Like many of you, who follow this blog, we too were surprised to see that the spirit of our project has continued to captivate people during this time of economic belt-tightening. Yesterday, a woman named Rebecca Currie appeared in a segment on Good Morning America about her efforts to eat on one dollar a day. The results? Buy what you need. Shop around. Don’t waste.
We discovered the same things in our original exercise back in September. The TV piece was based on an article written by Kristen Mascia of People Magazine, which came out on newsstands Friday, in which Currie claims (as she does on her blog) that we didn’t do a good job of eating well on such a small amount of money. After reading through her blog, it seems like a lot of the same challenges we faced came up for her as well. And while I was hoping to learn something from her experiment, I am sad to say that I didn’t.
Now, in comparison to the Standard American Diet, both of our experiments were better in some ways, but that’s not saying much. People in our country overeat, they eat far too many animal products, and not enough plants. Additionally, there’s no reason to eat chicken or eggs for protein, when beans and rice are cheaper and meet the same need, without the cholesterol, or the environmental impacts of factory farming. For people who care for animals, there’s also their suffering to consider.
It could be argued that some of what she made was “more balanced” than some of our dishes, but the results were largely the same. Especially when it came to eating fresh foods. We could afford some fresh foods, as shown on the days when we had salads, oranges, and soups made with broccoli and potatoes, but both our’s and Rebecca’s exercises in extreme eating underscored one of our main conclusions: the produce section was largely out of reach for those on a limited budget.
The main difference between our projects, was that we were trying to survive, and she was trying to make a point about healthy eating.
While the b-roll on Good Morning America shows colorful selections of produce, and the photo in People has Currie at a Whole Foods, both images are misleading. Luckily the folks at Good Morning America had the sense to invite a nutritionist on to the show to assess the meals available for a small amount of money, and she made clear that Currie, like us, didn’t get enough to eat, and that adding things like fresh fruit to a morning bowl of oats is what makes a diet more healthful. Again, fresh foods. Particularly fruits and vegetables. Like Currie, we also ate some fruits and vegetables, but not nearly enough. And overall, both of our experiences had us eating very little. Currie states that she set out to challenge our claim that you can’t eat fresh foods on a dollar a day, and at the end it was clear that she proved us right.
We agree with Currie that it is absolutely possible to eat healthful for less, and we know that many Americans are learning the same lesson right now; and not because they’re blogging. We’re thrilled that our little experiment could keep this conversation about the economics of food going for so long.
In closing, we want to congratulate Rebecca for finishing her project, and look forward to chatting with her soon to compare insider notes on the experience!