Comments on: Other People’s Challenges http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Mon, 23 Mar 2009 06:12:32 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: Shira http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18421 Shira Fri, 20 Mar 2009 19:30:09 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18421 As was noted above, it's the constraints that get you, not so much the budget- the tiny kitchens, limited storage, lack of equipment, lack of time to get somewhere to buy bulk food and schlep it back by public transportation, sometimes lack of a predictable schedule or stability of residence. All the stories of coping have a momma in them, a momma who is willing to make soup stock, cook a pot of beans while she does the laundry, put on bread to rise while she makes breakfast and bake it when she gets off work at night, keep an eye out for specials on cabbage and plan the menu around it. It's easier in middle class digs, even on the same budget. More kitchen space, more equipment, more storage space. The cyclical nature of my business is such that I plan on gardening, canning and planting a winter garden in the summer, because the winter may be verra thin. This winter exceeded expectations. Business was miserable, the garden froze out in a big winter storm, we lost power and the baggies of green beans melted and got foul in the freezer. The larger items were OK, thankfully, at least nobody's died so far. I think I've spent $200 total on groceries in the last three months. We ate well anyway, what with eating up the frozen stuff and what I had stashed around the place. As for a dinner party out what's on hand, that would be normal. I'm planning on dandelion greens, a giant squash from last year's garden, refrozen chickens, and handmade matzot for Passover. I have some homemade wine left, but I plan to take pity on my guests and buy the wine. Shira in Bellingham, WA As was noted above, it’s the constraints that get you, not so much the budget- the tiny kitchens, limited storage, lack of equipment, lack of time to get somewhere to buy bulk food and schlep it back by public transportation, sometimes lack of a predictable schedule or stability of residence. All the stories of coping have a momma in them, a momma who is willing to make soup stock, cook a pot of beans while she does the laundry, put on bread to rise while she makes breakfast and bake it when she gets off work at night, keep an eye out for specials on cabbage and plan the menu around it.

It’s easier in middle class digs, even on the same budget. More kitchen space, more equipment, more storage space. The cyclical nature of my business is such that I plan on gardening, canning and planting a winter garden in the summer, because the winter may be verra thin. This winter exceeded expectations. Business was miserable, the garden froze out in a big winter storm, we lost power and the baggies of green beans melted and got foul in the freezer. The larger items were OK, thankfully, at least nobody’s died so far. I think I’ve spent $200 total on groceries in the last three months. We ate well anyway, what with eating up the frozen stuff and what I had stashed around the place.

As for a dinner party out what’s on hand, that would be normal. I’m planning on dandelion greens, a giant squash from last year’s garden, refrozen chickens, and handmade matzot for Passover. I have some homemade wine left, but I plan to take pity on my guests and buy the wine.

Shira in Bellingham, WA

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By: Jyotsna http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18405 Jyotsna Fri, 20 Mar 2009 02:22:05 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18405 Anyone can live on a "food stamp budget", but it takes a food stamp recipient to really say that. IMHO. BTW, I post newbie food storage info on my blog, tho it isn't on the scale of Crunchy Chickens blog! : ) FYI! Anyone can live on a “food stamp budget”, but it takes a food stamp recipient to really say that. IMHO.

BTW, I post newbie food storage info on my blog, tho it isn’t on the scale of Crunchy Chickens blog! : )

FYI!

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By: Lisa http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18400 Lisa Thu, 19 Mar 2009 22:54:03 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18400 I do miss the Friday food storage Quickies. Those helped keep me focused. Plus had a conversation with a friend, who is concerned her husband's hours are about to be cut back. Lisa I do miss the Friday food storage Quickies. Those helped keep me focused.
Plus had a conversation with a friend, who is concerned her husband’s hours are about to be cut back.

Lisa

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By: Crunchy Chicken http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18378 Crunchy Chicken Thu, 19 Mar 2009 19:23:40 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18378 I've done a lot of challenges that can be considered nauseating, but I didn't think this was one of them :) Siobhan, the intent of this challenge was to show people that it may be more difficult to achieve eating sustainably on the federally stated allotments, but that it was doable for most of us. Clearly there are some serious issues at hand when one is talking about the poor, resources being a big one, as you mentioned, but the biggest and hardest one to get over is the problem of accessibility. Sustainably grown foods just aren't generally available in areas (particularly inner-cities) where the poor are doing their shopping. Food prices in those areas tend to be higher as well for a number of different reasons. The book _Closing the Food Gap_ that Sharon mentions goes into to this far better than I am in this comment. Either way, I wanted to state that the challenge isn't to marginalize the poor even more than they already are, but to counter the argument that eating sustainably is unaffordable to most. The Food Stamp allotments are only being used as a guideline instead of me arbitrarily picking numbers. I’ve done a lot of challenges that can be considered nauseating, but I didn’t think this was one of them :)

Siobhan, the intent of this challenge was to show people that it may be more difficult to achieve eating sustainably on the federally stated allotments, but that it was doable for most of us.

Clearly there are some serious issues at hand when one is talking about the poor, resources being a big one, as you mentioned, but the biggest and hardest one to get over is the problem of accessibility. Sustainably grown foods just aren’t generally available in areas (particularly inner-cities) where the poor are doing their shopping. Food prices in those areas tend to be higher as well for a number of different reasons.

The book _Closing the Food Gap_ that Sharon mentions goes into to this far better than I am in this comment. Either way, I wanted to state that the challenge isn’t to marginalize the poor even more than they already are, but to counter the argument that eating sustainably is unaffordable to most. The Food Stamp allotments are only being used as a guideline instead of me arbitrarily picking numbers.

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By: Susan http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18374 Susan Thu, 19 Mar 2009 17:44:44 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18374 Ya know, I've been on food stamps myself. And I know it is possible to feed three growing boys plus myself quite well, if monotonously, on what they give you. You just eat more beans and rice. And there's no reason a pot of beans can't be simmering on the counter in a crockpot all the time. Or a pot roast. And cornbread is quick to make when you get home. No, working and going to school and all that other stuff is really no excuse. It can be done. I know, I've done it. I'm no longer on food stamps, but we still eat as though we were; I cook extra on my days off so we have stuff to take to work, we do a lot of crockpot cooking, and we eat little meat. Regarding vegetables, eating seasonally is really the key to low cost fresh veggies. Like now for instance, cabbage is 39 cents a pound at my supermarket. I can get two or three meals out of one head, and the leftovers go to my chickens. Like I said, a little monotonous, but cheap, nutritious, and yummy with the right spices. Ya know, I’ve been on food stamps myself. And I know it is possible to feed three growing boys plus myself quite well, if monotonously, on what they give you. You just eat more beans and rice.

And there’s no reason a pot of beans can’t be simmering on the counter in a crockpot all the time. Or a pot roast. And cornbread is quick to make when you get home.

No, working and going to school and all that other stuff is really no excuse. It can be done. I know, I’ve done it.

I’m no longer on food stamps, but we still eat as though we were; I cook extra on my days off so we have stuff to take to work, we do a lot of crockpot cooking, and we eat little meat.

Regarding vegetables, eating seasonally is really the key to low cost fresh veggies. Like now for instance, cabbage is 39 cents a pound at my supermarket. I can get two or three meals out of one head, and the leftovers go to my chickens. Like I said, a little monotonous, but cheap, nutritious, and yummy with the right spices.

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By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18366 Sharon Thu, 19 Mar 2009 16:12:01 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18366 Siobhan - Well, low income people obviously do have limits on what they can do. I've written abou this a number of times - in many cases, the kids are the ones cooking, since both parents work and they can't do much more than open cans. In other cases there are now cooking facilities at all. On the other hand, some very poor people do have time - they may be disabled or retired. Some people consider food a priority and even though they are low income nad recieving food stamps, they do this. I think the value of Crunchy's challenge is this - that it does help peopel understand the realities of doing this, and gets more and more people doing it in different regions and areas iwth different realities. Every time this subject comes up, one gets low income people who are angry thatw'd assume that low income people can do this, and low income people who would be angry at assuming that they can't, and recount their own experience as single parents making sure their kids eat well, or as disabled people doing this. Speaking also as someone who works full time as a writer (and the last two years this has meant long, long hours - 3 books in 2 years), with a husband who works full time as a faculty member, while running a farm, homeschooling and preparing, we also spend substantially less than the food stamp budget for a family of six, and cook just about every meal from scratch, simply because there is no takeout where we are, and it is a long drive to the nearest restaurant. We do occasionally eat out, particularly when we have guests. But generally speaking, from a purely time perspective, I'd be reluctant to say that no working families can do this, because we do it. I don't deny that the working poor have special challenges (our household income here would qualify us for food stamps in New York at present, although not the maximum of course, and the first two years we lived here our family then of four lived on less than 20K. Before that, Eric and I lived in one of the most expensive housing markets in the US on a combined salary of less than that. And always, I've managed to buy and cook good food. I know too many other people in that situation who do the same to doubt that it is possible for some. Sharon Siobhan - Well, low income people obviously do have limits on what they can do. I’ve written abou this a number of times - in many cases, the kids are the ones cooking, since both parents work and they can’t do much more than open cans. In other cases there are now cooking facilities at all. On the other hand, some very poor people do have time - they may be disabled or retired. Some people consider food a priority and even though they are low income nad recieving food stamps, they do this. I think the value of Crunchy’s challenge is this - that it does help peopel understand the realities of doing this, and gets more and more people doing it in different regions and areas iwth different realities.

Every time this subject comes up, one gets low income people who are angry thatw’d assume that low income people can do this, and low income people who would be angry at assuming that they can’t, and recount their own experience as single parents making sure their kids eat well, or as disabled people doing this.

Speaking also as someone who works full time as a writer (and the last two years this has meant long, long hours - 3 books in 2 years), with a husband who works full time as a faculty member, while running a farm, homeschooling and preparing, we also spend substantially less than the food stamp budget for a family of six, and cook just about every meal from scratch, simply because there is no takeout where we are, and it is a long drive to the nearest restaurant. We do occasionally eat out, particularly when we have guests. But generally speaking, from a purely time perspective, I’d be reluctant to say that no working families can do this, because we do it. I don’t deny that the working poor have special challenges (our household income here would qualify us for food stamps in New York at present, although not the maximum of course, and the first two years we lived here our family then of four lived on less than 20K. Before that, Eric and I lived in one of the most expensive housing markets in the US on a combined salary of less than that. And always, I’ve managed to buy and cook good food. I know too many other people in that situation who do the same to doubt that it is possible for some.

Sharon

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By: siobhan http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18362 siobhan Thu, 19 Mar 2009 14:08:42 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18362 This crunchy chicken thing is a little nauseating. Having been on Food Stamps my experience tells me that a good diet is possible on this budget. But it requires almost full time cooking plus storage of bulk items and whatever got made out of them. Lots of "poor people" don't have the skills to cook from scratch. Also many low income housing units have extremely limited counter space. Again from experience, it can be a challenge to even make toast on four square feet of counter space. Then there's the gas or electric bill that comes after you've baked bread, made soup, etc. And if there's limited storage, then what? For "workers" on Food Stamps it's close to impossible to do this what with public transport, dropping off kids at school, and the work day eating up most of your time. You'd pop in frozen dinners too, I'll betcha. Or maybe you'd spend both days off shopping cooking and doing laundry... This crunchy chicken thing is a little nauseating. Having been on Food Stamps my experience tells me that a good diet is possible on this budget. But it requires almost full time cooking plus storage of bulk items and whatever got made out of them. Lots of “poor people” don’t have the skills to cook from scratch. Also many low income housing units have extremely limited counter space. Again from experience, it can be a challenge to even make toast on four square feet of counter space. Then there’s the gas or electric bill that comes after you’ve baked bread, made soup, etc. And if there’s limited storage, then what?

For “workers” on Food Stamps it’s close to impossible to do this what with public transport, dropping off kids at school, and the work day eating up most of your time. You’d pop in frozen dinners too, I’ll betcha. Or maybe you’d spend both days off shopping cooking and doing laundry…

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By: e4 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18360 e4 Thu, 19 Mar 2009 13:18:22 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18360 Thanks for the mention on the garden challenge too! Thanks for the mention on the garden challenge too!

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By: ctdaffodil http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18358 ctdaffodil Thu, 19 Mar 2009 11:12:32 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18358 Sharon - in my book if you take a challenge and make a change you are a winner - regardless of if you can find the time to post your progress. You know what you do.... Sharon - in my book if you take a challenge and make a change you are a winner - regardless of if you can find the time to post your progress. You know what you do….

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By: Hummingbird http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18356 Hummingbird Thu, 19 Mar 2009 09:28:23 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/18/other-peoples-challenges/#comment-18356 You are only doing a thousand things, Sharon, so I had given up on any continuation of the PA book club, but you have given me hope. I hope you get to it after doing the thousand other things of course. The "party from your storage" thing sounds like a great idea. You are only doing a thousand things, Sharon, so I had given up on any continuation of the PA book club, but you have given me hope. I hope you get to it after doing the thousand other
things of course.

The “party from your storage” thing sounds like a great idea.

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