Let Them Eat Arugula

Monday, January 18, 2010

Okay so I used to be really good about keeping up with my email and actually responding to friends who sent me messages and then suddenly it all went to hell and I never answer anyone anymore and things get buried for months and months and no one knows if I’m dead or alive. Unless they’re reading this blog. And even then sometimes it’s hard to tell.

So I got a message a few weeks ago that I just finally managed to look at from a friend who sent a link to a food blog where someone did a “hunger challenge” and the hunger challenge — set up by the United Way of King County (Seattle, Washington) — was $7 a day.

Seven dollars!

Holy cow. That’s more than twice as much as I spend when I’m not even trying to save money! My challenge with $7 would be able to figure out what the heck to spend it on.

Geez louise.

But I read the post anyway and it it had some interesting points but the whole blog actually feels almost like a parody to me. Maybe I just don’t read enough food blogs, but all I can think of this very funny parody of Martha Stewart that I saw a few years ago called, “Is Martha Stewart Living?” One of the “articles” was about how to make your own water. “It’s a simple recipe, really. Two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen…”

So that’s what I thought of as I read this one.

I think it was the hibiscus tea that pushed me over the edge.

And I have to say that I agree with the commenter who said it seemed like the blogger kind of missed the spirit of the challenge.

On the other hand, I think it’s good for people who don’t think much about how much food costs to think about how much food costs, even if the limit they’re working under doesn’t seem much like a limit to me.

And while I was looking at all the UWKC links, I came across this article about someone who has worked on food issues for many years, and includes some interesting points about foodies, the local food movement, and food insecurity. And just so we all know the world is still spinning on its axis, he offers the requisite slam of Whole Foods.

4 Responses to “Let Them Eat Arugula”

  1. Ginger Says:

    Gosh, 7 bucks a day?! I’m assuming that’s per person so… $14 per day for my husband and me. Let’s see, that’s about $420 per month. The way I see it, that’s beef tenderloin and good wine, not rice and beans (which I love, by the way). I guess it’s all relative.

    My husband and I have been through some hard times over the last couple of years (things are pretty darn good right now, though – thank you) and I have seriously learned how to save money on groceries. It’s actually a challenge that I enjoy. We moved from the city with lots of grocery stores and price shopping ops to a small isolated town with one (ok two, but they’re owned by the same people) store with no competition. It has been more of a challenge to save money on groceries, but I still manage. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    The UWKC challenge is actually $12 for two people — they list the amount for multi-person households in a table on their project page. It’s based on the maximum food stamp allotment per person. I’m not sure how many people who apply for food stamps get the maximum allotment.

    And also I should say that I can see how someone really struggling could need $7/day to get things together, I just don’t think it should be much of a challenge for people with a kitchen and pantry and good cooking skills and plenty of time and energy to think about shopping and cooking.

  3. Speaking as someone who moved to Seattle 10 years ago after growing up near Birmingham and spending my early adult years in Philadelphia, food is more expensive here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I’ve never done any formal research as to why, but I’m guessing it’s because of transportation costs and possibly also because our local minimum wage is set higher than the national one, which must increase grocers’ operating costs. While I agree that the blogger linked above kinda missed the point, IMHO $7 in Seattle would be more like $5 anywhere else I’ve lived.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    I did wonder about that, whether food costs were substantially higher there. I remember talking to someone once who had graduated from college and moved to New York City, and when she went home to visit her family in Virginia played a game called “Guess How Much This Costs in New York City.” She would hold up, say, an apple and ask how much they thought it cost and they’d give a number and the actual number was always nearly twice whatever they had guessed. And they’d be like, “No way!!”

    So I do know that food costs vary greatly by region.

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