Today begins our week-long examination of food insecurity in America. To better understand what it’s like for the 50 million Americans who have trouble putting dinner on the table.
It seems disingenuous, as a man eating three meals a day, to complain about hunger. But damn.
Several times, I’ve stood behind someone in line at the grocery as they bought piles of Kool-Aid packets with food stamps and wondered why they would waste their allotment on such empty calories. Right now I would shiv someone for a glass of that lime-lemon magic.
The deeper we get into this experiment, the more we realize it’s not about the SNAP allotment. That was merely a jumping off point. The greater issue is that we’ve created a system where low-income families are unable to provide for themselves.
So let’s talk about some of the other stuff. Let’s talk about going out with your friends to a Tuesday night movie and not being able to buy the small popcorn or the small soda, like they do, because those things are too spendy (even when they’re on special for $1.50 each).
An almost continuous five-day headache reached a skull-thumping crescendo by lunchtime. That, coupled with the total inability to regulate my blood sugar, made for the delightful feeling of my internal organs spinning in a food processor.
In the end, we coasted to the finish line with ease. So why do we still feel so much unease?
The food-stamp diet is over, for us, and we can breathe a deep, soul-cleansing breath with heady notes of arugula, mizuna, kale, asian turnips, Juliet tomatoes, Easter egg radishes, poblanos, okra and garlic. We are lucky.
The Food Stamp Diet had an unexpected side effect — it temporarily destroyed my love of cooking. Food was a burden that week. A trip to the grocery store? Just a reminder of what we couldn’t have. And preparing a meal for Brad was laced with feelings of inadequacy.
Being a scientist, I like to talk numbers since it’s an easy way to objectively look at the results of an experiment. So when a friend suggested evaluating the food stamp diet based on calories, that seemed like a pretty good idea.