Tag Archives: Travel

Back to Africa.

Today Kerri and I are heading to the birthplace of humanity. This will be Kerri’s first time landing in Africa, and my third trip back. Although I’m not looking forward to the 25+ hours of travel ahead of us, I am very excited to visit Egypt for the first time, and to see friends in Kenya and Uganda. Of course, our absence means that we probably won’t be posting for the next couple of weeks, but you know what we’d say anyway…


Your dad doesn’t really need that Snuggie as a holiday gag gift, but there are people on the very edge of survival who do need your help. And they need it right now. This morning I gave $500 to Oxfam, the largest single investment I’ve made in ending international poverty. I’m hoping that some of you will match that, or give even a percentage of that amount. Remember, someone’s life depends on it.

See you in 2010!


Christopher & Kerri



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Vegan Cupcakes Take Over My Brain.

Mostly vegan cupcakes sat waiting on the table at the family cabin in Shingletown, Calif. Of course, the vegan tray made room for one outcast. Cupcakes by Kimberly. Photo by Christohper (iPhone).

Mostly vegan cupcakes sat waiting on the table at the family cabin in Shingletown, Calif. Of course, the vegan tray made room for one outcast. Cupcakes by Kimberly. Photo by Christopher (iPhone).

I’m not sure what it is about road trips that make me feel like whether we are traveling for five hours or five days we need to stock the car full of provisions for the trip. Maybe it is some sort of evolutionary survival instinct that has been passed down from our ancestors that whispers into our consciousness, “bring food, and lots of it!”

But as Kerri and I packed the cooler for our drive to Redding, Calif. for father’s day with her family, the food we put in was quite different than what we would have brought last summer. Beyond a few leftover slices of pizza, we packed apples, strawberries and almonds. No chips, cookies, or other prepackaged foods would make the 10-hour journey with us to northern California. It isn’t that those foods are inherently bad, but since the “dollar diet” our eating patterns have changed.

As we work on our latest project in the economics of eating well, which we’ll fully recount in the book (due out in early 2010), the process of experimenting with our dietary patterns is starting to pay off. In general we tended to overeat before, now we know when to stop. We used to eat far more processed foods, now we cook from “raw” ingredients. The biggest challenge that remains however is eating in social settings with others.

Kerri’s family eats a fairly typical American diet. At gatherings the guys grill up burgers and dogs, and the women cover the tables with bowls of chips, Ritz crackers with dips, some assorted fruits, soda, tea, bottled water, and some type of dessert. This year it was cupcakes, compliments of Kerri’s younger sister.

I struggle during these trips because the chips, cookies, soda, cupcakes, and other high-calorie foods are difficult to resist. I was raised to overeat, and this habit, in combination with calorie dense junk foods, is a disaster for my health.

Today I did my best. When we arrived before lunch I resisted the barbecue chips and the crackers when they came out. But as everyone around me started munching away, the crunching of chips came in like surround sound. Resisting the snack table amidst the crowd of consensus eating made me feel like that lone man standing in front of the tank in Tienanmen Square 20 years ago.

I stayed strong for a couple hours, but soon the rationalizations clouded my will to defy. Kerri said it was o.k. to snack on carrots. Then we took a long calorie-burning walk, which made it fine to have two veggie burgers instead of one (besides, who wants to bring frozen food home on long drive?).

Then Kim came out with the cupcakes and it was game over.

Rationalizations grew into philosophical platforms: eating is an act of communion – if I don’t take part I’m rejecting a shared experience, therefore rejecting her family; Kerri’s sister went out of her way to make elegant vegan cupcakes – abstaining this accommodation would be blasphemous and just plain rude.  And of course the all time favorite way to indulge “bad” behavior: “Everything is o.k. in moderation.”

As the food was put away things got easier, but each day we are here is a challenge. Eating well is hard work, and although possible, there are moments when resistance is futile.

Trying to stay strong,

P.S. If you didn’t hear about it, Nestle has recalled all of their cookie dough as 66 people in 28 states have contracted E.coli 0157 from it. If you have some in your fridge, THROW IT AWAY. Cooking it won’t help, because the minute you open it you will have contaminated your kitchen.


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Day Four

While the nurse jabbed her needle into the soft part of my upper arm, I hoped I would not be the one in one hundred and thirty thousand that has a serious reaction to a yellow fever vaccination. Staring at the pictures of happy globe-trotters in the small room of the travel clinic, I wondered not about the life-changing experience that travel brings. Instead I contemplated whether eating one of the Jolly Ranchers in the waiting room would be a violation of this project.  

I had less energy today than previously, and right now I can feel a headache coming. It would be unfair to assume that my headache has anything to do with my food intake, but I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation. It could even be a reaction to the shot. Either way, my day with students was fantastic. While helping them look for ways to make their writing different of better than anyone else, my thoughts of food faded to the background. During lunch time I was so engaged with my work that I almost forgot to eat. 

Yet the beast that resides in my stomach (who I sometimes imagine is like the overgrown venus fly trap in the 80s film Little Shop of Horrors), was screaming “Feed Me, Seymour!” by the time I got home. When I arrive home from work in the afternoon I often have a customary after-school snack; usually chips and salsa. Today I felt those “old” habits rise up with a fury.

My response to the feeling, and the emotional need to stuff my face, was simple: I shall overcome.

Instead, I took a breather and watched The Daily Show online which then segued into correcting some student work. I’ve found that if I keep myself busy, working on things I care about, that ignoring the cravings of my mini Audrey ll becomes much easier. Besides, if Ode Magazine is going to tell readers about our project on their website, I have an obligation to deny that determined little beast in my stomach. 

Another day, another dollar…



Daily Totals:

Breakfast: Oatmeal – $0.06, 1 TBSP Peanut Butter on 1/2 piece of bread – $0.10 (Christopher only), 1/3 TBSP of margarine – $0.02 (Kerri only)

Lunch: 1/2 Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (homemade bread, 2 TBSP Peanut Butter, 1 TBSP Jelly) – $0.26, 2 Cups popped popcorn – $0.07 (Kerri only)

Dinner: Chana Masala – $0.25, Baked Potato w/ 1 TBSP Margarine – $0.16, 1.5 Tortillas – $0.08

Desert: 1 TBSP Peanut Butter – $0.05

Kerri Total: $0.90

Christopher Total: $0.96

Donation Total: $145

NOTE: If you think what we’re doing is interesting, inspiring, or just plain nutty, consider SPONSORING our efforts. Simply enter in an amount, click “update total” and follow the prompting. If you don’t have PayPal, it will let you use a credit card. At the end of the of the month all proceeds will go to the Community Resource Center (here in Encinitas, CA) and/or the ONE campaign. We will post evidence of donations at the end.

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