Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ethical Eating Project: Day 4

Three energy bars for breakfast

Clam chowder and three cups of skim milk for lunch.

Going to a friend's house for dinner. Won't track there.


Sent from my iPhone

Three energy bars (570 cal) 1.50

Can of clam chowder (280 calories) 1.50
One organic tomato @ .80 (22 calories)

Total for the day: 3.80

Remaining money: $78.03

ADDED LATER: As Cubit pointed out in the comments, I had the wrong day. Ate pretty simple stuff today then had dinner at a friend's. I had wondered if I would eat a lot more the first time I had the chance to eat for free. I really didn't.

Will update numbers and stats tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Ethical Eating Project - Day Three

Yesterday was great as far as money went, but I found myself really exhausted. 1400 calories a day is not a starvation diet by any means and it could just be that I'm adjusting to a different diet or didn't sleep well, but to be on the safe side, I decided to try to eat a bit more protein. Probably some more vegetables will help with my alertness.

Breakfast, as it were: (190 calories each)
Energy bar 2 @ .50 1

Peanut butter sandwich made of:
Two tablespoons organic peanut butter @ .28 (200 calories)
Two tablespoons organic raspberry spread @ .47 (45 calories)
Two slices of organic bread @ .20 each (110 each)

1/2 cup organic applesauce .23 (40 calories)

2 Cups of organic skim milk (for preparation, drank the rest) .94 (172 calories)

Vegetarian sloppy joe sauce 3/4 cup 1.00 (120 calories)
Veggie faux meat crumbles 1/3 package 2.00 (200 calories)
Two slices of organic bread @ .20 each (110 each)

Cup of organic skim milk .47 (86 calories)

Calories: 1,683

Money spent 6.99

Money remaining: 81.83

Level of suck: Tonight was ok. I'm getting tired of peanut butter for lunch, though. The fat free organic skim milk adds a lot to my enjoyment of my meals.

Part one analysis: Good, although I'm not actually sure the tomatoes in the sloppy joe sauce were organic.

Part two analysis: Eating more did cost more, but I'm still saving up for my trip to the Farmer's market.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Ethical Eating Project - Day Two

First off, thanks for all the comments and love on the overview post, and thanks for the emails and facebook messages. A couple of general points in response:

-The big one is the food desert. Fresh fruits and veggies are hard to get in the city. Lots of people have suggested farmer's markets and I plan to hit one on Saturday, but while I'm not going to make any serious attempt to simulate a food desert, I'm not going to go really far out of my way to make it to a Farmer's market before one comes to my neighborhood. There are two within walking distance (ok, anyplace is within walking distance if you have the time but these are within three miles) McLean's is Fridays and Falls Church's is Saturday's. I have to be downtown on Friday mornings for bar prep so the Saturday market it is.

-Preparation time is also an issue. I'm studying for the bar. When I'm not studying for the bar, I'm reading Harry Potter fanfic, writing self-pitying emails about how I can't concentrate and having sociological debates on Facebook. I like to cook but I don't cook much for myself. My guess is that folks on food stamps also often have this issue, too, so in a sense not going overboard with cooking is a hat tip to the part 2 analysis.

-TheCSO wanted to know about food that is being thrown away. If someone is about to throw away a sandwich, does that sandwich have to be organic for me to eat it? I've consulted the statement of conscience and decided that it is OK for me to eat the occasional thing that was about to be thrown out, but I may revisit that if I find myself abusing the privilege. (Hey, if I don't drink this can of Ginger Ale I opened and left on my own coffee table this morning, it's just going to waste...) I'm planning to do the same thing for friend's houses. As in, if I go to dinner at someone's house, I'm going to eat what they serve. People on food stamps are dinner guests too sometimes, and I have no intention of showing up and being like "Oh, by the way, this is what I eat this week" because I hate those people.

Honestly, the people most likely to invite me over are Fortiesgirl and Cerulean anyway and they're the sort of people who would regard this eating challenge as a chance to try out this great new recipe they have for gruel.*

Now today had a special challenge, a birthday party for a judge I used to work for. It was in a dive bar I love with amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. (Yes, the buried lede there is that I used to work for a judge so awesome that his birthday is in a dive bar. Indeed, I will venture to guess that this might have been the loudest judicial birthday party DC will see all year.)

My plan was have a beer. Dive bar beers are like three bucks. Guinness calls itself "a meal in a glass," right? So I ate very carefully all day, and like a happy little lamb I marched up to the slaughterhouse that was the Judge's birthday party.

It was right about when I hit the door that it occurred to me.

Per part 1, my beer needed to be organic.

Mother fuck**

I ate nada.

Not even cake.

Luckily I have the fat girl advantage as far as turning down cake. Everybody loves a fat girl who turns down cake. "Bless her heart," they think, "She's trying." I actually saw the skinny wife of another judge pressured in to cake. When I said "no thanks," my refusal was enthusiastically accepted.

Anyhow, here are my stats for the day:

Breakfast, as it were: (190 calories)
Energy bar @ .50

Peanut butter sandwich made of:
Two tablespoons organic peanut butter @ .28 (200 calories)
Two tablespoons organic raspberry spread @ .47 (45 calories)
Two slices of bread @ .20 each (110 each)

1/2 cup organic applesauce .23 (40 calories)

Box nature's promise organic macaroni and cheese: 1.59 (675 calories)
Cup of organic skim milk (for preparation, drank the rest) .47 (86 calories)

Daily Subtotal $3.94

Remaining amount in budget: $88.12

Approximate calories consumed: 1,417

Level of suck: A lot better than yesterday. It's hard to feel anything but awesome when you just ate a huge bowl of macaroni and cheese. Missing out on the grilled cheese and beers sucked at the time, but sweet mother of all that's swell that fake cheese powder over organic noodles made me happy.

Part 1 analysis: Pretty much perfect. Literally ever crumb that went into my body was organic today. I also didn't eat any meat.

Part 2 analysis: I totally get why poor people don't eat enough vegetables.


*Ok, truth is I've been meaning to try gruel since I read "Emma." I love Mr. Wodehouse. My interpretation is that it isn't that he's really a hypochondriac, he just hates change. As often as I advocate for change in things when I think it is the right thing to do, in my heart of hearts I can't stand it, which is why Mr. Wodehouse and I could totally be friends.

** If you're new to the Chaliceblog, you will find that I curse a lot. Most often in my head, but what I write in my head ends up here. I also curse at the youth a lot, but my church will tolerate a lot from anyone willing to spend a weekend sleeping on a floor with the youth group.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Ethical Eating Project - Day One

The major coup of the day (which actually occurred yesterday) was expired energy bars.

I know, kinda questionable, right? But I know a place that sells energy bars that are about to expire for 50 cents. I poked around there and found some organic ones. So I picked up quite a few. I probably won't make it to a Farmer's Market until Wednesday at earliest, so I had to content myself with some canned vegetables and one fresh tomato. I'm hoping that I will be able to do some good soups in the slow cooker once I make it to a farmer's market.

Anyway, here's what I ate and how much it cost: (calories)

Breakfast, as it were: (190 calories each)
Two energy bars @ .50 1

Tomato sandwich made of: 1.20
One organic tomato @ .80 (22 calories)
Two slices of bread @ .20 each (110 each)

Can of clam chowder* (280 calories) 1.50

Half can of vegetarian organic refried beans (140) .75
EVOL Bean and Cheese Burrito (440) 3.49

Daily Subtotal $7.94

Remaining amount in budget: $92.06

Approximate calories consumed: 1,482

Level of suck: So far, I'm ok, if a little hungry. I'm going to hold off on seeing if I need to eat another energy bar. If I do, I will come back and charge myself for it.

Part 1 analysis: I'm doing pretty well on the Ethical eating part. I'm probably eating more animal products than would be ideal, but for a first day's efforts, this seems pretty good.

Part 2 analysis: I was a little over eighty cents over budget. Not a big deal, but I need to figure out ways to eat about ten percent less expensively. The energy bars were a real find but probably shouldn't have had the burrito.


*Clams compassionately gathered, rest of soup organic. Clams are ok to eat from a sustainable fishing standpoint and I'm not sure how you'd mistreat a clam anyway. This soup is at Trader Joe's and I loved it, FWIW.

The Ethical Eating Project - Overview

First some background: at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, we passed a Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating. I didn't like it. Here is the draft closest to what we passed, though a few mostly superficial amendments were adopted from the floor. Kinsi had a nice discussion of the class issues in the first draft. There were some changes made to that draft (reflected in the draft at the first link) to at least tone down the overall elitist feel of the thing. To my reading, it still doesn't reflect a real understanding of how difficult this stuff actually is if you aren't upper middle class. Further, it was clear from the overall tone of the debate on the floor that people just didn't get what a privileged position we were speaking from.

In response, the (total cutie) Rev. Nate Walker issued the following challenge:

(Summary: Just as an experiment: try to live on the amount of money that folks on food stamps have to live on.)

What the Rev. Walker didn't do was actually put the two ideas together. What if someone on food stamps actually tried to live by our statement of conscience?

Now, "living by the statement of conscience" is something of a misnomer in that the statement of conscience itself doesn't list any real edicts, though goodness knows the vegetarians gave adding them a shot.

So, I've reviewed the latest draft of the statement I could find, and made the following food policies for myself that I plan to stick with for the next couple of weeks:

1. Eat meat (or chicken or fish) at most once a day
2. Only buy animal products that certify the animals have been well-treated.*
3. Buy Organic whenever possible**
4. Buy Local whenever possible.
5. Buy Fair trade whenever possible.
6. Eating Communally (Ok, I'm not even sure what this means so I'm honestly not doing it.)
7. Eat in quantities that do not lead to obesity.

So that's half of my project. Virginia's food stamp guidelines are relatively straightforward in forming the other half of my project:

Items that can be purchased with SNAP include:

Food or food products meant to be eaten by people
Vegetable seeds and food producing plants, roots, and trees for family consumption
Baby formula, diabetic, and diet foods
Edible items used in preparing or preserving food such as spices and herbs,
pectin, and shortening
Water and ice labeled for human consumption
Snack foods
Meals delivered to elderly or disabled SNAP recipients if the organization providing the meal is authorized to accept EBT cards

Items that cannot be purchased with benefits include:

Prepared hot foods in grocery stores
Any prepared food (hot or cold) sold and meant to be eaten at the store
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
Cleaning products, paper products, toiletries, and cooking utensils
Pet foods
Items for food preservation such as canning jars and lids, freezer containers, or food wrapping paper
Medicines, vitamins or minerals***
Items for gardening such as fertilizer and peat moss

I will add that I'm going to try to not eat out and if I do, the cost of whatever I order will come out of my budget. I realize food stamps can't be used to eat out at all, but I'm not completely screwing my social life just for this experiment. Also, if I find that this stuff is seriously getting in the way of studying for the bar, I will quit.

So there we go. TheCSO doesn't have to do this and the number of business lunches he eats would make it impractical, so I'm doing this by myself. Thus my budget is the amount of food stamps given to a single person: $200 per month or $100 for the two weeks I'm hoping to stick to this.

I haven't figured out what I will do if I go over to a friend's for dinner, money-wise or diet-wise.

I've eaten only ethical food today and have kept track of what I've spent on it and I will post an update tonight with how my first day went.

Cheap recipes very welcome.

FWIW, I have read the Rev. Naomi King's excellent fleshing out of the food stamp challenge. But I'm not living by it. Her points are well taken, though. My suburban self will have lots of choices that people who live in economically disadvantaged areas don't have. I will have in the back of my head that if I say to my husband "Screw this, let's go get some steaks," he will agree. Hell, I will have the car for the trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's this will require.

So whatever I do and however much I complain, keep in mind that I'm still doing a really privileged version of this.

Again, cheap recipes welcome.


*I'm granting myself a de minimis exception here. That's lawyer for "If the energy bar has a thin layer of milk chocolate and I have no way of knowing how the cow that made the tiny amount of milk that is in the small amount of milk chocolate was treated, I'm granting myself a pass on worrying about it."

** 3, 4, and to a lesser degree 5 conflict a lot. (My whole foods has organic tomatoes and local tomatoes, but none that are both. A purist would likely not buy tomatoes at all, but even the statement doesn't demand purism, so I just picked one.)

*** I am continuing to take medication and vitamins and I'm not taking the cost of them out of my budget.

(ADDED: Sara, I hit the wrong button and deleted your comment by accident. Your encouragement is appreciated, I'm just an idiot.)