Monday, May 19, 2014

The Fun Part

And now, it's time for the fun part of my eating experience! With the $20 I saved by eating for $1.50 per day this past week, I am able to buy a flock of chicks for a family through Heifer, International.

Flock of Chicks Changes Lives

Your gift of a flock of chickens gift donation helps provide a family in need with a starter flock of 10 to 50 chicks, along with the training that will empower them to turn your donation into a lifetime of opportunity. Each flock of chicks:
  • Provides eggs and protein for nourishment
  • Boosts income through sales of extra eggs and offspring
  • Ensures security for generations through Passing on the Gift
 Chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available scraps; this allows families to make money from the birds without spending much. And since a good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year, your flock of chickens gift provides a steady source of nutrition and income.

Wouldn't you love to be able to do this for someone? I learned so much by spending just one week eating on $1.50 per day. I'm sharing my experience because I would love to see others help with world hunger in this way!

Third World Eating: Day 7

Have you ever had Madras Vegetables? It makes such a tasty breakfast. This was made with a bag of coleslaw mix--98c a bag and it was buy one, get one free! There are also frozen peas, a bit of oil, a single arbol chili, and turmeric, salt, cayenne pepper, black mustard seeds, cumin, and madras curry powder. With all of these ingredients, it is still about 60c a serving. It is cool, fresh, and lovely for a spring or summer morning. And speaking of that...
Just look at the view outside my kitchen window this morning. The Seattle area is absolutely gorgeous this time of year! I feel so lucky to be living where I do, where it is nice and green, and where I have access to all of the different foods that are such a pleasure to eat.

I was reading more about Pierre Ferrari's experience of eating on less than $1.50 per day and realized that the challenge he participated in was called "Live below the Line." I read about his experience shopping, where he took $7.50 in cash to the store to spend for his weekly groceries. He was able to buy so much less than what I have been using, because I already have so many grains and spices and such in bulk. When you buy a small bag of rice in the grocery store, you pay so much more per serving than if you have a 50 pound bag.
Take, for example, this Thai purple rice (also known as "forbidden rice") that I had for lunch. This is my absolute favorite rice, and it is one of the more expensive rices. In my nearby grocery store, the Lotus Foods brand of organic forbidden rice costs $4.49 for a 15 oz bag! But when bought in bulk it is $2.89 a pound. Thus, I was able to have about a half-cup of this delicious rice and stay at 35c a serving.
I rounded out my lunch with a filling bowl of lentil soup, 15c per serving. Once again, the lentils were purchased in bulk, and therefore cost less. I imagine it would be much harder to purchase in bulk if you didn't have some start-up money to buy the large bags of rice and beans.
For dinner, I was once again craving fruit, so I had a 40-cent apple.

Total for the day came to $1.50. I could have eaten a lot more if I'd had lentils only, but I really liked the variety I was able to eat today. Come back tomorrow and see the culmination of this experiment of living below the poverty line!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Third World Eating: Day 6

I ate mostly leftovers today: An egg for breakfast, curried cauliflower dish and rice for lunch, and for dinner I had rice, curried cauliflower, and curried chickpeas. (Yes, I love curry!) The total came to a little over $1.50. I had a lot of rice for lunch, about 2 cups of it; and I was quite full. So I went off to work without packing a dinner, because I didn't think I would need it. I was so wrong. I got so hungry I couldn't think straight. I had to eat more. The leftovers I had for dinner don't look very appetizing in the pictures, but I wolfed them down!

I don't know if it is just me, but when I'm on this kind of a restricted diet it's impossible to skip a meal. It made me feel so sad for people who often go long periods of time without food. It's hard to work or do anything, really.

When I look at my blog posts for the past week and see just how much food I have eaten--and it really is pretty nourishing food--I can hardly believe how hungry I have been. I hate being hungry.

Can you believe I want to do this for another week? I'd like to experiment some more with this diet and see if I can eat some different things and some different quantities so that I won't feel hungry. I'll try to figure out calories and see how much it takes to make me feel satisfied. I might add some more fats to this diet and see if that is what has kept me from feeling full. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Third World Eating: Day 5

I was in a bit of a rush this morning, so I grabbed a hard-boiled egg. I've discovered that eating this way is not convenient. Especially when it comes to breakfast. There are so many convenience foods that make breakfast quick and easy here in the States, but they are not easily available in third world countries, or else they are empty calories, or too expensive. The protein in this 17-cent egg kept me going on a nearly 5-mile hike this morning!

When I got home at noon, I had to rush off to work, so I was looking for something quick and easy to pack for my lunch and dinner as well. I settled for more upma for lunch. I just smashed 2 cups of it into a container, noticing that it was nice and fresh from being refrigerated. Maybe that was cheating, too? Again, I realized how lucky I was to have a way to keep food fresh.

Dinner was chana masala, made from curried chickpeas. I estimate that this was about 50c a serving, and it was soooooo spicy! I didn't need much of it to fill me up, because of the spiciness. But I ate around 5 pm, and after 6 I've been really hungry.

Total cost for today, about $1.55.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Third World Eating: Day 4

Is it really only Day 4? Seems like I have been doing this for a long time now! Do you know that upma is the perfect breakfast food? I'd much rather have my semolina like this than like cream of wheat, with butter and sugar. It's tasty and spicy, and starts the day off just right. 37c a serving, and I kept to just one--but I really wanted more! Afterward, I went for a 2 mile walk, and I felt energetic.

Off to work, and I brought my lunch and dinner with me. I was craving some sort of fruit, so for lunch I splurged on an apple. I really don't know how plentiful fruit is in poverty-stricken countries. It was maybe cheating to have an apple, so I took a very small one. I accompanied it with about a quarter cup of hummus. My estimation for the total cost of lunch is around 50c. I was still hungry after I ate that, so I had a little bit of my dinner, too.

Here is my dinner. It was so cheap! A cup of rice and a cup of dal--22c. I didn't even heat it up. Brown rice has really been a staple of this diet. It fills me up and only costs about 2c a cup, since I buy my rice in bulk (50 pound bags!) This is the only way to buy rice, by the way.

Total cost for the day was $1.09. I could have had another apple!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Third World Eating: Day 3

Note: I am cranky.

Breakfast was spiced Dal (yellow lentils) which cost 20c a cup. This was accompanied by a boiled egg, 17c. I found it filling and delicious. As you get hungrier, food tastes really, really good.

I ate early, around 7am, and I didn't really feel any hunger until around noon. But there was a lot of cooking going on around here in the early afternoon. On the menu was a vegetable upma. Here's a picture of the ingredients used in this dish.

It looks like a lot of stuff, but this upma can be made with whatever vegetables are available. Pictured is 98c worth of cabbage mix, 1/4 lb of cut up cauliflower stems (people usually throw these in the trash!) a few cashew pieces, I estimated 10c, $1.00 worth of semolina, 50c of zucchini, 25c of peas, and less than 2c worth of each of the following: salt, hot chili, urad dal, rye, cumin, and turmeric.

The finished product was estimated to cost 37c a serving.
I think something similar could be made in third world countries using veggies from the garden or from the market.

Here's the finished product, all ready to eat. It made quite a bit--8 to 10 servings. This was a really filling dish as well. I limited myself to 1 cup, but I was satisfied for several hours.

It really is amazing how much inexpensive food is available to us in the U.S. It does take time to make things from scratch, but using grains and dried legumes is healthy, satisfying, and cheap.

Right after I ate this, I walked to my place of employment and worked fairly strenuously for 8 hours. Midway through, I had my dinner, which I had packed from home. It was rice and more of the spiced Dal from this morning. I was surprised that I didn't feel any of the hunger I felt yesterday. But now that I am home and it is late, I feel grumpy. So it's off to bed, and only 4 more days to go!

Total cost for the day: 96 cents.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Third World Eating: Day 2

I made it through Day 2! I had to work from 6 to 8am, so I waited to have breakfast when I returned. This is a bowl of quinoa with edamame and arame (seaweed). This was not a cheap dish to make, but once again, it was leftover in the fridge, and I only had 1/2 cup of it. Homemade, it cost about 40c. I have bought this exact thing in the store and it is about 4x more expensive. The hard-boiled egg was 17c. It lasted me about an hour before I was hungry.

Lunch was a cup of rice, (2c) and some more of the cauliflower dish that I had yesterday (44c). I am eating on small sized dishes to make it seem like it is more than it is! I feel like I'm getting a lot more variety and nutrition than would be possible if I were really in a third-world country. Spices really help a lot, and the amount used in all of the dishes makes them cost a penny or two. I just don't think they would be available in many parts of the world. The next time I send a care package as part of a service project, I'd like to include small packages of spices.

Dinner! I know this looks like a piece of chicken with rice, but nope. This is more of the hummus from yesterday, costing 45c. The rice adds 2c more. This meal actually filled me up a bit more than I thought it would. The hummus is sprinkled with a dash of paprika.

I can say that I felt hunger for most of the day. It wasn't enough to keep me from doing what I needed to do, but I definitely noticed it. Looking at these pictures, it seems like it should be plenty of food for one person. So I figured out the calories in these foods, and came up with 1857. That's certainly more than enough to sustain life, but less than I am used to eating.
Total cost today: Exactly $1.50.

Another thing: I was out and about today, and I saw this. Watermelons, the first I have seen of the season. Ordinarily I would have bought one, just on an impulse. But then I realized that the price of one of these watermelons would be the cost of an entire week of meals in the third world!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Third World Eating: Day 1

This morning I started with some leftover cheesy omelet from yesterday's breakfast. It certainly isn't anything someone from the Third World would have available to eat. But I've got to finish my leftovers or let them go to waste. This was just a small corner of an omelet, and probably used about one egg (17c) and 2 oz of cheese (38c). I was lazy and didn't count the onions, peppers and mushrooms that were in the omelet either, since there was such a small quantity. Then I only ate half of it, and saved the rest for lunch.

Here's what I had for lunch. On the top part of the bowl is the rest of the leftover omelet. It gave me a lot of my protein for the day. Then I added a scoop of rice. A whole cup of rice costs about 2c ! Now you know why people who don't have extra money for food eat a lot of rice. It fills you up and doesn't break the bank. On the right hand side of the plate is hummus. Not the kind you get from the store in a little plastic container. This was made this morning from dried chickpeas. When you make it this way, it costs 45c per cup. I think that serving was a lot smaller than a cup, but I just counted the 45c. I'll get better at measuring later!

After lunch, I had almost spent my limit, and I was really hungry. I drank a lot of water during the afternoon, trying to fill myself up. As I was drinking my nice glass of ice water, I realized that in the third world it probably wouldn't be so easy to get ice for drinks, so I decided to go with cool tap water for the rest of the week. For dinner, I had more rice, and a curried cauliflower dish, using some cauliflower that was in the fridge and needed to be used. I figured out that a cup of that cauliflower dish was 44c. I ate dinner about 4:30, because I was pretty hungry.

Total cost for today's meals was $1.48. The key to keeping it so low is definitely making the meals from scratch. Dried beans and grains are going to form most of my diet for the next week.

So far, so good!

Eating in the Third World

Last week I read a blog post by Pierre Ferrari, CEO of Heifer International. He wrote to share his experience of eating for one day below the poverty line ($1.50). I thought this would be a fantastic way to raise my awareness of third-world eating, and decided to do this for one week. I estimate that with all the meals, snacks, drinks, and eating out that I do, I spend between $5 and $10 a day for my food. This is a small bit I can pass on to help solve world hunger.