Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Motivation for amputation

Daddy pays for the wedding with a fistful of dollars, costs as much as the state of Guatemala- Sheryl Crow, "Motivation"

I want to take some time to explain my motivations a little bit. You see, for me this is an experiment - a month long experience in the reality that faces an ever-increasing number of Americans. Forty million Americans nationwide are on foodstamps, a number that equals the populations of Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, and all of Florida with room to spare. In some major areas, like New York City, as many as one in five citizens are on foodstamps, which has lead New York City's Mayor Bloomberg to take the contentious step of attempting the use of food stamps for soda purchases - an attempt to regulate health concerns that rankles both consumers and producers of the sugary beverages. (For more information, check out this Gothamist article) Foodstamps are a public concern, and they are part of the public you live in whether you realize it or not.

Poverty, and its impact on the lives of people, is by no means a new topic. So long as there has been the exchange of goods and services, someone has been on the low end of that scale. In some cultures it has been codified and regimented, in others it's simply a social taboo. In American culture, thankfully, the effects of poverty are less pronounced than in what we would call the third world. In America, it is very hard to die from starvation. (Dying from being poor is entirely possible, thanks to the way our healthcare system is run, but that would be the subject of a whole different blog.) In America, while there are absolutely physical effects to poverty (such as obesity, increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and a myriad of other problems that we will discuss later), there are a preponderance of psychological issues that go along with being impoverished. While I certainly will talk about the physical effects of hunger, exhaustion, etc. that the experiment will undoubtedly have on me, I want to really explore the psychological effects.
However, as some of you know, I've done this experiment before, in June of 2007. Many of the results will be unsurprising to me; I've been through them before, though I did not blog about the entire experience. Certainly some things will be different; pretty much everything has gone up significantly in price since 2007, so making wise food choices will be more of a challenge now than it was then. What I'm really hoping to do is to impact all of you, either through my words or by getting you to join me in the challenge.
There are lots of ways you can join in. The biggest (and hardest) way would be to do as I do - eschew your car, eat on three dollars a day, do it for the whole month. I'm not asking anyone to make that sacrifice. A more reasonable request would be to ask you to follow the Congressional Food Stamp challenge - simply put, that you eat on three dollars a day for one week. It's an enlightening experience, one worth having.

Lastly, if you think this experiment has any validity at all, if you think something will be learned here that is worth learning, I ask that you share it with others.


LaserDollars said...

Its always the 'have's and 'have not's in the world.
As a student, I spend about $30 a week on food, basically consisting of ramen noodles, pasta, and vitamins. I've taken to carrying my nalgene with me everywhere and getting free water whenever I can!
great post! following!

VenomForMasses said...

It is time we/western society pull back from our hallucinogenic state, in which we take for granted "basic" things like food, fresh drinking water and minerals. Great post, thx for following.

Alaina said...

I think it's interesting that you noted that it's difficult to die of starvation here. It's definitely easy to suffer from malnutrition when you're forced to live on a low-budget diet though. With a few dollars you care more about what'll fill your belly than what'll be the healthiest.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog you've got going here. I'm looking forward to see where you go with this. Seems a very Christ-like thing for you to do, in my opinion.

Kyrie Eleison,

Anonymous said...

I'm not american, but I'll be following your experiment.

Bouchequett said...

i agree with LaserDollars, a student can make $30 a week.

randomer said...

This is a really interesting experiment, I imagine you have a lot of work ahead of you.

rave.n said...


This is a challenging read. Don't know if I am brave enough to step up and follow your lead yet.

I do recognize the luxury of deciding how much to spend on food rather than determining how to stretch a little.

Following Your Blog,