Apparently, Newark New Jersey's Mayor, Cory Booker, joined a long line of politicians trying to make a statement about welfare and food stamps by living on $33 of food for a week. Although the goal was to convince people that there's no room to cut such social service supports, the result was something else entirely: to demonstrate how little even the influential really understand about food and nutrition.
According to the article, Booker spent his money on: "several cans of beans, a large bottle of olive oil, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and bags of salad".
First off, kudos to him for including veggies on the list and skipping the junk food entirely. That's diametrically opposite what studies show most people on food stamps are buying, but sets a healthy example.
Did you notice anything missing, though? Starch? Protein?
Bagged salad may feel healthy, but it's extremely expensive relative to what you get, and does nothing to keep you feeling full or to trigger the satiation chemicals in your brain. For less than the cost of two bags of salad, Book could have purchased well over 5 lbs of either pasta or rice, and at least a dozen eggs. Either starch would have ensured that he had a full belly all week with plenty left over carry him into the next week. Combined with the eggs and vegetables, they could have provided a variety of satisfying and nutritious meals.
The problem isn't a lack of money - it's a lack of knowledge and ability.
It stretches through every strata of society, and afflicts every corner of our nation. Frankly, it's embarrassing.
We are the descendants of pioneers. We have more tools at our fingertips than they could ever have dreamed of - well stocked public libraries, the internet, local Extension courses, older neighbours. We have let giant conglomerates convince us that we need them. That they make the rules - and the food. He who controls the food, controls the nation.
Don't be controlled or helpless. Use the resources available to you and ignore the politicians and the media as they try to justify their own excess. Learn to cook. Learn to spend your money wisely.
We're only weeks away from a new year. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, the economy is likely to get much grimmer before it gets better. If you don't know much about food, cooking and nutrition, please consider putting it on your list of New Year's resolutions. You'd be amazed how empowering a few simple changes can be. If you don't know already, then for your health, and for your freedom, learn to cook.