Monthly Archives: April 2009

French Toast to “The Rescue.”

We had french toast for breakfast today. I know what you’re thinking. “WHAT?! FRENCH TOAST?!”

If you think about it though, its a pretty cheap thing to make. Most folks just use bread soaked in a mixture of milk and eggs, and it originated as a way to use stale bread. It could be argued that it was invented by those who couldn’t afford to waste food. We used our own recipe that doesn’t call for eggs, but it was still an inexpensive breakfast treat. However, this morning meal wasn’t our idea.

As some of you know, we’ve started our next experiment, in which our meals have been laid out for us by the USDA. We’re on our way to finishing the first week, and so far so good. Mostly. We’ll detail all of it in the book, but with the amount of money we’re allowed to spend, we’re a little worried we won’t make it through the month. That being said, it is much easier than eating on a dollar a day.

However, my middle of the night runs to the bathroom weren’t very pleasant.

Even though this experience has been much more enjoyable than our jaunt in September, today will be a challenge.

We’re participating in “The Rescue“, an event organized by the San Diego based non-profit Invisible Children. The event requires that we show up in downtown San Diego at 3 p.m. and march to our “camp” where we will wait, with thousands of other people, to be “rescued”. The event is taking place in 100 cities, and in 10 countries, in order to bring awareness about the child soldiers who have been forced to kill in Africa’s longest running war. Most of the participants in today’s event will camp out until they are “rescued” by politicians and celebrities. The goal is to get these moguls on board to help rescue the child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army.

Participating in something like this while maintaining our economically reduced diet is a challenge, as it forces us to prepare food in advance, and plan meals that are portable, while making sure that we are getting the right type of nutrition (as prescribed by the USDA).

Breakfast today was a nice treat; much better than the cooked rice cereal we had earlier in the week.

Yet, most of our nation’s poor don’t have this luxury. Hopefully folks in need will have breakfast as a result of the Kellog Co’s recent efforts. The world’s largest cereal maker has pledged to give $10 million dollars worth of Rice Krispies, Frosted Mini-Wheats, and others cereals to food banks in order to help meet the 30 percent increase in demand, according to Bloomberg.

While this is fantastic, it’s not going to make a meaningful shift for the hungry in our nation. According to Joel Berg, the author of “All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?”, food banks and charities feed only two percent of our nation’s hungry. The other 36.2 million people need access to efficient government run programs that are serious about ending food insecurity in our country.

In considering federal involvement in the United States food supply, and the budgets that guide the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps), it would be smart to consider a report released earlier this month from the Congressional Budget Office which shows that the rising cost in food cannot be blamed solely on the production of corn-based ethanol. Corn manufacturers and other industry folks are calling for an investigation in to why food costs have continued to climb despite lower fuel costs. This report puts the brakes on the “food vs. fuel” debate that was popular last year. I posted a link a while back about how food manufacturers claim that lower fuel costs just need to work their way through the system until consumers start to save.

In other news, the USDA will conduct their first wide-spread survey of organic agriculture this spring; the results of which will help shape the future of the industry according to the trade publication Farm and Dairy.

If you’re looking for something to do tonight, consider joining “The Rescue” in a town near you. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap and great tasting breakfast, consider re-purposing that old bread in your fridge.

– Christopher

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WE’RE BACK!

marybethtinkerThere we were. I could feel the energy in the room. I’ve been talking about her for years, and finally I would get the chance to talk to her. I wanted to tell her how I’ve admired her from a far. How there had been times when she was the focus of all my thoughts. Times when it seemed like no one else was important. And now I would get the chance to be noticed by her. I could feel her spirit within me. I sat down a few feet from her, and there she was. Her small frame held up by a story that has empowered millions to take a stand.

Life had finally helped my path cross with Mary Beth Tinker.

As a 13 year old girl, Mary Beth wore a black arm band to school to protest the Vietnam war. The principal asked her to take it off; she did. Little did she know that four years later in 1969 the courts would decide that students don’t check their constitutional rights at the school house gate, and that her name would be forever remembered in the context of “Tinker v. Des Moines“.

Last Thursday, Kerri and I chaperoned students to the Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Phoenix. Seeing Mary Beth Tinker was a once in a lifetime kind of thing for me, and needless to say I savored every moment.

Throughout the conference I kept saying to myself, ‘MUST BLOG’. I know as much as anyone how annoying it is to start reading something only to feel abandoned when the writer disappears. I don’t know what I would do if Nick Kristof just stopped writing one day.

But…life happens, and ‘MUST BLOG’ became a faint murmur drowned out by the needs of students, parents, and everything else.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been monumentally busy, and as a result the blog has suffered. We apologize.

Kerri spent nearly two weeks chaperoning a student trip to Greece, during which time I prepared to gear us up for the next project. Once Kerri returned, we were off to chaperon students in Phoenix for a few days.

Now that we’re back, we’ve started our latest project. We can’t reveal too much here, but I can say that it’s already presenting some new challenges, and that on day two we’re learning even more about the economics of eating. We can tell you that we’re following a plan devised by the USDA. We’ve also decided to keep a video diary of things from now on, which will be available in parts when the book comes out.

Oh yeah, and I’ve been reading like mad. Since we’ve joined this conversation about food, it only makes sense to see what other people have said. I won’t list the ten titles I’ve read this month, but if you get the chance pick up a copy of “Stuffed and Starved” by Raj Patel, or “All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?” by Joel Berg. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. They are both insightful, smart and engaging writers.

If a book seems like too much of a commitment, you might want to check out this article from the Wall Street Journal about how food companies are trying to get your business amidst a rare slump in sales, or maybe you’ll feel compelled to learn that your addiction to sweets isn’t your fault?

Either way, you can expect to hear from us every Saturday from this point forward. Promise.

– Christopher

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April Food Day.

april-food-day-logo

This blog started as way for our family and friends to follow us as we embarked on a learning experiment to see if we could eat on a dollar a day. As we are both Social Justice teachers, part of this idea originated with our curiosity about issues related to poverty. Over the course of the experiment we raised $2300 for our local food pantry, the Community Resource Center.

Today, many bloggers are coming together to make a difference related to issues of hunger, and have named the day April Food Day. It seems fitting, considering that local food banks nationwide have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people looking for assistance. If you can, please consider donating to your local food bank or Feeding America.

In addition to issues of food stamp increases hitting headlines today as many states elevate assistance as the stimulus trickles in, the latest food recallĀ  is also making citizens uneasy about government food safety procedures. While it boggles my mind that there are 15 government agencies that play a role in this process, I was happy to learn that scientists are looking for new ways to keep us safe.

On the sustainability front, the Crunchy Chicken blog is challenging people to eat “sustainably” on the dollar equivalent of food stamps for the month of April. While some may have the luxury of trying this out, many people are too busy learning how to cook now that times are tight. And this back-to-the-kitchen movement has helped strengthen kitchenware sales, and even pushed restaurants towards giving away food.

Enjoy April Food Day, and consider doing what you can to help others.

– Christopher

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