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Living Below the Line: Day 4 Recap

There's no video recap tonight because I'm ridiculously tired and it occured to me that I've been trying to post twice a day here and I wrote two pieces for Babble, a post on celebrating girls for Little Pickle Press, and my piece for MamaPop. On top of that, someone called in a favor last night and needed a quick freelance article that I whipped up because it's a topic I know well. I also worked at my day job on a particularly strenuous week and supervised the World's Longest Track Meet during which someone close to the track was firing up the BBQ grill. Torture.

There's so much that's bothering me through this challenge. Food is everywhere but it's not for everyone. I noticed at work that someone left a Jiffy Peanut Butter to-go cup in the kitchen and I thought, "That's way too expensive but awfully convenient. I wish I could take along snacks like that." After that, I noticed that one of my co-workers left an empty yogurt cup on the counter and when I bent down to look at it I laughed at the very pretentiousness of the marketing. 


Vanilla agave flavored New Zealand style artisan yogurt. I'm sure you're delicious, but that name cracked me up.

You know how when you buy a new car and then start driving it and it feels like you see it everywhere? You pass other cars and notice it in parking lots and everywhere you go. That's what it's been like this week except you notice all the other cars - the good ones (like yours) and the bad ones (different). I've noticed good food and bad food all week long and make comparisons every time. I read an article about "organic" food and cackled at the line where it talked about how people choose organic because they don't want to ingest pesticides. I call shenanigans. Poor people don't want to ingest pesticides, either, but we produce foods with GMOs and sell it cheaply to them. 

It's all ludicrous and maddening.

I did all that working and writing and supervising while eating poorly designed food in the best way The Cuban could possibly prepare it on a dollar and a half. I've noticed, after 4 short days, that my skin is breaking out on my face and I've lost a bit of weight in some places but my stomach is poofing out a bit from all the carbohydrates I'm consuming. Without being too graphic let's just say that THINGS AREN'T WORKING LIKE THEY SHOULD. We are convinced that carbs make you lazy because they're so lazy. They don't even evenly distribute around your body when you eat too much of them and they're so lazy that they just hang around the middle of your body. 

Carbs can't even make it down past the middle.

Stupid, useless, lazy carbs. 

So, tonight's recap post comes in the form of a message I got from a friend who is a teacher. I've only edited it enough to take out identifying characteristics but that's ancillary to the message.

The message is The Thing.

Okay, something happened today that knocked me WAY off balance, then broke my heart, then made me think of your food challenge (very brave of you, by the way). I took my Scholastic Bowl team to Baskin Robbins on Wednesday as an end-of-season treat. I got my husband to 'sponsor' our trip and I told the kids that they could get anything (but just ONE thing) that they wanted.

They were VERY carefully asking questions like, "Can I get the LARGE smoothie?" and "Is it okay to get TWO scoops?" My husband gave me plenty of money, so I said, "Sure! Anything you want!" We ate until they simply couldn't eat any more (one very little guy even got teary-eyed that he couldn't finish all of his and it would melt if he tried to take it home).

We walked back to school, they whipped up a Thank You poster for me to take to my husband for the ice cream treats and while they did that, I cleaned up my room for the day. I put the poster in my bag with ten thousand papers to grade and (gasp) forgot to get it out for my husband last night.

We got it out tonight and I read their comments (here's the heart-breaking part) and FOUR of the kids commented about how much they enjoyed their FIRST TRIP TO BASKIN-ROBBINS. Another one said, "Thank you for my very first banana split!" Seriously. I don't know why this left me speechless, but it did. I mean, these kids are so very bright, they possess so much knowledge, I guess I just assumed...I don't know...maybe that they all came from 'families of means', families with disposable incomes that included trips to BR. I know that probably sounds awful, but after spending all of this time with these kids, I just felt like I knew them all really well and then...anyway, it made me appreciate what you're doing on a whole new level. So I guess what I'm trying to say is this -- thanks for the insight. Seriously.

It's stories like this that make this all give me a new perspective on hunger and poverty. One of my greatest struggles this week is trying not to be constantly infuriated with the way we feed people in the world. On that front, I've failed. My anger is palpable at this very moment.

Thank you for hanging in there with me this week. Together, we've raised $650 for the World Food Program USA and, while this is merely an inconvenience for me, it has been difficult, but only because we can actually fix this problem.

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Reader Comments (4)

I think the message that you received is pretty spot on about how food insecurity works in the US. For the most part food insecurity is hidden but to be honest it is more common than most of us realize. I have been in social services for 15+ years and have spent the past 4 years working with youth. I applaud you for what you are doing and hope that it give people a reason to pause and really think about hunger in the US.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBlackgirlinmaine

I was all set to giggle about "artisanal" food with you, and then you had to go and make me all sniffle-y thinking about teams of bright kids who had never been taken out for ice cream.

Seriously, though, I have a good friend who spent many years working as a restaurant cook. Every time he sees the word "artisan" applied to a food product, he gets all ranty and allows as how he suspects that rather than highly-paid, comfortable, creative artists, said foodstuff is probably prepared by Mexican immigrants making minimum wage, which is not quite the marketing image being created by your hilarious yogurt.

May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

Love your writing and your perspective and your willingness to do something difficult to achieve something important. You make this world a better place-and that's really inspiring.

May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

What happened to the rest of the week? I'm not seeing it, so was wondering if I missed it? I'm really wanting to see how it ended.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngie W.

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