Jenna Drabble, Day 2
I have finished the second day of the challenge, and have already experienced, to some degree, many of the things that I anticipated: anxiety, frustration, boredom and social isolation. In a sense this sounds a bit ridiculous given the short amount of time that has passed but it reflects the important role that food has in our lives; its absence is immediately noticeable and affects us in a dramatic way.
Grocery shopping was a stressful experience. Beyond the constant stopping in the store to tally the contents in my basket and the relentless comparing of prices to the cent, I went to three stores in different neighbourhoods, where I knew that I could find the best deals on particular items. I didn’t have a lot of time and I found myself in a bit of a frantic state. Now, this was with the knowledge that I was choosing to participate in a challenge, with the awareness that if I ran into any trouble I had the means to get more food. I can’t even fathom the kind of stress that this experience would cause someone without the luxury to choose to live on a welfare diet; to know that there is nothing to fall back on, that hunger will be inevitable.
My $26 is gone, and I came away with a fair amount of produce (thank you, Sunrise Market), some beans, lentils, eggs, corn tortillas and tea. My meals so far have consisted of a piece of fruit in the morning with an egg and tortilla, lentil soup or beans and rice for lunch/dinner. Regrettably, I forgot about the importance of oil, so I am going without that. I bought some salt, but other than that I don’t have any other kind of seasoning. So, I am feeding myself but it’s not exactly inspired, and I am mostly focused on abating my hunger. When I was at the store I was hoping to keep some of my money for a ‘treat’, but I soon realized that this would be impossible without sacrificing something essential.
I don’t plan to do much this week, since so much of my life is organized around food. I can’t share meals with my roommates, something we often do together, because I have to carefully ration my food to make sure I don’t run out. Quite honestly, they probably wouldn’t be interested in eating the food that I am making anyway because it is so bland. I went for a walk in my neighbourhood today and it was a little bit painful to walk by all of the restaurants that I typically don’t think twice about walking into to grab a meal. This makes me not want to leave the house, really. My current obsession with the items in my pantry only reminds me of how little there is, of what I don’t have, and I think this makes me feel hungrier. I am fixated on food; always planning, making sure that I have something prepared for the next day. Despite being a great bargain, the giant bag of green beans that I bought for a dollar needed to be chopped up and frozen because they were already pretty borderline and definitely wouldn’t make it to the end of the week in the fridge. These kinds of things take time and resources. Resources that I happen to have, but many do not.
Participating in this challenge has provoked a lot of self-reflection as well as interesting dialogue with others, so I am glad to do this. I know that I will come out of the week with a new perspective and this will influence the work that I do. I hope that it will also get us all thinking about where we can go from here, once we have demonstrated that our social safety net is woefully inadequate.