on a diet like that, and I wouldn’t suggest that other people live on a diet like that even short-term. But I think overall the types of food and proportions I ate were not bad (though not the portion sizes, which were quite small).
Another thing I’d like to make perfectly clear is that I was not trying to tell people specifically what they should do to save money on groceries—it was not designed as a “how-to” in the sense of “you should do A, B, C, and everything will be fine.”
I’m glad that so many people have found it useful, and I did hope that it would give people ideas, but I didn’t intend it as a straight “how-to” and you shouldn’t try to read it as that.