Tess Healy, Day 7

I was able to buy some nuts (in bulk section) a bag of corn chips on sale, a big thing of yogurt on special and some 50% reduced baked goods – day old. I am aiming for bulk – what fills me up. I am taking a ton of creamers and sugars in the coffee (free) in the places I am going. I want all the things I can’t buy – even things I wouldn’t even want ordinarily but suddenly raspberry ginger cookies sound amazing.

Last day: I have 2 dollars left. I am going to buy a chocolate bar.

Reflections on the week

I am stunned by how quickly and how deeply obsessive I became about food, a hunter gatherer with no skills in an urban landscape with no real sources of sustaining yourself. The capacity to make 21 dollars create nutritious appetizing meals (and there are those who say it “Invest in a slow cooker, even the most cheap cuts of meat will be tender!) calls for planning and cooking skills I don’t have. My envy of those who thoughtlessly order food and leave half of it, my own bad habit of working too hard and too long and then going to a restaurant to eat as a treat a reward for a good day’s work. This feeds a culture that puts food into a rarified category that a whole TV network revolves around, with money for quality ingredients and considerations of how the food looks and that the ingredients are unique and costly. The culture of welfare makes diet a rarified commodity alright. I ate things I should not eat because they were cheap or free, foods that I stay away from because of my chronic diseases. But I ate them and I ate them in quantity because they were cheap and filling. I have a weird rash, I can take my jeans off without unzipping them and I don’t know whether to cry or hit somebody. I don’t know how we can live with not knowing, what it is really like to not have money to not have food and yet live in the midst of plenty.

And we expect people to live like this all the time- not just for one week. I am now convinced that the way welfare rates stand today is a gross injustice, a violation of fundamental rights and an exceptionally fine system of keeping people barely alive but not strong enough to do anything about it. I have yet to stop eating after declaring an end, today to my week and I hope I can regain some equilibrium about food and how it is supposed to be in your life. Not the sole thing you must chase to get enough but the thing that enables you to do and be more. How much human potential do we lose because we starve people every day in this country? There is something so wrong when we can do that AND then blame the people themselves for the conditions we put them in…

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