In September of 2008, two Social Justice teachers decided to start eating on one dollar a day. The month long experiment taught them a lot about food, economics, and nutrition, but the couple was left with more questions than answers.
Since the original experiment ended, Christopher and Kerri have continued to consider and question the economics of eating well, and have started some new trials that will be recounted in their forthcoming book on Hyperion in January of 2010.
You can pre-order the book here: Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound
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You both are inspiring. We waste too much food without thinking of those who don’t have anything to eat. I love your project! Keep it up Profe!
Wow! I will have, no I will make, my 12 year old read about your project. She has no sense of what the rest of the world goes through and is so consumed by her wants – not needs – that she makes me feel guilty about not giving her what she wants, when she wants it.
Come to think of it, it will be a great social experiment that should be required of all middle and high school students.
Keep it up!
Your project is really interesting and thought provoking. It is too easy to forget that a lot of us are afforded a lot of privilege.
Great writing too! I would love to see the food cost index when you are finished.
How long do you plan to keep it up? It sounds as if you have a goal in mind.
Your experiment reminds me, of course, of Super Size Me (I haven’t seen it, but like to ascribe it the noble intention of personal sacrifice for the whole)…and you’ve touched on the issue of how cheap food is usually the least wholesome. As water becomes more scarce and the human population continues to expand, most of us will have to figure out how to eat well with little resources.
Thanks for living this reality and sharing with the rest of us.
So my big question, as I’m reading your entries, is how you might get more fruits & veggies in to your diets, on a dollar a day? I just got back from Slow Food Nation in San Fran where a local org there had created a foraging map for several areas of their region. It looks likes foraging in kosher for you all, so I’m wondering if you can start scouting out the local produce available along the sidewalks of Enciniatas? Also, would you be able to talk with farmers at the local farmers markets about taking their battered/banged up produce at the end of the day? I know at the San Diego Hillcrest famers market there is one producer who sells is “soups & stews” tomatoes, as he calls them, for $1.00/pound?
Can’t wait to see your recipes . . .
Best of luck! I think this is a really thought-provoking project you’ve undertaken.
man, i hope you guys make it the whole month…
i was able to go 30 days in Japan on less than 3 dollors (U.S.) a day, but it involved alot of ramen.
i don’t know if i could do it here…
please start weighing yourselves, so we can see what the dietary implementations are. (starting weights not needed, just ‘day 12, -2.2….day 13, -2.4……….etc…)
You guys rock! As soon as my Avocado tree puts out some more fruit I will be sure to drop some off to Christopher! peace
Found you from http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/and wanted to give some encouragement. My husband and I did this in 02/07 out in Virginia.
I tried to blog about it (http://56dollars.blogspot.com/), but I was so occupied with making sure we had enough to eat (and working two jobs), that I didn’t keep a very good record.
I just want to say that you can do this! If we can do it in Fairfax, VA, then you can do it in Encinitas, CA. My biggest word of advice: Ethnic Grocery stores are you friend. =)
Hey Mr. Greenslate I’m currently working on my design for my ILP so I thought I’d check out your progress. I’m impressed u can really live off one dollar a day without having a costco membership!
You chaps are mega awesome!!! My organic biodynamic Avocado and mango orchard has Tonnage right now and I’m flying you 12 crates tomorrow morning. Mwah love you Christopher!!! May the divine guru shanti deva lotus bramhi satva be with you …..MEGA PEACE!
This is a really great project, I support it completely; but when you say that it’s possible to live on less than a dollar a day of food— “just look at the third world countries” remember that most of them may easily live off of less food… but they don’t live LONG. It’s great to not waste and to not buy lots of food that we won’t eat, but don’t lose the nutritional value of Food. Less food in many cases may mean less lifetime.
How fabulously interesting! I wish you all the best!
I am a 4th-6th grade Montessori teacher who found you guys through Ode magazine. This is an amazing and inspiring project. Best of luck to you both and I can’t wait to read how you are doing.
I am looking forward to the food cost index.
Hey–I’ve been following your experiment obsessively. Hope things are going well. I wrote about you guys over at EatDrinkBetter: http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2008/09/15/eating-on-1-a-day-couple-lives-food-experiment/
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Kerri & Christopher,
I live in Concord, New Hampshire and first learned about your project from a newsletter that I received from the Institute of Humane Education in Surry, Maine. I admire what you are both doing and have looked forward to reading your daily entries since early September. I find your entries reflective, thoughtful, and enlightening. I have shared your blog with many interested parties. I don’t know what I will do without you after today!
Best Wishes on your future endeavors. The world needs more folks like you to pave the way for social justice and education.
Hi: I think your experiment was grand. I did notice, however, that you had spices most people on low income cannot afford to buy. Think of how bland food tastes when all you have is salt and maybe pepper.
This is a fabulous project! There is a lady who works in my lab telling me of living on little as a child. She said that her family was able to eat on what they grew even though they were without money. They raised chickens (I know you guys are vegetarian) for protein, grew corn, grain and vegetables. The people I have met who moved here from Africa did try to do this to balance their diet. Maybe a variation you should try is growing some of your own vegetables in pots. I grow herbs in my apartment which saves a lot of money, especially if I get cuttings from my friends.
I just read the NY Times article, and I thank you for your show of example. It is a delight to see these discussions on a larger stage, and your courage to even try is honorable.
Should you continue to write about the affordability of nutritional food, I will anxiously wait to hear more of what you learn.
What an interesting experiment. The idea of the ‘true cost’ of eating healthfully/ eating cheaply/ feeding others etc. is such an important one in our country today.
I remember reading that “poverty level” statistics were skewed lower by how relatively inexpensive food is in the US, but that if the health impacts of poor nutrition were included in ‘food costs’ many more people in the US were below “poverty level”.
Good luck to you both. Interested to see what your next experiments will examine. Thank you.
As a teacher, I am amazed to see you undertake this in September. When school starts, I am always struggling just to have time to eat, let alone restrict that eating. Was September part of the master plan or was it just when it happened?
The U.S. poverty line (about $14/day/person 2007, depending on household size and composition) directly based on what people spend on food. Essentially, the amount spent per day on food by the poorest quintile of Americans in multiplied by 3 to yield the poverty line. So if a household of 4 (two adults and two related children) spends $1,752 on food in 2007 ($4.80/person/day), and this spending is 1/3 their income, then they will live just ON the poverty line. This means that there are 37.3 million Americans (12.6%) eating less than $4.80 a day or paying more than a third of their small income for food.
Just wanted to say thanks for assisting in educating the public about this issue. Some of us know first-hand, (and sadly sometimes we know both by raising our children and now seeing our children struggle raising their children as single parents as well,) how difficult it is to feed a family when you are poor. There, I said it. And am not ashamed to have said so: not demeaned, or ashamed or embarrassed to have been a poor single parent, and most of all not ashamed of my bright and beautiful daughter who gives her whole being into raising my grandson. Being poor might be a fact of life for some of us, but being poor and unhealthly due to poor nutrition needs to be addressed. How many kids who experience behavioral/social/educational difficulties could be helped by something as simple as adequate nutrition? And when you consider how imperative it is for a single parent who makes even double the current minimum wage, to go to work every single day, finding a way to make healthy eating affordable is not only beneficial for those who benefit directly, but also to those who pay taxes for the healthcare, and/or social services provided to those persons. So please, keep up the great work! And thanks again for bringing this issue to public attention.
Hi Christopher and Kerri!
I am working on a start up blog at urbanspeaker.com and I’m looking for some good article content. I had an idea that I would attempt to contact as many of the major personal finance and development blog writers as I can, and ask them for one thing:
If you were in a mentoring role, what is the one piece of advice you could give a young business minded student?
If you wish to answer the question, please simply reply to this email. (please reply either way) I hope you will post the list of all the responses on your blog once I have compiled a few. This way, all those who respond will get some publicity, and I will get a little bit of better content. No one loses!
I have several popular blog authors already, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Hi Christopher and Kerri,
I just listened to your interview on the CBC.
Thank you for bringing your story to Canadian TV.
Best of luck to both of you in this endeavour.
Dumpster diving behind supermarkets and farmer’s markets is how my folks got veggies in the late 60’s in bohemian NYC. It’s become quite the underground fad with some. Also lots of places will sell a banana for a quarter or .35¢
Also cooperatives are a great way buy food in bulk and if you’ve got a lot of friends have a weekly dinner where everyone pools money and resources and food prep. Fun AND economical!
thanks for your article and project. It inspired me.
often churches, temples etc. offer a free meal once a week. when I was living in New Orleans the Hare Krisner’s had a free vegetarian mean every Sunday. I am unsure if participation in their service was mandatory, but it was wonderful spicy and healthful food and interesting company! Soup kitchens and food pantries are becoming a lot more utilized since the economy did the big nose dive thing. And many times restaurants or mom and pop deli food stores/delis stuff like that will exchange a meal for cleaning up, stocking, dishwashing, sweeping, etc. Barter is a way of life that would not be bad to utilize again.
My dad is a charitable person and when he would be approached by people asking for money because they were homeless or what-have-you, he would decline giving them money but offer to buy them a sandwich, soup or a cup of coffee. Most of the time, this separates the pan-handlers from those really in need.
I read about your blog on a Turkish newspaper, Aksam, Serdar Turgut, and just visited to your web site… I think you are making a great job and you remind us how to be frugal on our spendings. Sometimes it is just crazy that if only people could think and wait a bit before scattering his/her money, I don’t think how much earnings they would have! Greetings from Istanbul and salute…
Have you considered growing a vegetable garden? I have a small plot in my back yard and a few plants that grow amazing well are radishes, spinach, lettuce variety, and carrots during the San Diego winter months.
In the summer of course, it’s tomatoes galore!
Hello, Given the time of year I wanted to say I really appreciate what you are doing and exposing your students to. My wife and I are both teachers as well and we spent a few years in the Peace Corps in Mauritania, West Africa living at or below the levels of food economy you discuss here. It is challenging and at times almost unfathomable to think this way or then “try it out” for a bit. My only word of caution (and it’s a minor one really) is to be aware of an superiority or self-satisfaction slipping into your mind for having tried this life out. Having volunteered to live and eat this way doesn’t come with the soul-crushing, defeatist atmosphere and mentality that so often accompanies generational poverty and it can be a bit presumptious to take the pose of understanding for having engaged in it for a duration. Having said that let me finish by saying great website, provocative thinking and good example!
Christopher and kerri,
Its so great to see how big this project has gotten. It’s really getting out to so many people and its about time! When ever I think about high school I always remember all the projects and ideas that you guys had, and all of them had to do with opening peoples eyes to the misfortunes of the rest of the world. I am so glad to see that its continuing and growing.
I will stop by LCC soon and hopefully will have some goodies to bring 🙂
You are both amazing!
Also, I saw someone talking about ILPs :).. are you doing this as your semester project?
If you can get a hold of a copy, I would highly recommend “Bill Kaysing’s Freedom Encyclopia” published in 1988 by Instant Improvements, Inc.
Bill did the “Dollar-a Day” thing back in the early 80’s, but I would imagine it would be a bit harder to do today. There might be some valuable hints in the book though.
I have been eating on $30 a month since I was laid off in the Mtg Industry; at least 9 months now. I buy Rice (brown), Beans(mixed), and Smoked turkey. Eat small, medium and larger portions 3 times a day.
cost about $7 per week. Tasty, but boring.
Was making over 100K per year, and went to zilch.
Still doing it, but now on Fridays, if I feel like it I treat myself to something not more that $10. Been doing that about 2 months now.
Gotta do, what I gotta do. Working wherever I can. Too much to explain…
Your experiment has created a forum for discussion and, as with many things, there will be people that get it, people that don’t, and those that think they do. Your reported experience reveals the consequences of unhealthful eating (low energy, hunger, nutritional deficits, etc.), but that is just one aspect of poverty. There was a foreseeable end in sight and a degree of control over the circumstance. Poor people don’t have that, and I speak from experience. I support myself and 2 kids at the poverty index for a family of three while living in one of the most expensive areas of the U.S. Hunger and hopelessness is a way of life. We live like ghosts in society, making it through our day virtually unnoticed, not making waves for anyone and falling through the cracks. Poverty takes it’s toll in so many ways. If only people knew, or cared to know. I applaud your efforts, but it won’t change anything substantially for anyone.
I manage to eat for about $70 a month but you folks just beat me up more than double! I advise everyone who would go on such a diet to use raw carrots and onions for vitamin supply. They are cheap and contain almost everything human body needs.
Many years ago I recall reading about studies the US government did during WWII regarding reaching the most nutritional diet available for the least amount of money during that time of rationing and very scarce resources. Perhaps you should look for those studies and see what it would cost in today’s dollars. Also, I recall the Vitamin C issue was addressed in those studies with the inclusion of cabbage in the diet rather than with citrus fruits. So perhaps for your project (and for American’s in general) it is not so much a matter of not eating well and cheap but of not knowing how to cook well and eat cheap.
Kudos to you ! Food for thought . Check out http://www.angelfoodministries.com .. My husband and i did angel food for 6-8mths .. We stoped to put ourselves on a diet to loose weight.. Anyway $30 for a months worth of food for 2 people.. Maybe it can be helpful for your book or your research.. The ministrey buys in bulk so they are able to give good deals.. All you do is Prepay for your order and pick it up on recieving day.. Anyway check it out..
It seems like this experiment sort of forced you into consuming mostly vegan or vegetarian foods (unless this was a conscious choice). By default this diet is much healthier than a standard diet full of meat and dairy, so except for the lack of fresh fruit and veggies, overall this can be a healthier diet than most people eat.
Bananas are a very cheap and nutricious fruit which could be added into the diet.
thanks. good work. nice experiment. best wishes.
good luck. looking forward to your book. i am doing a book on lulu.com. take care.
on YouTube under, “franklandfields”
As a teacher myself, it’s nice to know that there are others who like to experiment with daily living. In college, I tried (successfully) to withstand a summer without going to the grocery store. After about a week, I felt like Aladdin, and soon developed an amazing free food radar, that continues to serve me well. Luckily, my job provided me with food on the weekends, which I eagerly horded. Like you both, I had no apparent reason for the experiment. I just wanted to see if i could do it. Have you considered the toilet paper experiment? One square each per day. There’s a feat I’d like to see.
I live in Bonita (somewhere south of you I am sure) and just saw this on Fox news on the net, I don’t care for Fox, but your story was truly inspiring.
At first thought this was propaganda from Fox like the whole “Stay-cation” crud most media were were feeding us during the worst of the gas price fiasco,
but soon saw that your motives were sincere, logical, and also sad.
Sad only due to $1.00/day literally being a daily norm of existence to billions around the world.
Than you for your efforts to make us aware,
thank you if it was juts a biproduct of curiosity as well.
Thank you Christopher and Kerri for reminding me how I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I had a Father that would show up to steal our welfare check and leave us to Govt cheese and powdered milk and growling stomachs. A $2.00 a day!, (btw thats atleast $60 a month in groceries.)would have been a prayer answered for my Mother, to have not to depend on sending us (6) to school, so we can atleast get and bring back food once a day or else we had no dinner, sometimes. Really, people in Brooklyn NY (Americans)have been doing this for decades and STILL doing this today!) I NEVER see any attention to that fact on the Television! I’m surprised that all these bloggers are drawn to your story but NOT to all that are suffering with LESS than $1.00 a day, (i.e. Poor welfare families,homeless, Our honored Military Vets and much more)
You both may have tried to inspired many the thoughts TO DIET more than to HELP OUR AMERICANs.
As for understanding what I went through and many thousand others still are going through, or even attempting to act like you know what it feels like to have less to eat or ANYTHING to eat. I’m in tears just remembering how I felt, I once, in 1st grade, bullied away lunch food from other kids and because I had not eaten in over 2 days. I ate all the food and my stomach hurt (I never knew that FULL feeling) So I panicked and cryed and was sent home and found out later that it was because my stomach was full. I’ used to beg for half eaten food at Nathans just to hold me over and I used to walk the 5 mile boardwalk and check every board space for pennies. As one of your other bloggers mentioned , earlier (Keith Boyd
November 24, 2008 at 8:30 am ) “QuoteHaving volunteered to live and eat this way doesn’t come with the soul-crushing, defeatist atmosphere and mentality that so often accompanies generational poverty and it can be a bit presumptious to take the pose of understanding for having engaged in it for a duration.unquote”. I thank you for being teachers, unfortunately, I don’t think you learned or taught anything other than how to eat life some poor people. OH yeah, and for the record, since it was 2 of you at a dollar a day and if its a 31 day month thats $62. rice and pasta and water would have left you with some change, excluding the weekend when you can eat at friends.
Please contact me. Would like to discuss a possible opportunity.
What a great project. Isn’t funny to think about just how much you spend on food a month. We were struggling each month and tallied just what we were spending a month on groceries and it was mind boggling; we have cut it in half. We have a family of 4 so we might need $60 a month.
Bravo to the both of you; saw you on Fox News
Hello Chris and Kerri,
It’s great that you’ve brought this to our attention. This experiment reminds me when I was in college and all I had to eat were very minimal options. Ramen noodles was a big part of my diet back then. Luckily, my mother is a vitamin enthusiast and would send me supplies of vitamin supplements. I still ’til this day drink vitamins A-Z. Anyways, keep it up!
Just saw the video on Fox. Very thought provoking, and amazing that you could do it and stick to it. Way too go! It just shows what we are capable of doing if we decide too. I lool=k forward to your future challenges.
Interesting idea. I have been eating low cost food for years. A Macrobiotic diet which is healthy & will give you all the protien & minerals you need could come in at a dollar a day. This is including all the vegetables you need. Kale, carrots etc. Here organic kale is between 1 and 2 dollars a bunch. Green leafy vegatables you can grow should be part of your diet & in San Diego they can be grown all year long. So if you gardened in conjunction with going cheap you might have something here. I recommend short grain organic rice at 28 dollars a 25 pound bag. That should last two two months. Throw out the Tang. It is poison. Vitamin C is in many other foods. Stick to rice, millet & other grains with cooked vegetables, beans nuts etc. You will lose weight & you will be healthy. Brocolli is much better than milk for your bones. Eating less & weighing less are good for health & longevity. Wouldn’t hurt to throw in some exercise which you could get from gardening. Good luck. Lawrence Rhodes…….Vegetarian on and off since 1973.
An interesting experiement. But, from the interview, I sensed that the meals you were preparing were not considered nutritous, healthy or a sustainable diet.
How about in the next step of the experiment, trying to determine how much it would take to eat healthly per day. It could be an even more worthwhile endeavour.
I have noticed it costs more to eat healthy.
Do you have any intentions of finding a plan/way to eat healthy at a cheaper cost?
I am not speaking of low fat/no salt diet foods.
I am thinking more along the lines of healthy foods, e.g. oranges, carrots; healthy meals that provide a well balanced diet.
Reguardless, it is true to get the healthier foods cost is greatly involved. e.g organic, non hormone, cage free, and so on.
I don’t know if this would be considered cheating, but where I live there is a program for those that are slimmer in the wallet these days. The program is called “Angel Food”. You get a box filled with several pounds of hamburger, chicken, carrots, milk and other edibles for $30. They say it can feed two adults and two children. I totaled the combined weight to be about 20 pounds of food. That much can be made to last for a month or longer depending on how many people you have in your home. If it’s just the two of you, it would be a feast everyday. I know that if we were to buy all the food on the list at a regular store, it would easily total over $100. The only draw back is the menu changes every month as far as what meats and veggies you can pick, but to me food is food. I will enclose the information of my local unit to help you find a program in your area.
Click to access microsoft_word__0901_menuinsertjan_09_word.pdf
New Holland, PA
I love this idea! I’ll be watching to see how you do!
Congratulations on your decision to pursue this worthwhile project and to share your information with us. Please add me to your mailing list!
Just saw your video on yahoo. Wow, I’m impressed. Good job and I can’t wait to see what your next project will be.
I am also a teacher, and I truly care about peoples’ nutritional intake and well being. Although your eating project has good intentions, I am very, very concerned about both of your health. If you continue without eating fresh fruits and vegetables, dire consequences will soon follow, from gum disease, teeth problems, flaky skin, aches and pains, all the way eventually to heart ailment. That is because natural vitamin C found in fresh produce is responsible for collagen production in our body, which “glues” our bodies together, such as maintaining structures of or blood vessels, skin, gums, etc. Your mother was right when she wanted you both to avoid scurvy. However, a stern warning is this: Tang does NOT have natural vitamin C! It may have “vitamin C’ produced in labs from chemicals that mimic natural vitamin C, but trust me, this is useless. Humans need fresh produce that has natural vitamin C that interacts with other phytochemicals that can not be produced in a lab to fit into a pill. This means fresh fruits and vegetables have natural fibers that stays fresh only for a while and then has to be eaten, or else they spoil, meaning humans have to eat FRESH produce to be healthy. So in conclusion, if you do your math, in the short term you may “save” money by spending a little, but trust me, you will spend MUCH more money in the long run when you get older and have to go to the doctors and hospitals for your various health ailments. The right way to go is to spend money on healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables now, and avoid wasting money on junk and fast foods, laced with processed sugar, processed flour, and other undesirables. I can not believe your project is being highlighted nationally. Our nation will have a health crisis if many people follow your diet. Please listen to my advice, and God bless.
Hi–what a great project…you mentioned a book…do you have an agent/book publisher?
Hey, so could you maybe do experiment with healthy and super healthy, in relation to diet. I have heard that the “just” healthy level is at 9 fruits and vegetables a day. The Government should be paying for more frest fruits and veges for all who are one welfare. It would keep obsesity rates lower.
My family of 3 is at $850 a month for super healthy in which $600 is in fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Go smoothies! Great project, keep it up!
Rock on, you two! Your project is inspiring to my family, as we work hard to spend less. We are changing into 80% fruits and vegetables, fresh juice, fish and small grains, beans, nuts and rice. Our challenge is to find affordable fresh produce. Nuts are the same price as meat. It’s a slow process of transition for us. The kids get tired and sometimes headaches. Looking into bulk companies for millet, amaranth, quinoa in a non-retail co-op. The more my kids and I eat these foods, the better our asthma or eczema, etc are.
We also drink as much mineral water as possible, as our city water is above the EPA level in arsenic. My diabetic husband still won’t give up fast food! Probably the fat/carb rush that is craved.
We’ll keep watching your project for ideas and inspiration!
Wow! After watching the show on FOX TV, I am inspired by your dedication to such a project. I am a single person, who spends approximately $60 a month on groceries – and I thought that was pretty good. Now, I realize that one can survive on $30 a day.
I am truly impressed and inspired.
Read about you for the first time today – am working my way through the archives 🙂 fascinating, inspiring, funny,thought provoking. As a parent of 3 (2 of them teens) I am grateful for teachers like you, people like you. So I sent a little cha-ching your way cuz, yeah your nutty – but we need inspiring and nutty so here’s hoping you can keep on doing/being both!
I am very excited about this! You are both very much the role models we want teaching our children! Thankyou for doing what we as parents may not be able to. Also contact my mother, firstname.lastname@example.org. She grows her own food, has 5 goats and in the spring will be milking them, and has 40-50 chickens where we get our meat and eggs! She even makes her own dog food and soap! On her 3 acres is trying to have a wood burning kitchen stove to cook on and supply with free wood! She sews her own clothes and I want to be more like her. Waste can be eliminated with the help of people like you~ Thank you….
You guys rock. Locals represent!
This seems like a viable option for me, seeing as my girlfriend and I run our own businesses. Times are getting tougher, and we’re trying to ‘diversify’. But in the mean time, I want to challenge myself to sustain on beans, rice, tortillas, oatmeal.
Also, we love that restaurant Sipz in Clairmont. Part of our business is making comics, and it’s so convenient to have an awesome restaurant so close to our local comics shop. I feel bad for splurging in terms of cost, but it’s so good.
We also make buttons for local bands and businesses, so if you ever need buttons for whatever reason: http://www.modbuttons.com
Take Care guys!
I just saw your Fox report on Yahoo and was immediately entranced. Ironically, I was mulit-tasking (mapquesting directions and putting together my grocery list) when I came across it.
I come from a third world country and have always been surprised at the amount of food eaten in one sitting in America and how cheap (fiscally & nutritionally) it was – especially fast food. After a little research, I realised that the things I really wanted and needed (fresh fruits & vegetables) were incredibly expensive. I also noted that not including them in my diet made me very ill (bloated, constipated, lethargic, cranky, headaches, complexion, hair, & skin issues, and the list could go on…).
Although not as frugal as you, I found ways to save money and include the nutrition I crave. I purchase non-perishables in bulk (olive oil, brown rice, dried legumes, frozen fruits & veggies, wheat flour, spices, yeast, rising agents) – my freezer [the one on top of my refrigerator] and my cupboards are filled with air-tight containers of basics. I take advantage of anything that’s on special (canned tomatoes, pasta, juice concentrate) and stock up – my husband always laughs and says I’m preparing for a hurricane, lol. I’m from a tropical country so I use a lot of onion, sweet pepper, and celery but to ensure it doesn’t spoil (another area of wastage), I dice all of it one time and save it in the fridge in air-tight containers – also saves time when I’m cooking. I bake all my own cookies, cakes, breads. When I cook dinner, I make enough for two sittings so we can either have it for lunch the next day or make it into another meal.
The only food consumable we pay for outside of the home is alcohol when we go for drinks with our friends and even that I’d prefer everyone bring a bottle over to our house and share – but they consider that to be a bit extreme.
We’re currently subsisting on $10 a day as a couple which is not as low as you are but is nothing to sneeze at in New York City. My reason for living this way is to reduce expenditure but also to maintain our health and to control our weight; also it’s the way I grew up. We no longer get headaches or are constipated and I have to admit that I’ve become a pretty good cook – good enough to get requests from co-workers and friends…both his and mine, lol. But it also makes me feel good to take care of my family the way my people have been doing for centuries.
I think these habits – home cooking , meal planning, nutrition, and home economics – would benefit people world-wide and would help reduce obesity, ill-health, poor fiscal health, and maybe even limit pollution. I applaud your project and like your family, I am concerned about how much nutrition you are getting. One tip I learned is frozen veggies and fruits and frozen fruit concentrate. Many times they are on sale, they aren’t perishable, they’re multi-taskers, and a little goes a long way. They might put you off your $1-a-day project but it’s an FYI for later.
Good luck with your project and your book and I hope your extreme project will help other Americans consider what they eat and how that decision affects so many other aspects of their lives.
I hope threw this you teach your students about thinking about others in different ways….. I had a little money in an old paypal account I have been looking for a good cause to us it up I hope it helps…
I love the idea!!!!! I love it!!!!!!
I am a social worker at a high school; people do not realize how many students do not eat through out the day! This effects there ability to function and learn. These are the kids who usually have behavioral issues, attention problems, or no motivation to learn.
Your experiment has opened the eyes of many families across America…..I hope. This year alone I have witnessed many homeless families and students whose basic needs are not met.
I can’t wait to read your book
I love the idea!!!!! I love it!!!!!!
I am a social worker at a high school; people do not realize how many students do not eat through out the day! This effects there ability to function and learn. These are the kids who usually have behavioral issues, attention problems, or no motivation to learn.
Your experiment has opened the eyes of many families across America…..I hope. This year alone I have witnessed many homeless families and students whose basic needs are not met.
I can’t wait to read your book.
Wow, I have about 40 lbs. i’d like to take off to begin with—lost my job as well so I guess while i’m sort of poor now and things are tight…now would be a good time to try out what you guys have already done.
I just saw your video clip from yahoo. What both of you have done was inspiring. It was an exercise of self control and tolerance. There are a lot of people who take for granted the huge amount of money they allot to buy unnecessary food and yet a lot of people in the world are starving.
Dearest Teachers: I found your project amusing, having lived “simply” out of necessity, during several periods of my life (at one point, sleeping in my VW Karmann Ghia, digging in dumpsters, and eating macaroni and cheese). The biggest irony of your project is that neither of you could not afford FRESH vegetables! Healthy eating is JUST as important as just plain ingesting of calories… Also, having once worked as a county welfare worker, I have found– at least in California– that many who receive assistance in our state don’t really NEED assistance– as an example, two of the “workfare” clients on my crew made more money than me! (under the table, of course). Is there hunger in America? Certainly. Is there starvation in the U.S.? I’ve never seen it. I applaud you for your efforts, but would remind you that many folks CHOOSE to go hungry, selling their food stamps to buy alcohol and drugs… so sad, but the reality of life in a wealthy country. regards, jeff
What am I missing? On the news blurb, it sounded like you were eating on $60/mo for the two of you. If so, I’m not sure how you ended up on just pb&j etc. I can easily feed my family of 3 (myself and two super hungry teenagers) on $50/mo if I cook rather than buy frozen foods or eat out. We usually have food left over at the end of the month.
Janet….feeding 3 on $50/month, are you sure you’re taking every meal into consideration. That’s a little over $.50 each per day….PER DAY or $.17 PER MEAL. Please, tell me what meal you cooked for 50 cents for 3 people. Teenage boys….are you making them their lunch? Their breakfast? I think you better take another look at what you are spending.
I totally understand where you 2 are coming from. I am a military family of 3. I am also a stay at home mom and live on the one small military paycheck. Food is so expensive today. The sad part is if I want to stay healthy it costs me even more. Fresh food is so expensive and doesn’t last long at all. I have chosen to feed my child over myself. I spend well over $400 a month in groceries. We have come to a point that we can no longer afford this. But I always make sure my son gets a well balanced diet everyday. The economy has to change. I just hope it will happen soon.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It has really opened my eyes to the plight of poverty in the US and how little I have ever thought about. As I sit here in my living room, watching my big screen TV, I can see the kitchen, chock full of expensive food that I take for granted every day. In this holiday season, how appropriate to remember the blessings and also make tangible plans to help others in the coming year.
This is such an important dialogue, thank you for facilitating it.
Our family of five was plunged into 14 months of unemployment and we had to quickly learn to eat on no more than $200 per month. This was very challenging, especially as we rather hoped not to tip off the older children to how desperate the situation had become.
Our weekly splurge was the 2% milk (one child is under 2) and when this price hit over $3 per gallon in our area, I literally wept. The important lesson was that it can be done, but we were blessed to have living conditions with full appliances and clean, accessible water. I cannot imagine doing this if we’d had to tote water or without being able to cook or refrigerate. We also had an overfull spice cabinet to support our “project”, a dozen bottles of exotic liquor with a couple inches in each, and the donation of some venison from a neighbor who hunts (who had no idea that this was the only meat for three months).
Our experience ended two months ago when I finally got a job offer, but the skills earned are invaluable and we learned how to eat healthier. Now we spend about $350 a month and still cook almost everything, and eat some form of beans and rice at least twice a week. We now splurge on fresh tropical fruit, butter and maple syrup, and sometimes cheese and beer.
Some of our recipes:
overnight soak 1 pound dried pinto – drain and rinse, reserve
Heat 1 tsp. olive oil and saute
1 finely chopped onion (and couple cloves garlic if you have it) until transparent (reserve)
Fry 1 pound ground venison until done and crumbly
Add in fried onions/garlic and one 1 pound can of diced tomatoes with can liquid, 1 tsp. each salt, sugar or molasses, ground black pepper and chili powder
Add in beans and cover with 2 quarts water. Throw in some bayleafs if you have them. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook a couple hours on low heat until bean are tender.
Cool and freeze half of it for next month.
Serve the rest hot with cornbread orr stretch it farther by serving half of it it over hot brown rice and packing the rest for school lunches.
Barley Stew (serves 5 )
1 tsp. olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
(heat oil in large pot, add onion/garlic sprinkle with 1 tsp. each salt & ground pepper, cook until transparent)
Add 1 head chopped cabbage
and 1 1/3 cup uncooked barley (rinsed)
Pour over 2 quarts water or turkey broth and water
(add a bayleaf or two if you have it)
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until cabbage is tender and barley is done.
what ya’ll have done is amazing and very motivating for others to try. i know as a typical american i eat alot of junk food so i will def try to put into perspective what yall have done
WOW! You guys are crazy! but i know one thing about crazy, is that its one step closer to Genius. You guys really have something here. I would like to hear back from you guys. Good Luck and God Bless.
Remember, Change starts with yourself.
Great project and great way to bring attention to hunger issues happening world-wide.
I have one comment or one suggestion and that is it would be interesting to integrate food (vegie) growing. Many people have access to a backyard, or a community garden. would be interested in finding out how the math works out. we grow all of our vegetables for 8 months out of the year, and much of our fruit on a double urban lot (120 x 100 feet) half of the space is the house. We will experiment with raising fish as part of the green house very soon.
The best to you
Hi, I just heard about your experiment and blog on YHOO.
Very interesting and took some serious committment to keep up for even a month.
I am thinking if you got cranky and light headed some of the time, seems likely you may have had some sugar surges and insulin reacations. My guess is you could correct most of that by eating a better balance of proteins to fats and carbs. As well as keeping a minimum adequate calorie intake for your bodies etc.
Another thing about the carbs is maybe most should be whole grains.
All this would cost more than your budgets.
It is a great thing you did and keep up the good work. Maybe it will help millions of people get more knowledge about food diets and budgeting etc.
I am going to do this project starting on january 1st. I am only 13 and my parents dont want me to do this but i talk about poverty over with my american studies teacher and we both think its a great learning experience especially for someone growing up in her own “bubble.” I go to a private school where everyone is very priveledged. I really don’t think kids think about whats around them very often. So many people live in poverty and this is something that is think is just amazing. I think i am going to live on $2 a day though because I dont want to end up stunting my growth.
The description is in itself a statement:) and the experiment, now that it’s actually public, should bring at least a bit of reflexion…hopefully not only that kind of good heart reflection that vanishes imediately because the thought is “too sad”…
Just saw you on Fox. Very inspiring experiment. All the talk of fresh fruits and vegetables is interesting. Yes, in spring, summer, and fall you can grow some kind of produce almost anywhere in the USA. If you don’t have space for a garden try a container in a sunny window or on the balcony. Herbs grow great year round in a window…even in the Rockies in winter. Fresh produce is NOT expensive if you eat seasonally. Costco is not fresh produce and not all organic produce is either. Look at where those organic tomatoes come from in January. Fresh berries in January are expensive for two reasons. That is not the natural cycle of food for most regions of the US so the berries have been shipped thousands of miles and second, because it has been days since the berries have been on their vine the nutrient content is significantly diminished. People talk of eating all this produce in winter, but you aren’t getting many nutrients from a cantaloupe in February that has been shipped or sitting in a warehouse for weeks. If you eat seasonally chances are you are eating from your own garden, farmers market, CSA (community sustained agriculture), or from a generous neighbor who gardens. Many farmers will also allow people to ‘glean’ their fields after harvest (for free) if you ask. So, even if you are on food stamps or a very limited budget it is possible to have fresh food if you put forth the effort. It can take time (I spent lots of time doing it), but this is stuff you are putting in your body the most precious gift we are given. If we took the time to preserve our produce by canning or freezing we could eat local all winter too.
As for less healthy foods being cheaper in the store…that’s the opposite of what I have found. For $50.00 I can fill 4-5 bags with fruit, veggies, whole wheat pasta, milk from a local dairy where cows roam the grass field, and eggs. The same $50.00 only gets me 2 bags when I buy frozen lasagne, white bread, potato chips, and soda. We just need to get back to cooking, preserving, and growing/producing our own food. By doing so we know the nutrient content is high, we eat the way our bodies evolved to (with the seasons), there is no worry about food safety since we know where the food came from, and there is a certain pride in growing your own food…even if it’s just the chives on the baked potato! I am thrilled to see so much discussion about this experiment and food. It’s great that so many people have undertaken similar experiments themselves or other food experiments. It’s comforting knowing that people are thinking about what we eat and how it affects our environment, health, and economy. Good luck in your future experiments!!! I can’t wait to read about them!!!
Thanks for sharing this experiment. I’ve been trying to eat in a more healthy manner myself recently, and I find that my desire to eat organic and/or minimally processed foods is good for my body, but tough on my budget. It’s really discouraging to me that our entire food production/distribution system in the US is so slanted toward highly processed foods that may fill us up, but they don’t really feed us. I look forward to further experiments from you two, and to your quest to find out what it really costs/means to eat healthy in America.
Sounds good. But you have to take a look at the nutritional side. These days the food does not have the nutrients as 100 years ago. Even if you eat everything is not going to be enough. I recommend start taking dietary supplements. If you decide so be careful what you are taking. Take a look at my blog I have a video just watch it very carefully.
Good Luck !
For more info go to http://www.thebestforyourhealth.com
This is not surprising. I am an Asian Indian living in USA for past 4 years. I have survived on low budget ever since I came here.
I eat Cooked Rice and Dal with vegetables and yoghurt with pickles and salt.
I can live on about $ 30 a month and still have a hearty Indian meal every day. American food cost more. If you had used lemon water you could have got all the vitamin C you needed.
Try rice, dal, chapati and roti next time it wont be so hard like it was now.
I would like to join too.
Very interesting experiment BUT sounded extremely dangerous. The symptoms and weight loss described on the web (abc news) sounded serious, not only that but short term it may seem great, long term…..well there is no long term. You would probably develop some sort of cancer, diabetes, RA, inflammation or auto immune disease/disorder. Check out celiac diseases. I am just going off what was said on abc news, i saw some gluten free info on the site and such but some people may not catch on and practice this. Just heeding a warning.
Have you heard that Obama may have a Secretary of Food for his cabinet.
Maybe you guys should apply.
I actually saw you guys on the Fox News story video on Yahoo. I was intrigued because I said no way can it be done; a dollar a day for food in the U.S.? It was an interesting story to watch but what really caught my attention was the losing 14lbs in a month part. I admit it, I am a vain American Woman and if this can help me lose weight, I’d be willing to do it for a month. But I knew Ramen noodles had to be involved somewhere. 🙂
That’s really cool! I’m glad you guys tried this, sets an example for the rest of us.
I have followed your story lately on the various shows….Inspiring! We are living off of a 15 lb. bag of potatoes in my house right now lol
Greenslate you are the man!!
Just saw the interview in yahoo.
What u guys have been doing is quite extreme, especially since it’s happened in America.
However, from where I’m living right now, there are a lot of people survive by only eating even less than a dollar a day.
I hope u guys well
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After researching this issue, I lived on a vegan dollar-a-day food budget for one month last year and was able to meet all dietary recommendations and nutritional requirements and not lose weight. We should talk. Please contact me.
What exactly constitutes a ‘social justice’ teacher? And at what education level is this being taught?
Thanks for sharing your experiment. You two are truly amazing that you were able to stick with it for 30 days on such low calorie foods. Although it was a great experiment, I hope you add fruits and vegetables back into your diet. Don’t go back to spending what you were, but maybe just a bit more than $1 a day. I really liked Manjunath’s comments from above – some food for thought for everyone needing to save a little bit at the grocery store.
Wow……I saw a video on the front page of Yahoo, promoting your quest to eat for 30 days on $1 a day each and I’ve read just about every entry. It’s funny I read this today, the day after ordering a large deluxe pizza at a local pizza shop for approximately $16 (though it is lasting me for 3 or 4 meals).
The last 3 or 4 years, I considered a $5 meal (most likely fast food) a good deal. Reading this story has enlightened me to the struggles of those much less fortunate than me. I really want to attempt something like you two have, only with less restrictions, but I know I can’t because I’m a college sophomore living on BGSU’s main campus. With our meal plan (which costs regular money)A scoop or two of white rice and a scoop of cooked chicken and various seasonings and sauces costs me $5.25.
I’m going on winter break soon, and though I don’t really have the means to donate or live on $1 a day, your story has made me think long and hard about the things I value…..most of all being money.
P. S. I also wish I had teachers like you guys when I was in high school……
Hi Christopher and Kerri,
Congratulations on your success with this!
I am an emergency and public health physician and have worked extensively in developing countries over the past 20 years. I have also been vegan since 1980. I am currently involved with projects in the earthquake-stricken region of Sichuan, China and the tsunami-hit area of Aceh, Indonesia. In addition, I have a project working with inner-city high school students in Pittsburgh.
Here is my faculty profile:
and an article about my work:
For similar reasons as yours, after researching the issue I kept a vegan dollar-a-day diet for one month last year. I was able to maintain my weight as well as to meet all nutritional requirements and dietary recommendations. I also felt great and actually think it was a pretty good way to eat. Would you like to discuss this further? I will be happy if I can find a way to lend support to the ideas your are promoting, including your book.
Robbie Ali MD, MPH, MPPM
Director, Global Programs, Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC)
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
University email: email@example.com
You two have a very interesting project. It remindes me of about 6 years ago being a freshman in college and living off of ramen for two weeks while going through two-a-day football practices in the Arizona heat!
I would like to participate in some type of experiment like similar to yours. I am curious how this affects bigger kids like me growing up without enough to eat. I am not overweight, but I am 6’3, 280lbs. Would malnutrition like this stunt the growth of poverty stricken children in the US? Does bad eating keep those kids from having a fair chance to develop and compete in athletics?
Good job and keep it up!
It was interesting to see this, My husband has been laid off three times this year and we struggle to buy food , after rent and heat there is not much left over, It was good to see some ideas re buying bulk and that one can truly eat on much less. I was happy to see so many people donate, I went to our local foodshelf and because so many people utilize it its also slim pickins.
This is excellent. I also work in a school and struggle to make ends meet. It is pretty sad that with 8 years of college and three degrees, teachers have to struggle to buy groceries. Working two jobs is sometimes a necessity. Our country really needs to start funding schools better if parents want quality education.
I commend you for taking on a project as a learning experience.
However, $60 for a month for 2 people is actually more that the monthly grocery budget for many families of 4 that I know who practice frugality and actually eat very well and healthily on $40/month.
Here is a link to a woman’s blog who feeds her family of 4 with an Annual grocery budget of $800! That’s $0.55 per day per person, and they are eating fresh fruits and vegetables and meat.
Another blog written by a woman with a $40/week budget for a family of 4 who plans out healthy meals with lots of fruits and veggies is here:
By shopping sales and utilizing coupons, it is very easy and doable for anyone to keep their grocery budget lower than most people realize.
Absolutely inspiring!!! I think that when we think of people starving we think of other countries. In college, we did a community service project, a “hunger feast”, to show to our students and others how many of those are starving not only in other countries, but right here in the US. I was astonished to learn how many children eat only the free meals they receive at school. To think that a break away from school means very few if any meals for those children is troubling.
Thank you for seeing this as an issue and turning your personal project into a lesson for all of us!
My fiance and I are ready to buy our first home. I saw the news clipping on you guys and found it really interesting. We are both looking to improve our health and obviously save money. Your story came at a very good time for us and for many Americans. I look forward to the what more experiments you guys bring.
I’m surprised (ok, NOT) that with all the comments on nutrition, esp. vitamin C, no one has mentioned foraging. Even in a city, probably most folks can find a lawn or vacant lot that isn’t doused with pesticides, and harvest dandelion greens. They are ubiquitous and easy to identify…and very high in vitamin C as well as vitamin A, iron, etc. Even just a few leaves nibbled whenever they are found can make a significant nutritional addition. In some seasons they are very bitter but one can cultivate a taste for that (whoever decided hot peppers were edible when the first human being tasted them?) or just think of it as “medicine”.
If folks have a good supply of them, a handful can be added to a salad, or chopped in scrambled eggs. They make a nice quiche.
Unlike most garden greens, many wild greens such as dandelion, lambsquarters (my favorite vegetable for the last 40 years), pigweed, etc., are very dense nutritionally so a little goes a long ways. They have a much lower water content in the leaves diluting the nutrients. These plants have very deep roots so they bring up soil nutrients that our common crops can’t reach.
Lambsquarters can be used just like spinach (adjusting for much lower water content in recipes) and can be eaten at any stage of growth. It is very mild-flavored, and high in calcium as well at the previously mentioned nutrients. Good in salads or sandwiches, or steamed. “Wilt” with a few sesame seeds and a drop of lemon juice for a fancy dish. Lambsquarters can easily be blanched and frozen for winter use like frozen spinach.
Ironically, gourmet seed catalogs are beginning to include seeds for special selected varieties of these and other “weeds”. And I’m selling them at my Farmer’s Market booth, and people are buying them and coming back for more. Yet they are right there for the taking for so many people! During one of my times of poverty I just walked down the alleys and collected the greens for dinner.
Huge improvements could be made in the average American diet by including more of these free vegetables…even in small amounts. Let’s stop poisoning our “weeds” and start eating them!
The best thing is that this is a truly sustainable resource and one that can be easily increased without any expense or much gardening know-how…unlike supermarket dumpsters, food banks, etc. where increasing financial stress will tend to increase competition for increasingly limited resources.
You guys are cool!!!!
Great job. I wish you luck with the book.
I just finished your blog, start-to-finish and all of the comments that followed. What boggles my mind is how so many comments seem to miss the meaning I found in your journey. I didn’t see your “experiment” as a method for saving money or loosing weight. I saw it as a testament to what effect hunger and poor nutrition has on any person who daily and perpetually copes with that condition.
We are a nation of great abundance and a nation of great waste. There is no excuse for anyone here to go hungry. The hardworking poor, those who struggle to “make a living” and feed themselves and their families and still maintain the hope of a better future are remarkable. How fortunate are we who haven’t known this level of poverty.
I’ll never again ignore a food drive or any other opportunity I have to give or forget to give thanks for what I can easily take for granted.
Food for thought.
Who can I join the blog for updates?
just very inspiring.. goodluck guys
Congratulations on your project.
Why Tang? At $.07 it’
When I heard about your site, I thought for sure the comments would be full of mentions of Amy Dacyczyn and the Tightwad Gazette newsletters/books of the 90’s. In the mid-to-late 90’s she fed a family of 6, including growing children, on $200/month or less, which averages $33/person/day. The techniques her family used (growing and canning vegetables and fruits, hint hint), along with thousands of other tips for saving money sent by readers, were documented in the Tightwad Gazette newsletter and resulting books. She also received tons of press over the years of the newsletter’s publication – Donahue, magazines, NPR, etc. I think much of her work would provide very interesting insight to your next question of “What does it take to eat well in America?” because of the fact that her large family kept that low food budget over the course of years, not just a month.
Congratulations on your project.
At $.07 per serving, it’s far more expensive than vitamin C pills and comparable to multiple vitamins (discount).
My wife and I are intriged by your project we will attempt to emulate your deed but will likely not do as well.
Related, we have often done an “empty the shelves project.”…To see how long we can go without grocery shopping. It gets pretty creative at the end.
BTW: Though the social undercurrent on this blog is understandable, I think it misses the important issue. As INDIVIDUALS, we can all do better.
To those who think processed food is inferior to fresh or organic food, I would like to offer my opinion…Though we would like to think we know what we’re doing nutritionally, I submit that the the optimal diet is certainly unknown.
“Recommended Daily Allowances” of nutritional essentials (vitamins, minerals) are somewhat arbitrary, derived from diet surveys decades ago.
There is no evidence (clinically or biochemically) that 50mcg of pure Biotin is handled by the body any differently than 50mcg of Biotin in beans.
When I was an undergraduate in chemistry in the seventies (now a pediatrician), two things were were just beginning: a push toward “natural foods” and molecular identification with infra red spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance specroscopy. I did an analysis of “100% natural” honey (The term “organic food” didn’t exist then.)
I found traces of benzene and toluene along with assorted other poly-unsaturated carbon rings. I reached the conclusion that the bees were trying to give us cancer ;).
The point here is we as individuals waste a lot of resources even when we don’t realize it. Buy a bag of generic beans and save the difference. You could donate the difference to your favorite children’s charity.
If civilization as a whole is to thrive, it will be done with packaged, preserved and somewhat processed food.
OMS (off my soapbox)…Thanks
“getting vitamins somewhere”… if u were smart u’d sprout lentils & others legumes, this way u can get your vitamins & minerals 4 pennies a day & u’d eat a tablespoon or so of hempseeds daily [super high in energy!/ most balanced food 4 humans!] (sprouted is better but of course north american countries aren’t actually free so u can only legally obtain processed seeds)… if u sprout them it might start a revolution, QUINOA is great too!, please 4get about margarine & the pb & j sandwiches, we really need very little, a little lemon juice, an apple…, a small amount of sprouted grains & sprouted legumes, hempseeds @ breakfast & @ lunch, a pinch of REAL salt, maccha tea & a few other SUPER foods will well take care of you, oh & herb tea 2 of course, mmm, yummy greatness
ps, im really happy u 2 have done what u have done
An eye opening project, it help to remind us on the food that we waste everyday.
Hope i can do the same at my country Malaysia.
being a vegan is a fantastic way to stop supporting world hunger! it pains me to drive thru beautiful corn and soy fields and know that every bite of that food will go to feed dairy or beef cows. we are all on this earth together and if we don’t get back on the same page of coexistence we can just forget about existence.
Guys I admire this project, keep it up!
Hello Christopher and Kerri
I am Kurioso, a Spanish blogger of relative success, specialized in personal challenges (like Dave Chameides , Dave Bruno, Adam Shepard) and people who has made a better world. I would like to interview you by email about your challenger . I thinks you have a good story to tell us.
would it be possible?. I wish it. Please contact me
thanks a lot, a lot
Love the idea and am thinking of doing it myself just for the experience. However, I do have some questions / concerns.
1) Did you use coupons (local store triples coupons & honors other store coupons). I was able to buy cake mix & cake frosting for free (10 for $10 on each with 50 cent coupons). If you make things from scratch and then mix in the above, would it make you feel bad or would it have no effect? I’m thinking that throwing in an over the counter cake would upset your system when your not getting any ‘normal junk food’.
2) How was your energy level at work? Were you able to do you job without people knowing? Did you let people know that you were doing this and they accepted you being grumpy?
3) How long could you have done this? 2 months? 6 months? a year? Do you think your health was adversely effected?
4) Your recipe section is small – and I have not cooked anything from scratch. Have you ever thought of ‘filming’ and posting them on youtube on how to cook the simple recipes? I think it would be really cool to cook up some of the recipes and then serve it to people and get a taste reaction from them.
First, I think what you are doing is great! One, or two, person(s) really can make a change! You are changing the way people think, and that’s where it all begins.
Second, I think Maria brings up a good point. “Come to think of it, it will be a great social experiment that should be required of all middle and high school students.” My first thought, as a health professional, is that this would be a terrible experiment for a growing child to try over a long period of time. They need those nutrients more than any of us. Also, the parents and adults are the ones who should be trying it. We need to set the example.
Thank you for getting me thinking about my own habits. I look forward to the book! Good luck to both of you!
Peace and Love,
In thinking about the dilemma regarding fruits and vegetables, I was reminded of the time when my spouse (and I) went through a bad stretch. O.K. It was the “c” word.
I spent hundreds of hours researching foods that we–more importantly–she should stay away from. We absolutely love each other so we decided that making this one concession–a change to our food habits–to live a longer life together was an investment rather than seeing it as a negative thing. Our diets changed completely through our crisis with cancer.
I discovered something through this process that I want to share. The doctors that we worked with were great but they were afraid of one thing. The FDA, pharmaceutical companies, and lobbyists claim that there is no evidence for cancer from the use of “products” that we use in our daily lives.
Over the two years that we dealt with cancer, I cannot tell you how many doctors were afraid to state “on the record” that some of the food we eat and some of the objects that we use in our daily lives cause cancer. It was clear that there was an adhered to practice of making suggestions to patients rather than stating clearly what products impact us. Frankly, I was shocked. Their fear seemed to stem from the fact that that they might lose their job, or that their practice would be affected in some way.
These doctors told me about all of the foods, objects, and items that are toxic when touched, inhaled, or burned. For instance, burnt toast, or hamburgers. The blackening of the toast, or burger, is carcinogenic. I had no idea. I hate burnt toast but it was an example that one doctor gave me.
It was clear that the doctors were adamant about their feelings about what causes cancer but they did not feel at liberty to be honest about it. I was to take this information and simply modify my life, if I wanted to. Did I have the courage to change my life? In our case, we felt that the length of time that we would spend together in our lifetime could be affected by “product.” In reality, I became keenly aware that I didn’t even know what was bad for us.
I certainly had the choice here. I could listen, learn, change, and see what the outcome would be. I could also be ignorant and weep and worry that cancer creeped into our lives and stole time away from us. Anyone that knows me is very aware that I am not a sit back and wait-and-see-what-happens type of person.
The one dollar diet project is important. It reaches out to us in a way that says, “Hey, this is what I did today.” Then, we must look at ourselves and say, “What did I do today?”
Here is my contribution for today. I’m going to post some of the information that I got from these very well-respected doctors from Sloan Kettering and Roswell who have years of medical training, experience, and certainly more authority than I do.
Short story. One holiday, my dad told me that he just bought a shower sprayer. When I asked him what the sprayer does, he said, “it cleans the shower for me.” I told him that, in my experience with cancer, I would not use this cleaner. I asked him to throw it away. “Its just a few bucks,” I said, “throw it away.” I’ll add that at the time, my father was over 70 and hadn’t had a sick day of his life (not even a cough). He works hard and said that this would free him up from cleaning the tub. Two months later, he was diagnosed with cancer.
Objects that I removed from our home (and you can, too!):
1. Bleach. I had NO idea how bad bleach really is. I’m not going to go in to depth here because you can do some of the research yourself but apple cider vinegar which I used before I thought of using bleach, was always my preference. Oddly enough, I always had bleach sitting under the sink. I didn’t even know that I wasn’t really using it.
2. All cleaning sprays. Use Dr. Bonner’s cleaning products. Not a lot of choise out there so be careful what you buy. A lot of companies are feigning good intentions by going “green” when its actually just the same stuff in a different marketed bottle. Dr. Bonner’s is not toxic.
3. Window cleaners. Use apple cider vinegar (house, car, tv glass, computer displays). Use with a little warm water.
4. Candles. Candles are made from OIL which means more dependency on foreign oil. Use the shaved fruit trimmings from your kitchen in a warm pot of water on the stove for a few minutes. Get double use from one fruit (besides eating it!).
5. Bottled water. I stopped buying bottled water. Not entirely because I don’t trust the water fountain at work but I rid my home from it. HOW? Get this. Very recently, I was told by a former water treatment specialist, that if you put your sink water through a filter (any filter will do) and place it in a container in the refrigerator, it is actually the cold temperature that kills the bacteria in the water. This was great news! I literally stopped buying $85 in bottled water per month. That’s a cost savings to us of $1,020.00 annually and now we get to go on a little vacation every year.
6. Canned foods. Oh. My. God. I had no idea how much I missed real fruits and vegetables. Oddly enough, we spend less on food by eating natural foods like green apples. Lots of cost savings here. Also, one small apple a day can reduce cancer. Research doesn’t know why it reduces cancer but it does. It also tastes great over oatmeal!
NOTE: Green apples will stay fresh in the refrigerator for over 40 days! Yes. That means fewer trips to the store for snack food. Also, go to your local weekend market for food. You can pretty much be guaranteed that none of the food will have been sprayed with toxins. If you have two people in a household, a $6-7 bag of green apples can last a month if eaten in halves.
Remember, food was originally sprayed because we started shipping food. When you eat fresh fruits and vegetables, you don’t need to have fruit sprayed.
One more thing about the grocery store. Shop on the most exterior part of the store. Why? Because that’s where you’ll find the freshest foods. It also keeps you thinking about what your body needs. Think “fresh food” rather than packaged food as your primary source of good health.
I don’t think I have much packaged food in the house anymore. There’s cereal, condiments, and a bag of OREO’s in the lower fridge drawer that I keep when I want just a little treat. Remember, those packaged cookies will last for months in the fridge…they’re packaged! I’ve found, however, that ricotta cheese with a little fruit is my favorite evening snack when I’m watching a movie.
7. Coffee. Let’s not pretend that we’re alarmed by this. We see its affect on us every day. Car accidents, nasty colleagues at work, anger, frustration. Get a grip and quit. Even if you don’t quit, drink less.
The Discovery Channel (maybe it was Public Broadcasting Service) recently had a whole show on how the heart thinks that the messages that coffee sends to the brain is actually another heart! In effect, it makes the real heart do things that it wouldn’t do if caffeine were not present. What does the heart do when large amounts of caffeine are in the body for long periods of time? It stop occasionally. The impact on your body is huge.
Think in musical terms like a musical phrase. When one instrumental phrase ends, another begins, then the previous instrument steps in again. The heart, thinking that there is this other beat in the brain, thinks that it can “take a break” so it does. People are going to the doctor’s office wondering if they’re having heart problems. Costs, costs, costs to us all.
Women. Also, caffeine can cause pain in the breast. Maybe this happens to men, too, I don’t know. When I told my doctor about it (this was when I was drinking a lot of coffee), he said, “How much coffee do you drink?” Nothing shocks me anymore. I enjoy coffee once in a blue moon now, like on a special occasion. I know that sounds weird but the pain in my breast stopped. So, I’m a happy camper.
8. Packaged food. Food that is packaged in plastic is toxic. Mostly when its heated but, of course, there is no research to show that it is harmful when storing food for up to or over a year in a refrigerator or freezer.
Yes, I know people who keep freezers full of food that they never touch. The plastic is made from oil. We can reduce our dependency on oil by simply eating fresh food on a daily basis.
9. Cigarettes. I just moved to the South where you can still go to a restaurant (like Outback Steakhouse) and get a seat in the SMOKING section.
I didn’t know this when I walked into the local Raleigh Outback Steakhouse. The woman said, “Smoking or non-smoking?” I said, “Neither, until you get rid of that smoking section.” As I turned to leave she quickly responded, “We have half a glass partition separating the rooms!” I haven’t been to an Outback Steakhouse since and won’t until they change their policy.
10. Candy. This was really hard for me. I grew up in the concessions business with my mother and we basically sold candy, popcorn, pop, potato chips, cigarettes, and other garbage to the public on a daily basis. We’re not in that business anymore.
I suppose I used gum as a substitute until Wrigley’s changed the colors of their gum. Now, it too, tastes different. So I’ve stopped chewing gum entirely now. When I really feel like I need something to eat in a pinch, nuts, yogurt or oatmeal. Oatmeal is a GREAT evening snack for everyone.
We really need to wake up from our stupor. Thanks to the one dollar diet project for creating a place where people can share information, stories, and reality. I know that I’ll be happier knowing that I can participate in change.
I hope someday I can have a house (trailor is fine) with some land so I can plant my own produce. everyone who has land should really do this, and people who don’t could maybe get some fresh produce form their neighbors cheaper than even the asian market prices. I’m going to talk to my sister about this. she’s trying to get a trailor in a verry country area with alot of land and she should really start that. give away her unwanted produce for free or sell it if it’s good enough, people would appriciate that I bet.
you guys are crazy
props tho…it made me think about how much i spend on food lol.
Hey, I just heard about your guys project. We are doing a feature length documentary that is similar to what you guys are doing. We are living on a dollar a day both here and in Africa, and documenting the entire thing. We are planning on leaving in late March, we just need to raise a little more money to cover the production costs of our project.
Check us out if you get a chance (giveadamndoc.com), it looks like you guys are getting a lot of attention. How did you get in the media and get such a response?
Continue the good work!!!
Wow! I saw the title on Yahoo! and I clicked it, and it was Mr. Greenslate! Haha awesome job guys, see you at LCC!
P.S- I can’t wait to read your book, props on spreading the word about how costly healthy food can be.
Hi, I am glad u decided to write this blog. I am sure in this economy, many people could benefit from your food cost cutting strategies.
As an “urban commando” on the streets of Chicago during the winter of 2006 when things went awry soon after I got there, I had to come up with creative strategies for everything from getting food, money and resources such as access to computers.
Further, I lost every single piece of ID in a shelter, and being a non US citizen, I was literally unable to replace my ID for 13 mos. Only now, after almost 3 yrs, I have regained my drivers license, after jumping thru hoops.
I plan to write a book called “Urban commandos guide to survival and success”, on how to survive and get out of this mess. Anyone interested, or if u want my Book TOC, and outline, please visit my new blog:
Comments most welcome and appreciated!
kool k, atlanta, ga.
well done. your project really cuts through the large number of various food experiments going on at the moment, including… issues around organic/lower-pesticide-residue agriculture, slow food, immediately available meal solutions, substance abuse, community building, vegetarian v. not, offal, u.s. compared to various other nation’s dietary practices/routines/expectations/rituals, nutrition, storage issues, monthly v. daily budgets, the worth of the dollar, etc. .
I saw you guys on Fox and Friends and thought it was an amazing sociologically experiment. I had a thought for your next project maybe. Try to see how much it costs to eat balanced meals for 30. I mean no thrills but a complete balanced diet and how much that breaks down to cost. Than maybe it be shown affordable for the average person to eat balanced…Or not? Just my thought. You guys rock really good idea! And that you put it into action says so much more.
Just out of curiosity how would you do something like this for a family of seven? I know for a fact that we have been spending more than what we should on grocery’s and I have tried to maintain a good stable healthy eating habit for my husband and children but they always want the junk food. Could you give me some tips on how to slowly transfer to this project? I know it will be better for all of us, especially my husband.
wow, this is unbelievable and downright amazing! I always have a planned budget for my meals but usually end up breaking it to give in to expensive treats such as chocolate or eating at a restaurant. I applaud your determination and will power. I am definitely inspired to do a strict costing of my spending – not only meals but other things as well. I am also planning to do a similar test like your $1 meals but considering that i am from South East Asia – this seems very possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables are very cheap here and making nutritious meals from scratch will be no problem. I will have to give up my junk food though! 🙂 Thanks for inspiring me.
I found this blog after recognizing a familiar face, while checking my email.
I understand the importance of questioning/consciousness-raising and accessing information as a primary step toward taking action. In addition, I understand why you, as educators, would privilege this form. But, from what I’ve read on this blog, I’ve discerned a visible lack in terms of providing resources for those that wish to utilize this information and shift the discussion toward movement. Without the latter, I have difficulty understanding what role this project plays in ‘social justice education’.
Is global starvation and disparity of wealth an issue that can be properly addressed by a benevolent administration within the central imperialist power? Is questioning our privilege and consumption habits actually meaningful if we aren’t working collectively within oppressed communities to build their leadership, power and transnational solidarity? Or does this become a self-defeating excercise of ‘noble’ sacrifice that continues to privilege white activists.
Now that we understand that $1 a day barely, if at all, provides materials necessary for survival, what do Kerri Leonard and Chris Greenslate suggest their readers and students do to transform the conditions wherein billions of people lacking access to nutricious food and potable water are regarded as nothing more than a surplus population? Who do you suggest we contact if we want to begin to act on this issue TODAY?
I am so glad to see that you are doing this and that you have received so much press for it. Last winter and friend and I did the same thing for a month. We noticed our whole perception of food changed during that time. I mostly ate beans and rice, potatoes and peanut butter sandwiches. I also bought a chicken and a package of bolgna at Aldi that was pretty cheap. That way I was able to eat some meat. And once I bought a 40 oz. beer for 1.25.
Prior to this experiment I had never realized how often food is used in our country for things other than nourishment. Almost everyday I was offered food for different gatherings, meetings and events. It was so hard to say no.
The first week was the worst. I was always hungry and cranky. After that, my body made adjustments and things were a little better. I am a school social worker and now I have a a much better understanding of how many of my hungry kids must feel at school….tired, cranky and not ready to learn.
Good luck with this. You two are great for what you are doing.
I think this can lead to people getting back to thinking, cooking, what an idea. I don’t know if many know but a grocery store is about 60 percent prepared foods, I.E. frozen dinners, open a box mix bake/cook, and there it is. It does not take much thought to melt your own cheese and make your own much better and cheaper, cheesey potatos, macaroni, etc. If your life is too busy to cook, maybe one needs to give up a “sport” and try cooking, you may be amazed at what you learn, cheaper and alot healthier than premade foods. I could go on. Our family is a practicing debt-free living and it amazes me how much some people spend on food. Unfortunatly too many people on food stamps don’t know how to cook, so much of the monitary help is on more expensive boxed and frozen meals. We need to keep the old fashioned Home Economics in school, because if the homes in the US are not economical how can the whole country be. Thanks and all the best to you both. P.S. you could increase that to 100.00 a month and still be ahead of 98% of the people…
Hi Christopher & Kerri:
I notice you guys have been mentioning a book (and a book proposal, back 6 weeks ago…) Is it a done deal, or might I be able to take a look at the proposal?
FYI, we publish a bunch of books relating to food and progressive issues, from publishing all of Wendell Berry’s books under the Counterpoint imprint to Soft Skull doing a punk vegan cookbook…
there is an affordable way to get your daily essential minerals especially when you are on such a tight budget.
The information is available on my blog http://www.naturesgift4health.blogspot.com
More power to you for your project.
i’d a text about “one dollar diet project” for an english exam (i’m french)…. and that the first time i enjoyed doing my english test… it was really awesome… i fall in love of the project… and i think i’m gonna try myself to live with one dollar per day to eat 😀
I would bet that a person could afford some container grown vegetables, grown from seed on your $1 a day. I suggest leafy vegetables as they grow fastest, such as swiss chard, spinach grown in empty milk containers. Also could consider prolific species such as green beens or climbing beans.
so, you ate the same thing everyday for the same amount of money? did you ever have the chance to change what you ate, exchange this for that? was it restricted to food or to other like candy and cake? (desserts can come cheaper) and did you eat out for a dollar like at mcdonalds? i wanna try it unlike most people and want the full details.
So, I just learned of this via a Yahoo! article. It was interesting read. I’m in college, living on campus, so I don’t have to actually buy that much food straight forward, but I realize the value of a dollar more than most my age. Americans are not only facing an increase in difficulty to afford food in general, but to buy quality healthier foods such as produce. I’m a history buff, so this seems odd to me as hundreds of years ago produce was very cheap, it was meat that was so expensive. Now it’s somewhat the opposite when you can get a double-cheeseburger @ McDonald’s for $1 but produce is an entirely different story. This has had an impact on my crusade to be mostly (if not fully) vegetarian. Great experiment, great idea, and in the end it brought yet more light to the issues. Good job guys. I’m glad to know that some of us are still very conscious of things.
As a Reigstered Dietitian, if your in need of help with meeting nutritional needs etc…go to JudithGordon.com and contact me…Great Work!
Hi! I heard you on Dwyer and Michaels. About a year ago I did this same experiment. I got a lot of mean remarks and criticism (some people have no imagination) but I stuck to it. I kept a daily journal of my experience, along with a break down of my purchases. Some people got it, but others are convinced that there is no hunger problem. Glad to see you got some recognition.
I like your idea. How we can eat /day only 1 dollar. I’ll try to follow your project too.
I enjoyed reading your article from the Christian Science Monitor. Lately I have been trying to cut food costs by purchasing spices for only penies on the dollar. I also have purchased nuts in the big bins of Winco out here in CA. I save my receipts so I know what I am spending and I can price compare. Thanks for sharing your project with us. God bless you both in the New Year.
Feedback on One Dollar Diet Project
I visited your blog, One Dollar Diet Project located at https://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com/ recently. I must say, I’m quite impressed by the blog’s content. In particular, I really liked https://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/progressions-through-unlearning/.
I’d like to know if you’d be interested in having me as a guest writer for your blog. I am a features writer working with MiracleFruitPlus.com. I’d like to write a free 300 to 400 word blog entry for you. I have a few years experience and would really enjoy writing one or two guest blog entries for your blog.
If you’d like to take me up on my offer, please send me a topic and a quick outline of what you’d like the article to say. Please give me as much detail as possible so I can make the blog entry meet your specifications as much as possible.
In exchange for this free blog entry, I would like to request a linkback to MiracleFruitPlus in the body of the blog entry somewhere using the title tag “miracle fruit.”
I look forward to your response
I was really touch by your experiment and the comments left by others. Here is a great program that can help with some food costs.
Angel Food is available (in many places in US) in a quantity that can fit into a medium-sized box at $30 per unit. Each month’s menu is different than the previous month and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out-dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.
There are no requirements to purchase and ordering does not take away from the available number of boxes.
Кризис, говорят, в марте усилится. Хотелось бы знать, кто затеял все это
и как вообще мы докатились до такой жизни.
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Your idea is catching on! Did you see the article on the woman doing this now to prove that not only can you spent little but eat healthfully on a low amount. It’s not the most appetizing, but it is proving that this can be done. Thanks for the inspiration.
Congratulations on an interesting and inspiring project. If you need any tips, here’s an article on 20 of the Healthiest Foods for Under $1. Perhaps the recipes will prove helpful!
This is a great idea, and I actually conducted an experiment of my own to see if my girlfriend and I could eat dinner meals for a week on $10. That boils down to an average of $1 per meal. I commend you on your ability to eat on $1 a day! Lowering our cost to $1 a meal was difficult enough. You can read about my experiment here:
I found your site because I saw the segment on Good Morning America. I am a terribly average person in Central Pennsylvania and I have a terribly average husband. I just told him that I found your website. I have challenged him to a $60 per month version of your experiment. Thanks for the inspiration.
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We are an association of youth in Uganda East Africa,is there any way we can be helped to boost in our projects,thanks.
look forward to hear from you.
Will definitely be looking out for your book when it spublished – just marked a reminder in my calendar – what an inspirational project you guys did. Will be adding your blog to our school list of research and resources web sites.
I am in awe.
Very good! Bravo to you both!
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I grew up in Eritrea. Didn’t have much to eat. when I moved to Detroit, I was small but healthy. 10 years in the USA, the country I love sooo much, I am fat and the most wasteful person I know. Shame shame.
We;ve got to change our ways!!
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Your post was interesting, and it gives me food for thought, so to speak. I for one appreciate you taking the time to post this for us. So thank you, and I’ll come round again for some more reading in the future. Have a great day!
I was so happy to stumble upon your site. Yesterday, I started my own $1/day food project to identify (a tiny bit) with those who have only that much (or less) to live on. Today I searched for the topic, and found your website. Your cost-per-food-items is really helpful. I am also adding the cost of fuel (based on how fast my Coleman stove burns a cup of white gas) into my $30/month food budget. I have a feeling I’m going to have to fast a couple days/week to make this work. Thanks again for your heart for the poor of this world, and for your website!!
P.S. The website is my wife’s. I don’t have one yet.
Very good! Bravo to you both!