To the future, and beyond!

   

We spent some time with our friend Tim from Rise Against this week. Please support his band.

We spent some time with our friend Tim from Rise Against this week. Please support his band.

Over the last month we’ve continued to reflect on our experience of eating on a dollar a day, and we’re still processing various aspects of the experiment.

The main question we’ve been left with, and the one that many of you wrote us about is: What does it cost to eat healthy in America?

So, we’re going to find out. We are embarking on a quest to discover the answer to this question. We’ve got our ideas and new experiments ready to go, and while we won’t list them right now, you can be sure that we’ll share our results.

In fact, it’s the impetus for our  book proposal concerning the subject. Through a number of new food-cost experiments, and research with professionals in nutrition, economics, and cultural studies, we will bring you with us on our journey. You’ll just have to be patient, and check back here for updates.

If you’re new to this site, please note that to start at the beginning you’ll have to click “older entries” and start from “Day One“, otherwise you’ll be reading in reverse; which could be interesting too.

Thanks for reading and sharing with us.

Warmly,

Christopher & Kerri

P.S. We think we’ve received the last of the donations, and will be calling the Community Resource Center tomorrow to schedule a donation and photo-op for the press. Hopefully this will bring more attention to the organization and the essential services they provide. Your donations totaled right around $1500, which is impressive considering that most of you are complete strangers who entrusted us with your money.

 

Inquiries should be directed to: Greenslate@gmail.com

25 Comments

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25 responses to “To the future, and beyond!

  1. AJ!

    Hey there….I am intrigued by your new project and book and look forward to continuing to follow it. However, I know you guys are vegans, and I am wondering if you intend to include all available food products in your project. Because while I am increasing my meatless meals, I don’t think being a vegan is in my future.

  2. Julia Kiechel

    Living in a state where gigantic persons are seen filling grocery carts with high cost negative nutritional “stuff”, I moan about lack of education about nutrition and food preparation. I applaud your work, and do encourage you to expand into some meated menus too. You can capitalize on the current economic state to get attention! yea.
    I’ll keep watching you. Best wishes for continuance. JK

  3. Rebecca

    If you are looking into what it takes to eat healthfully and on a budget in the US, you should definitely check out the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, NY: http://foodcoop.com/. It is a coop run by members (all 12,000 of us) that is dedicated to organic, sustainable and free trade items that are affordable. Organic produce in the coop is usually cheaper than non-organic produce in the local grocery store chains.

  4. Ann

    I found your adventure through the NYTimes. There are people managing to eat healthily on $1/day/person–here’s a blog of a family of 5 whose grocery budget is $40/week (http://www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom/35_and_40_menus/index.html)–their budget includes paper goods and diapers too. However, she is an expert coupon and sale shopper. It definitely takes work, and I think it’s easier when you’re cooking for more people to eat healthy AND cheaply.

    I’ve also seen people cite the Hillbilly Housewife’s $35/week budget for a family of 4 to 6–slightly over your goal, but it does include some produce (http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/40dollarmenu.htm).

    I thought the food stamp budget was $1/meal, not $1/day? I got $73/week for a family of 4 on the USDA calculator at http://www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns/

  5. Tom

    Wow – this is an exciting project you guys are embarking on! Here are my thoughts:

    I’ve never been vegan, but I guess I’d be willing to go that way if it saves money and definitely gives me enough COMPLETE protein every day (all essential amino acids, and ~100 grams per day, which is based on 2,000 calorie/day diet and 20% protein, at 4 calories per gram.) Is this do-able?

    I guess fat is supposed to be another 20% of a healthy diet, and it’s 9 calories per gram, so ~ 44 grams per day. We all know that this fat should come from nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil (fish oil is best for omega-3’s, but walnuts have a good amount too. I know flax seeds are supposed to be good too, but I seem to be allergic to them, so I hope you’ll avoid them).

    I guess the rest (carbs) should be from whole grains (esp. brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and oatmeal, all of which have the added benefit of being “non-gluten”), plus whatever colorful vegies and fruit you can squeeze in. I trust you will avoid sugar and flour and keep salt well within the recommended daily limits. Corn should really also be avoided – we use it to fatten cows, and it seems to have the same effect on people who eat a lot of it (think about it a bit). The controversy over corn syrup should add to your determination to avoid cornmeal, etc.

    Finally, I hope you’ll focus on delicious “ethnic” recipies…. anything but northern European stuff (mayonaise, butter, cream – yuck!). There’s a whole world of fabulous recipies to choose from – Moroccan, Ethiopian, Lebanese, Persian, Turkish, Afghan, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, etc.

    For instance, the best green veggie dishes I’ve ever had have been Ethiopian collard greens, Chinese spinach or broccoli sauteed w/ garlic, and Persian “gormeh sabzi”, which is made with various herbs, kidney beans and served over rice. The Afghanis make a similar dish – forget the name.

    Anyway, best of luck to you guys – let me know if I can be of further help.
    Tom

  6. Pat Horrocks

    I’ll bet my 80 y.o. mother could do this, at least in the summer and fall, as she has a garden. (Actually, since she cans and freezes she would do okay until spring.) She never throws anything out. I have learned a lot from her, making soups, for example, but have been unable to pass it on to my kids. I once lived on $8 a week for meals but that was in the 70’s.

  7. Jennifer

    I think your research is awesome! I live in the midwest, so I was going to suggest gardening to you both! That is what we do here in the spring/summer thru fall and than harvest and can and freeze items for the winter! My friends and family also receive holiday gifts of my homemade salsa! Very inexpensive way to have fresh, and good fruits and vegetables, and also inexpensive gifts, that I put my heart and sweat into in order to make! I get what you mean by time consuming though on making things from scratch. Aug-Sept I am booked harvesting the garden, but it is soooo worth it!

  8. I love Rise Against. Their new album is amazing.🙂

  9. Anna T

    I just read through all of your blog, finding it after reading the NYT article.
    It is fascinating.

    I have several questions: before embarking on this projects, have you given any thought that it might permanently affect your health? Have you consulted with your doctors? Your weight loss was probably mostly muscle, so it might take some time to regain that, and did you have adequate calcium in your diet? I am thinking about risk of osteoporosis in women…

    Another question that came to mind, how would this project differ for a meat eater? Are vegan products still cheaper?

    Also, what your research showed, is that obviously a typical male’s caloric needs are higher than females, and Christopher seemed to suffer much more. In your experiment, you shared food equally; however in a real family, where a woman is the one preparing and serving food, she is more likely to give a bigger portion for her husband.

  10. Amanda Pingel

    Could you put a link to Day One on the main page? It took me 10 minutes of wandering around to find that link.

  11. Sponge Bob

    Okay, so how much weight did you guys loose?

  12. ann

    Re: Rebecca, Nov. 3
    The co-op is a great idea for all but the working poor who are highly unlikely to have time to spend volunteering at a food co-op. They usually live far from them, and adding another commute, even once a week, is often out of the question. So is time for additional education. It becomes a feedback loop of poverty, poor nutrition, poor health, decreased earning power, illness, poverty, obesity, disillusionment, hopelessness, etc., etc., etc…

  13. I had a lot of the same thoughts as Anna T – worry for long term health and fertility, especially. Muscle loss could have been significant, as well as bone density and tooth demineralization.

    I hate to be such a kill-joy, but all that starch can wreak havoc on glucose regulation (though admittedly, with such a low calorie level, the damage could be somewhat less than on a higher calorie intake) and regulating the blood glucose could stress the pancreas with a lot of pro-inflammatory insulin production. Plus soy foods (especially industrial soy preparations as opposed to naturally prepared fermented soy) can be a powerful thyroid inhibitor, not to mention all those phyto-estrogens bombarding the system in an already estrogen-mimicking environement.

    Lack of healthy, natural fatty acids was one of my other concerns, because those are so important for dental and bone health. All the calcium in the world won’t help if the fat-soluble vitamins aren’t included as well as optimal levels of Vitamin D3. Refined vegetable oils are not a good substitute for the natural fats that have traditionally sustained humans.

    While in the short term, fertility might not be impaired to the point of not being able to conceive, I shudder to think of what subtle effects this restrictive diet might to optimal fertility in the long-term in terms of producing unaffected babies.

    I try really hard to avoid industrially produced animal products for myself and my family, but I also make great effort to source nutrient-dense meat, eggs, and poultry from small producers here in SD county (even “backyard farmers”). While $1 a day would not provide for that option, it isn’t as expensive as it might seem (the hard part is making the connections because it often involved buying “under the table”), and when one goes “old fashioned” and makes stews, soups, and organ meat dishes, aiming for the “nose-to-tail” ideal of using the entire animal, rather than just the premium boneless cuts, it’s not only economical, it’s far more nutritious than boring but expensive premium boneless cuts. True, buying in bulk and freezing require cash up front, but can create great savings in the long run. Bone broths and slow simmered techniques make great use of the really cheap budget cuts that few people want in the era of 15 minute meal prep, but it does require a different mindset and priorities. Plus, if one can find direct sources from the producer (or better yet, raise them at home), it’s better to choose animals who lived lives without the stress of industrial feedlot confinement and unnatural diets.

  14. Biplab

    interesting project – good log.
    as someone involved in development and livelihood support for the poor, i wonder how your experience can be used to motivate the “haves” & “have more” population to contribute to, or invest in, equitable growth and development.
    best regards,

  15. Kat

    I read your entire story and was totally surprised at the lack of creativity in your food choices. You ate garbanzos and rice – had you considered falafel? I make it into patties for burgers, “chicken” nuggets for the kids, “meatballs” for my spaghetti. It’s cheap and easy. It allows for the fruits and veggies lacking in your diet. Take the flavor packet out of your ramen and put it in your falafel. Eat the noodles as a side dish. Homemade noodles – flour, water and an egg. I can feed all five of us off of a batch. The flour helps thicken the liquid in the foods and makes it more filling. (homemade noodles, one can of tuna, maybe 50 cents, a 1/4 cup of frozen peas, part of a grated carrot) supper for five…. I know your diet was vegan, but the simple ways you could have added veggies was lost. I buy veggies and divide them into bags for the freezer. I’m not talking bulk, or anything expensive. One head of broccoli, for instance, can be a soup, one little florette, will enhance a noodle dish, the stem adds bulk to a falafel stir fry – already three meals. That carrot you were eating – cut it in strips (thin strips) and add to the stir fry dish for color and crunch, add part of it grated to a soup. I plan my menus up to a month ahead so I can calculate what I will need to feed all of us. The kids are fortunate to get free lunch at school.
    I was invited to a fast food restaurant the other day. I got too much food, catsup and salt in the bag that I don’t use (what a waste), and a handful of napkins. I saved all the extra. I have realized the food crisis and I save all sorts of things that people in our “throw away” society don’t think about. I have been making survival packs out of things people wouldn’t even think to save. Your perception of “poor” truly changes when you live it everyday. Where even a cookie is a luxury.

  16. Stan

    Christopher and Kerri,
    I just learned of your adventure and read your entire blog today. Who really knows what leads us to do the things we do? I just want to say that not only will your lives be forever changed from this…but also how many others you have touched and inspired by your curiousity, thoughtfulness and courage. You are a blessing and may you have all your blessings returned to you in kind. Onward and upward….Stan Rush Oatmeal,Tx. (lol…sorry but that’s where I really live)

  17. You guys know Tim?! Rise Against is my favorite band.! Luckies.

    Anyway. Nice project. I have no clue what to really say since I’m only 14 and cant really write an inspirational thing. haha.
    But keep it up.🙂

  18. My wife, 2 kids, & me (2 & 5) budget for $400 a month on food. My wife does amazing things like make her own chicken broth (freezes it in the ice trays) and preserves all that extra turkey from Thanksgiving to be used for months later. We eat incredibly healthy with a different meal every day for dinner. We also eat out once every 2 months for date night with our young couples from church. We used to spend much more until my wife started taking over the budget a few months ago.

    It’s a ll about planning. My wife plans out meals for the entire month in advance. It prevents impulse shopping. We are also in the process of adopting children (brother 4 & 14) so we are expecting the cost to go up a bit with the addition of a teenager.

    We shop almost exclusively at Wal-Mart except organic milk from Publix. I really respect what you guys did, rock on!!

  19. That just proves that $1.00 eating barely enough to survive does not make you lose as much as people think it would.

  20. Cheyenne

    What you two are doing is AWESOME!
    The idea that Americans are not healthy, is not new…. However, your inventive $1.00 a day diet really shows how the scales are tipped towards junk food.

    My family consists of 2 Celiac Disease members so we cannot have anything with wheat, rye, barley, or malt. This makes cheap eating almost impossible. Since our diet change my groceries have gone up by $200.00 a month.

    Thank you so much for bringing awareness to this issue. Especially for the school systems!!!!

  21. did you donate the 150.00 weekly you were spending on groceries. 600.00 monthly?? please let the readers know what you did with your grocery money.

  22. I only heard of Rise Against from playing Guitar Hero III. I love that song “Prayer Of The Refugee”. Great way to get new audiences to your music.

    I came to this blog from seeing a video on Yahoo! today. What you guys are doing is amazing. Keep enlightening us with your discoveries.

  23. Eating healthy cheaply depends upon how far you are from the source. In rural Alaska where everything has to be flown in (no roads), food is very expensive if you don’t grow it yourself. A gallon of milk was almost $10 in Barrow this summer. Big gardens and supplementing with local berries and hunting are a must for keeping costs reasonable.

  24. Sonia

    I enjoyed reading about your experiment and kudos on the conversations about global impact that you started.

    As Peace Corps volunteer (Honduras) fifteen years ago, I decided I wanted to eat what a regular family in my village ate. I worked out an arrangement with my neighbor, and she gave me exactly what the rest of the family got. Beans, salt and tortillas. Lunch and dinner, for three years. Once every three weeks I might get a small slice of cheese. Occasionally, an egg. Once in a while a palm sized taco with shredded cabbage and a little spoonful of meat or dressing.

    I was bored, bored, bored with the lack of variety. Then after a while, it stopped.

    What I discovered was this. In my occasional visits to the city, I would feast on things like pizza, pasta, chinese, beer, every day something different, along with my fellow Peace Corps volunteers. After four days, we started feeling yucky. “I need my beans…” we’d say as we rubbed our tummies.

    After years of a simple and boring diet, my body was finally actually able to communicate when it was getting stuff that was not good for it. Prior to that it had been too clogged with the crappy stuff to be able to do so.

    A simple and boring diet, made with food grown on the mountainside above the village, with only occasional temptations to eat anything else, was probably the best thing that I could have done for myself. It was a three year detox!

    Your one month experiment hit the snag of boredom. I do remember the hours we spent as volunteers talking about the different food we missed from the States! Hours and hours and hours. But you can pass through to the other side.

    Detoxing can be uncomfortable, people can experience aches and pains and headaches and well-meaning people who tell them they need to eat because they’re making themselves sick and weak. But this too is a stage that once you pass it, you feel great, healthy and energized.

  25. Have you got to use a card to put the order?

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