Saturday, June 02, 2007

Random weekend thoughts and the Food Stamp Challenge

i was a spectator for the kansas city hospital hill half marathon today. it was hard. i am never going to spectate again...i wanted to run too badly. unable to reconcile my non-half-marathon shape, i biked the route (and more) following friends and cheering them on. it was fun to support people i care about, but it was no match to running it. if i'd have swallowed my pride and just run it - even if my time wouldn't be up to snuff - i would have felt better. life lessons, i guess. the good news is, while riding the sidestreets from downtown to midtown to brookside, i saw some amazing things in my amazing city that i hadn't slowed down to view before.

if you aren't subscribing to good magazine, you should be. i keep being surprised and overwhelmed by the content.

i got completely cut off while riding on mission road on thursday...i'm staring at my bare, bruised and scraped knee right now and wishing i could spend some time with the dork driver who looked me in the eye, then accelerated at a stoplight to cut me off at the turn. i did what i had to do and spilled to the curb. bruised hip and knee, and scrapes to show.

so i bought my weeks worth of groceries today, according to the 38 bucks i had to spend for the Food Stamp Challenge. it was not hard at all, and thanks to harvesters' talented dietician stephanie, who searched the sales and planned meals for the week, i really am not going to eat all that differently from how i normally eat. (minus a bottle of chardonnay for tonight's backyard relaxation session and some dog treats and swiffer refills, i spent 30 bucks flat on food for the week - 8 bucks to go out?)

what i did notice is that with my allotted 38 bucks (the average a Kansas household with one person gets with food stamps), i was basically unable to buy the organic and local food i am used to purchasing at the store. many things i purchased were very healthy and mostly fresh, but none were organic. normally i buy all organic produce and as much cheese/beverage/snacks as i can find. my breakfast cereal is always organic. my snacks - from tortilla chips to salsa - are organic. but i have now, after my food stamp challenge, absolutely nothing organic to eat next week and that freaks me out. i also, according to the rules, am not allowed to drink my organic coffee at home (because it was not purchased according to the plan) and now must drink the bulk we have at the office all week.

this is just not acceptable in my opinion. not only is it not acceptible for my palate and values, it's a pretty clear picture as to why irresponsible companies and practices thrive, while local farmers, organic and socially-conscious companies struggle, and the working poor have no real opportunity to voice what may be very passionate opinions on food quality and food origin.

i'm being careful not to get on a soapbox here. the food stamp challenge taught me that i certainly can eat and be full with the allotted amount - though it's humbling and difficult - but my sense of self is what is stripped away. i am proud of my ability to walk past certain aisles in the store and pay an extra dollar or 50 cents for something that is more in line with my ethical makeup. but when strapped - i just plain can't exercise that power of consumerism. and that - in my opinion - is where the inequality lies.

if you're curious as to what i bought, here's the run down (keep in mind some ingredients will be part of shared meals with other participants). the stars denote what i'd buy in organic form normally:
New potatoes*
Whole chicken*
Jonathan apples*
Rice cereal*
Orange juice*
Soy milk (can't take me from my Silk)
Swiss cheese
Deli turkey
Eggs* (this killed me...normally i buy cage free, responsibly fed)
Diced tomatoes
Baby Portobello mushrooms

This is basically my weekly list, with a lot more fresh produce added and some meat choices, but you can see how many items suffered because of my inability to afford organic versions.

if you aren't registered, there's still time. do this. learn about life outside your own. you're not going to starve. you're not going to get off your diet plan. you just might have to be a bit smarter, more frugal and savvier to reach your goals. and in the process, might be more thankful for what you have to spend on food each week.

the good folks at brains on fire (it's been too long since i posted on their musings) have a great post on client relationships, in particular, on pro-bono work. but the gist of the post speaks to all clients, paying, pro-bono or deadbeat :)) as always, way to stick to your company's ethics, personality and ideals, guys. good things come to those who do good.


Anonymous Spike Jones said...

Thanks for the shout out, Andy. "Good things come to those who do good." I'm gonna have to lift that and use it somewhere (with your permission, of course).

9:37 AM  
Blogger Leslie Jones said...

I'll for sure check this challenge out. While I always enjoy the (organic) meat of your entries, for some reason I frequently get stuck on whatever random (and in my opinion, hysterical) phrase you use, typically in your opening paragraphs. This time it was "up to snuff." I read and took to heart the whole entry, of course, but I was giggling to myself the rest of the way through. And don't doubt I'll use "up to snuff" in a sentence today.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Andy Woolard said...

Leslie! I figured you'd dig this Food Stamp Challenge. Get it going in Washington.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry for being anonymous here... I don't want my true identity being associated with the anger I'm feeling.


first) you are not at all doing this in the correct spirit. screw your organic values and consider what someone on food stamps really needs - the most energy from the least amount of food dollars.

second) do some research; the entire reason organics and locals are expensive is because almost everything else is subsidized (read the papers - corn syrup is pretty much cheaper - cost to produce versus cost at selling - than any other liquid commodity). therefore all the gross packaged foods (calorie-dense) are so much cheaper than the fresh foods (nutrient-dense) we actually need and want!

I hope people are starting to realize that a week without our organic coffee is a weak strike against the actual culprit, government-subisidized unhealthy foods.

12:16 AM  

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