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View Diary: Mario Batali - Living on Food Stamps (310 comments)

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  •  I have done a study (4+ / 0-)

    that suggests that a family of four can easily live on about $3.00 a day per person in northern Indiana where I live. All numbers are from actual prices within five miles of my house in the past two weeks. This is my typical daily diet:

    1 serving oatmeal with milk and sugar
    1 serving pancakes topped with applesauce
    1 6 oz. glass V-8 (store brand)
    $0.60 -- 546 calories -- 20 grams protein

    2 oz. chicken breast
    1.5 cups rice and beans
    1 8 oz. glass of milk
    8 oz. vegetables
    1 biscuit
    $0.80 -- 721 calories -- 36 grams protein

    4 oz. pork loin
    1 14 oz. baked potato
    8 oz. vegetables
    1 8 oz. glass of milk
    1 biscuit
    $1.36 -- 856 calories -- 52 grams protein

    Let's add $.24 a day for such things as salt, pepper, ketchup, cooking oil, etc.  The daily total comes to:
    $3.00 -- 2123 calories -- 108 grams high quality protein -- Bon appetit!

    Looks great, doesn't it? But there is a catch. (You knew there would be a catch, right?)

    First, this diet assumes you live in one of the most affordable areas in the country, like I do. If you live in a big city, prices will be considerably higher.

    Second, this diet assumes you have the time and cooking skill to prepare things like biscuits, rice and beans, pancakes and milk (a blend of whole milk and reconstituted dry milk) from scratch.

    Third, you need to be able to shop for the best prices available. Of course, this means spending money on gasoline (assuming you have a car). Big problem here.

    Fourth, this diet assumes you are at home for all three daily meals. If you are at work or school, you might need some foods that are more convenient (i.e. more expensive).

    Fifth, it means that most of the items in a typical supermarket are unavailable to you. For example, coffee, strawberries, asparagus, steak, avocados, oiranges, cheerios, cheese, seafood, and a host of other desireable foods are simply way too expensive to consider. In particular, there are only a handful of fresh fruits and vegetables that are affordable.

    So, do you still want to live on a food stamp diet?

    Occupy is the symptom. Fundamental reform is the cure.

    by Tim DeLaney on Thu May 17, 2012 at 11:49:07 AM PDT

    •  It also assumes.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moira977

      You can drink milk. Try making a similar diet with someone allergic to caesin in your household, who is also a very picky eater (can't stand the tactile sensation of rice, oatmeal, won't drink V-8), and doesn't like potatoes outside of fries.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Thu May 17, 2012 at 01:32:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, I don't drink milk (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, Tim DeLaney

        and don't eat very many vegetables, because the entirety of the cabbage and bean families annoy my gut, and I am sensitive to fructose.

        When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

        by Alexandra Lynch on Thu May 17, 2012 at 03:56:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My son is autistic... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tim DeLaney, Alexandra Lynch

          He has a lot of sensory issues with food, even at 16, he had more when he was younger. Milk is an allergy, the rest, well, I can serve him rice all I want, he won't eat it. Ditto with salad, oatmeal, tomatoes, potatoes, ect. He does eat a lot of pasta, and PB&J sandwiches. And he loves meat.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Thu May 17, 2012 at 04:51:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The "food stamp diet" (0+ / 0-)

        obviously cannot cater to every possible allergy and food preference. If I cannot tolerate the tactile sensation of many economical foods, then I'm in big trouble. Similarly, a gluten allergy or lactose intolerance would be a problem.

        my original intent was to contrast the the plight of hundreds of millions of starving people worldwide to that of people in this country. I suspect that most people who didn't enjoy rice would somehow choke it down rather than die of starvation.

        Still, you have a valid point. Not everybody can tolerate every food.

        Occupy is the symptom. Fundamental reform is the cure.

        by Tim DeLaney on Thu May 17, 2012 at 05:40:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tim DeLaney

          I do have to juggle my son's tolerances and allergies while on food stamps, so do a lot of other parents. Sometimes tolerances can be overcome, allergies however cannot. I know several people with autistic children who cannot have wheat or milk products at all. Luckily my son can tolerate wheat. What about kids who can't tolerate red dye, or nuts, etc?

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Thu May 17, 2012 at 05:47:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  This is amazing (0+ / 0-)

      4 oz. pork loin
      1 14 oz. baked potato
      8 oz. vegetables
      1 8 oz. glass of milk
      1 biscuit

      *$1.36* -- 856 calories -- 52 grams protein

      In my area, the 8 oz. vegetables alone would use up pretty much all of the $1.36. What are your costs for those things?

      •  It's actually legit ... (0+ / 0-)

        Pork loin @ $1.97 / lb     $.49
        Potatoes @ $0.49 / lb    $.43
        8 oz. milk (50/50)           $.13
        8 oz. Veggies                 $.27
        1 biscuit                         $.04

        Notes:

        Pork loin was on sale with no limit on quantity. I bought some, and it was OK, but admittedly not of the highest quality. Still, it was quite lean, and I still have some in my freezer.

        Milk is 50% whole milk and 50% reconstituted nonfat dry milk. Whole milk:$2.40 / gal at Aldi / reconstituted dry milk $1.76 / gal

        Veggie prices:
        Canned tomatoes @ $.55 / lb  (Aldi price)
        Fresh carrots @        $.60 / lb
        Vidalia onions @       $.47 / lb
        Fresh cabbage @     $.49 / lb
        Average price of $.54 is an average of these.

        Biscuits are made from scratch

        I just watched Lawrence O'Donnel's segment on the Batali project. Batali affirms that it's necessary to shop at several different stores to get the optimum prices.

        In order to subsist on $31 / person / week, you have to be a culinary genius with unlimited kitchen time, not to mention the cost of maintaining the kitchen itself. Running water, electricity, and natural gas are not free. Dishes don't clean themselves.

        Look at my original comment and notice all the ordinary foods that you just cannot afford on food stamps. Even ramen noodles are not a good bargain on a dollar-per-calorie basis.

        And the Republicans want to cut the program back! I guess people on food stamps are living too well.

        Occupy is the symptom. Fundamental reform is the cure.

        by Tim DeLaney on Thu May 17, 2012 at 08:20:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I believe you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tim DeLaney

          but those prices do not exist where I live. Not the milk, not the tomatoes, not the pork, not the onions, not the carrots.

          •  If you cannot find prices anywhere near (0+ / 0-)

            these, and I realize that they are among the lowest in the country, then I don't see any way for you to live on food stamps alone. Maybe Batali can; he's an expert. But consider trying to live on a diet where 98% of supermarket items are off limits because of price.

            Occupy is the symptom. Fundamental reform is the cure.

            by Tim DeLaney on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:31:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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