Return from Gotham City.

On our trip to the United Nations in New York City, we learned about Plumpy'Nut, a high protein, peanut-based food used in famin relief.

On our trip to the United Nations in New York City, we learned about Plumpy'Nut, a high protein, peanut-based food used in famine relief.

Kerri and I were in New York City recently, and during that time we spent far more than a dollar a day on food. In fact, I had restaurant outings planned before we left for the trip. Having traveled to the big apple before, there were a few places I wanted to make sure that we visited: Hangwai, Red Bamboo, Candle Cafe, Blossom, and Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, just to name a few.

Yet, what we learned during our visit to the United Nations about feeding programs around the world stood in stark contrast to our extravagant eating patterns as trendy jet-setting idealists. While we were eating seared seitan on my birthday, millions of children were eating Plumpy’Nut; a peanut-based food used for famine relief which was invented by French scientist in 1999. I had never heard of Plumpy’Nut before, and assume that most folks haven’t, so I’ve re-printed some of the basics,

“The Plumpy’nut product is a high protein and high energy peanut-based paste in a foil wrapper. It tastes slightly sweeter than peanut butter. It is categorized by the World Health Organization as a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

Plumpy’nut requires no water preparation or refrigeration, making it easy to deploy in difficult conditions to treat severe acute malnutrition. However, it must be used under medical supervision and the nutritional status of the children has to be clearly identified by a doctor or a nutritionist. It has a two year shelf life when unopened. The product was inspired by the popular Nutella spread. It is manufactured by Nutriset, a French company based in Normandy Rouen, fully dedicated to humanitarian relief, specialized in products to treat malnutrition, used by humanitarian stakeholders (international organisations and non-governmental organisations basically) for distribution. The ingredients are: peanut paste, vegetable oil, powdered milk, powdered sugar, vitamins, and minerals, combined in a foil pouch. Each 92g pack provides 500 kcal or 2.1 MJ.

Plumpy’nut contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, and K, and minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, sodium, and selenium.”

As I held the pouch in my hand, I wanted to taste it, but unfortunately they don’t sell Plumpy’Nut at the U.N. coffee shop. However, during our tour of the U.N. we were reminded of the millions of people who are barely getting enough to eat, and the millions more who get sick and die as a result of global poverty.

However, while we live a life far from poverty, New York City isn’t exactly a cheap place to visit.

Traveling can make it difficult to eat affordably, but we managed to pick up a box of cereal, soymilk, and orange juice to eat each day for breakfast. We definitely could have done more “home” cooking, as our hotel had both a refrigerator and a microwave, but part of the experience on holiday is to enjoy the foods available in the part of the world that you’re visiting; and enjoy them we did.

In addition to eating well, seeing some sites, going to The Daily Show and watching the Yankees sweep the Boston Red Sox, we were also lucky enough to sit down with the folks at Hyperion who are working on the release of our book for January. We are very pleased with everything we learned from them, and we’re really excited to have such a supportive group of people to help us bring the book to all of you.

As of now, the first draft of the manuscript is complete, and we’ll be doing editing from here on out.

– Christopher



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7 responses to “Return from Gotham City.

  1. Hi.. I’m in NYC………. between mortgage and food it is insane living here.

    Home cooking of organic food is 3 times more expensive than non-organic food.

    I stopped eating organic food for 2 months to have money for museums and stuff this summer.. and now went back to it. I felt more tired and just drained..

    I have to say I hardly buy any clothes unless on super super super sale.. like 40.00 pants for 4.00 .. or at end of winter 100 coats for 20 and 15 plus minus 10 for opening a Sear’s card.. so 25 for 2… coats that were a total of 200.

    Food and Mortgage just makes it impossible to spend on anything. I cook for friends and if I’m dating…

    But I have to say good thing I’m a woman and 48 and men in my age group would never never let a woman chip in or go dutch for dinners and lunches.. (they grew up old-school). If I had to be a modern woman and pay for dates.. I would never get to dine out.

    I do cook great.. to compensate ..

  2. Isn’t PlumpyNut amazing? 60 minutes did a special on it awhile back. It can prevent the malnutrition in impoverished children which is so frequently the cause of illness and death (in large part because malnutrition makes treating other conditions exponential more difficult). Doctor’s Without Boarders is one of the primary distributors of the products; donating to them in other’s names makes for a lovely, meaningful gift. (Speaking from experience, I’m in no way affiliated).
    Thanks for bringing attention to this outstanding development in famine/malnutrition relief.

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  4. nonegiven

    I can’t really tell if you think Plumpy’nut is a good or bad thing.

    Personally, I think it’s really shameful that Plumpy’nut is the best option the UN can come up with for malnourished children around the world (malnourishment that is often caused by impoverished people trying to raise cash commodity crops to sell on the market to pay off their nation’s massive loans instead of raising nourishing indigenous foods to feed their own people as they did in the past).

    Sure, Plumpy-nuts will keep kids alive and fed in the short term, but the product is full of processed garbage ingredients (vegetable oil and powdered milk in particular) that ironically, if consumed on a regular basis, will contribute to the same chronic diseases that plague wealthier industrial countries (Plumpy’nut is not too far off the processed junk food products many American kids and adults eat daily – check those candy bars, I mean, protein bars and meal replacement shakes).

    We also economize on food when traveling in expensive locations. On car trips I pack a small cooler for snacks and motel breakfasts. A microwave or small drip coffee maker is nice for heating water for coffee with an Aeropress (manual espresso/Americano maker).

    A fridge is nice for refreezing freezer paks, and keeping on hand cream/half & half; plain whole milk yogurt (if I can find it); aged cheese; fruit; nuts; and if I can find it locally, nice prosciutto, salami (preferably traditionally made), or a small package of smoked/cured fish like salmon or mackerel. I miss having my daily “backyard” eggs cooked lightly in butter, though (sometimes I can find hardboiled eggs though).

    Unless it creates air travel issues, I often travel with a small picnic kit (cutting board and a good knife, even a heavy duty plastic knife wrapped up in an old kitchen towel in my suitcase) so I can make a cold plate to start the day instead of eating at a restaurant (I can even prepare this in the car if necessary. This plan saves time and money. We are set for many hours on a traditional European-style breakfast like this, able to push the next meal off until mid-afternoon or beyond. Between gluten and blood sugar issues in our family, cereal and baked goods aren’t good options for us. We do better with natural fats and protein to start the day.

  5. djteknokid

    Christopher and Kerri,

    I am also doing a similar project like you guys did. We have different purpose of running the campaign, but I think we will have similar experiences at the end. I am trying to live 20 days with $20.09, and I just got the shopping done for the first ten days.

    What was the hardest moment for you guys? I am kind of afraid that I am not getting enough vitamin.

  6. This is quite impressive, I am pleased to read this post, keep posts like this coming, you totally rock!

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