Friday, May 11, 2012

#belowtheline, day five

my colleagues say that it's time to re-throw away the rest of the dumpster doughnuts. they're pretty gooey (yet crusty and dry) from living in a crowded garbage bag for three days (though we did re-bag them before bringing them to the office.) i read the other day that on average, each of us sends our own body weight’s worth of food to the trash each year. can you believe that? 

technically, we're composting the d-nuts so it feels a tiny bit better.  still feels wrong though, like it's against my better survival judgement.

there's just so much to say about the lack of food for all humans.  the bill & melinda gates foundation was built upon the belief that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life.  so on this last LBL day as i schedule meetings, book international travel, and reconcile expenses, my growling tummy reminds me i'm working for a greater good. we're working for, who we call, "the boss" -- shown below:

tyler just sent me a link to a cnn article that proved to be most ironic... apparently, today is "national eat what you want day." wow.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

#belowtheline, jackpot

while walking our pup yesterday, i noticed a familiar looking shrub near the park. i bent down to get a whiff of the bush and sure enough, it smelled like my catholic, portuguese, grandmother's kitchen after she'd burned the sprigs of green (to ward off evil spirits, of course.)

mmm... rosemary.

one of tyler's favorite dishes that i make is rosemary potatoes.  praise the lord, we saved the potatoes for the end of the week so today, i diced a whole 38 cent spud, sprinkled bits of rosemary on top and threw it in a pan on the stove.  we can't afford oil on $1.50 a day so i improvised with a bit of water and covered the pan, adding more water when it would evaporate.

the end result: bliss in seasoned starch form.

#belowtheline, day four

today marks the first day i woke up hungry.  likely had to do with the fact that tyler and i were out late at a concert downtown.  or the fact that i'm only consuming about 700-800 calories per day.  as i mentioned on facebook, standing up for 4+ hours on $1.50 of food proved to be challenging.

also challenging: the aroma of beer permeating throughout the music venue.  i wonder how many people around the world chose beer over food? i know i was tempted. not that we had enough money left anyway.

yesterday we bought another dozen eggs and three bananas.  one of my LBL coworkers, lorna, gave us two carrots she bought in exchange for an extra doughnut. another LBL colleague brought us a big bag of kale from her garden which i bought from her for the 10 cents worth of seed money.  this puts us at $14.48 out of $15.00.

what could we buy for 42 cents?

on our walk down to work, i spotted some gems on the sidewalk:

tyler wouldn't let me take the wilted greens though.  he reminded me of the carrot i have to look forward to.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

#belowtheline, family

morale was high at the office today after carting in the 12lb bag of doughnuts.  I'd say we went through about 3-4lbs today between my LBL colleagues and a couple of my coworkers who were not LBLer but ate  one or two anyway.  (yes, these non-LBLers were fully aware the d-nuts were from a dumpster.)

a friend from high school asked me on facebook "What if someone who is actually below the poverty line was waiting for em?"  i thought about that but not until after i had already grabbed the entire bag.  i do wonder if i had found the bag in a developing country... would i have taken the whole thing? would i have taken only what i needed and left the rest for others?  would i have taken the bag and NOT shared it with anyone else outside of my family?

family.  there's something i've been thinking a lot about.  when i told my sister that i was participating in the living below the line challenge, she said she got teared up thinking about not being able to adequately feed her 2 month old son. this is a reality that millions of mothers live with.  while tyler and i don't have kids yet, i  still have a family.  i've found myself giving tyler food off my plate, even if it means being hungry myself.  i don't say this to sound noble but rather to express the deep need to care for others, no matter the personal cost.  how painful it must be to not be able to give adequate food to your child.

my fellow LBLer, Lea, said something that rings true: "It's not pleasant being hungry most of the day... but I'm humbled at the twisted luxury of feeling it by choice." 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

#belowtheline, diving

after my dinner of plain pasta and 1/2 cup of milk, i was itching for something sweet. i had heard that top pot doughnuts was notorious for neatly triple-bagging their leftover baked goods and stashing them in an almost-empty dumpster on top of queen anne.  it was time to investigate myself.

the result? 41 beautiful doughnuts (that's over three dozen!) some with pink icing, others with chocolate toppings, and lots with sugar glaze... sweet, sweet sugary glaze.


Even though it's in the rules to steal from people's gardens and dumpster dive, this felt a bit like cheating. I've decided to limit myself to one per day (trust me, i want 4.) and will definitely be bringing our spoils into the office for my other LBTL friends.

UPDATE: as of 8:57pm, 2 hours post-doughnut binge, i have a major headache.  guess my body wasn't ready for all that sugar right away...

#belowtheline, day two

in my fog of carbs and legumes, i miscalculated how many eggs we should have per day to stretch it out over the work week.  for some odd reason, i thought we could each have two eggs per morning and still have two left over after five days... but definitely not true when you only bought one dozen eggs.  we're approaching day three with only 4 eggs left over for the two of us.  so we can either use our left over $2.05 to buy another dozen eggs or save our money and gnaw on plain oats on thursday and friday.  poor gluten-intolerant tyler.

in other news - i almost ate a stray morsel of salt water taffy that has been sitting on my desk for the last three weeks.  not on purpose... my eyes spotted it between meetings and my tummy said "GIMME NOW."  

i resisted.  

the mutual accountability and support at work helps.  we check in with each other often, especially during the peak hunger points (11:15am and 3:45pm for me) and even share our resources when someone gets a little shaky.  i get why the importance of community living was stressed in biblical times - it's how people survived. 2 Corinthians 8:12-14 says,
"Give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality.  Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal."
other thoughts to come - what this "living below the poverty line for five days" challenge would look like if tyler and i had children.  whoa.

Monday, May 7, 2012

#belowtheline, day one

we started off day one of five by waking up early to cook our breakfast and lunch.  breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs (two for each of us) and a dab of whole milk.  tyler makes the best eggs (even without salt or oil) so he took care of that while i prepared the pasta and sauce.

if you know me, you know i love pasta.  mostly plain pasta with butter, maybe some pesto... i could eat it every day, all day.  i make it quite often.  so i threw 2.5 cups in some boiling water and continued to get ready for the day.

forgot to set a timer.  whoops.

as i strained the grains, i accidentally dropped some of said-overcooked pasta on the kitchen floor.  i picked it up and threw it back in the pot.  (don't judge me - you would have done the same!)

at work, i enjoyed a snack of 1/2 banana and some peanut butter and gulped down my overcooked pasta with sauce.  felt pretty good, albeit a little tired.

more out of boredom than anything, i did drink almost a gallon of water.

my spirits are high.  my blood sugar levels are stable.  and the chances i'll cheat before tyler gets home remain low.

off to boil my lentils. (water) cheers!

#belowtheline, the preparations

on sunday, tyler and i grabbed a quick lunch from trader joe's. without too much thought, i picked out the southwestern pita wrap, tyler instictively chose the bbq chicken wrap. we grabbed a bag of veggie chips to split and cashed out at $9.56.

not too bad for the two of us. but when you only have $1.50 to spend on food per day, you find yourself being a lot more thoughtful when you walk around the trader joe isles. 1.4 BILLION - that's over 4 times the population of the United States - live every day in extreme poverty. for five days, tyler and i (as well as 12 of my colleagues&family) will live below the poverty line by spending only $7.50 on food. after intently searching at three local stores, here's where we landed for the two of us for the week:

$0.19 /each Bananas (6) from Trader Joe's
$0.38 /each Potatoes (2) from Trader Joe's
$1.29 /32 oz Pasta from Safeway
$2.00 /26 oz Tomato sauce from Safeway
$1.59 /dozen Eggs from Trader Joe's
$1.79 /1/2 gallon Vitamin D milk from Trader Joe's

What we thought we could afford but couldn't:
$0.79 /16 oz Carrots at Trader Joe's
$0.69 /each Sweet Potatoes at Trader Joe's

 in addition to our own shopping, we met with some colleagues to discuss group purchases to save money. mentally, this was the most challenging part for me so far. i began to panic - what if they spend too much of my meager allowance? what if they don't buy enough? what if they buy foods i don't like? ...what if i get hungry?

that's the point isn't it? to experience the attempt of trying to survive on not nearly enough.

as a group, we managed to purchase the following for $2.09/per person:

2.5 cups of rice
1.25 cups lentils
2.5 cups oats
9 tbsp peanut butter
1 head of garlic ($0.20 extra - luxury item)

this means, so far, tyler and i have spent $12.95 out of $15.00 for the two of us. perhaps we could buy a few more bananas. well, 10 more bananas to be exact.