I've come up with an idea for a project on this blog. It's a "challenge", similar to the ones I've done before.
For the month of October, Jeremy and I are going to eat on what would be the amount of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as "food stamps") benefits for two adults.
I get so tired of hearing that eating sustainably/healthy/locally/all the above is too expensive for lower and middle income families. Or that the food revolution is elitist. It's just not, from my perspective. As a matter of fact, I've spent less at the grocery store on average monthly than I did two years ago before I really started eating conscientiously.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again. It's not more expensive to eat sustainably/locally/healthier, but it does take more time and planning.
Last month, I read something that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
WebMD reported a recent study that in order to meet the new recommendations of the new Myplate.gov, Americans would have to pony up 10% more of their food budget. Here's the link: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20110804/study-healthy-eating-costs-more.
If you read the story closely, those who "spent the least on food, and average of $6.77 a day, were also the furthest from the goverment's daily guidelines of 3.500 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of daily fiber, 10 micrograms of vitamin D, and 1,000 milligrams of calcium. On average, they were getting around 2.391 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of fiber, 5 micrograms of vitamin D, and 854 milligrams of calcium."
Now, call me crazy, but I think those numbers aren't too shabby, if we're looking at the big picture. While it would be great if people were getting more fiber, arguably the immediate goal of the Myplate.gov was awareness. This is how much and what you SHOULD be eating at every meal. I think it was universally agreed upon that the former USDA dietary guidelines were hopelessly confusing.
A Bing search for words similar to those in the title of the study reveals at least a half a dozen more similar stories.
In case you're wondering, for a household of two adults, SNAP benefits would total $367 per month. When I told Jeremy this, his response was "Jesus! We'll eat like kings next month!" That pretty much sums it up. My average grocery haul for the month (including farmers market) averages around $300 to $325.
So, I'm going on about my business as usual. And I'm going to eat healthy and write about it. And about how much it costs and things like that. For your reading pleasure.
There are a few kinks I am trying to iron out as of yet. For instance, do I include things I have in my pantry/freezer in the budget, and how do I assign them a value? Especially if they were free, i.e. from my personal vegetable garden or if its deer meat Jeremy killed last winter? And, I need a catchy title for the challenge. Any ideas? I'm not really sure about all that yet, but the clock starts on Oct. 1st. Stay tuned.