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Comment Re:I don't see this happening in the US. (Score 1) 705

I guess then question becomes...can a family who does not have such skills and such access afford to live healthily on less than five dollars a day per person?

I think the first question you have to answer is if an average American family will eat healthily on any amount of money. Despite widespread belief, junk food is not cheap. See this NYTimes article:

(And I think the prices they give for the homecooked meal are significantly higher than I would pay.)

I suspect most American families would eat crap no matter how much money you gave them, because that is what our food culture has become. We gave it all over to the food processing companies. It seems like homecooking has really been looked down on in this country over the last 30 years or so. But if you want to eat healthily, you still have to cook.

I think we can also agree that such skill should be taught, one way or another - perhaps in school though I could perceive some pushback for 'the American way' (or whatever else those who breed and sell beef would come up with to fight such education). Access to healthy food at reasonable prices is, perhaps, more difficult to achieve in some areas but is probably doable across much of the country.

Grocery Outlet produces a pamphlet on feeding your family on $3 a day: The food doesn't sound terribly appealing to me, but I'm sure it's much better than many families are eating. Maybe such things should come with the food stamps check. Maybe such things do.

There are a lot of Home Economics skills that really should be taught to everyone. Everyone should learn the basics of financial management, cooking, and house keeping. None of these issues are that hard, for example, most of the things my wife makes are not complex. But if all the food you've ever eaten comes out of a cardboard box, how can you learn how to cook?

I have no idea what to do on the political end. It really annoys me that my daughter brings home all these preachy pamphlets about healthy eating from school, but what's on the school lunch menu? Beef Nachos and pepperoni pizza. Is that some kind of joke? But, of course, the food processing companies can write whatever they want into the laws, no matter who you elect.

Comment Re:I don't see this happening in the US. (Score 1) 705

Sure. I live in the East Bay Area of California. There are a few points that make my family a little odd. My wife is Asian, and knows how to make a lot of things from scratch. We don't eat much junk food, our deserts and snacks are largely fresh fruit. We eat unbelievable amounts of fruit. We don't eat very much meat for Americans, maybe 3oz per person per day average? Eggs, milk, and beans make up the rest of the protein. We also only eat out 1-2 times per month, that includes home delivery. We eat a lot of easy whole grains, like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread.

In the summer I get most of my fruits at the farmers market, and I get some vegetables from my garden plot (community garden). (The soil here sucks, and we don't put a lot of work in, so my garden is not terribly productive.) The rest is purchased from Trader Joes or Sprouts, both of which have fresher produce and better prices than, say, Safeway. This is where the Bay Area is better than a lot of the US, fresh produce is very cheap and easy to get here. I have some trouble giving you prices for vegetables as my wife does most of the shopping, but we usually don't pay over $1.50/lb for tree fruit, $2 for a cantaloupe, or $.25/lb for watermelon. We buy a lot of whatever is cheap and in season.

Staple foods we buy in bulk from Costco or the Asian Market. Rice, beans, flour, and oats all are bought in 20-50lb bags. We generally buy about a years worth at a time. Those prices seem to be about the same anywhere.

Meat is also bought at Costco then frozen. We get a few other large bulk items at Costco. We go there about once every 2 months or so.

Other misc non-perishables mostly come from the Grocery Outlet, a weird discount grocery store chain in the west. They are pretty good if you aren't looking for a specific item.

Milk and Eggs may come from any of those places, or the drug store near our house. It's usually about $3 for a gallon of milk, or a dozen eggs.

That seems like a lot of shopping, but we usually only end up going once a week on average, including the Farmers market trip.

Just as an example, yesterday I ate: Breakfast, Oatmeal, milk. Morning snack: Cantaloupe. Lunch: Leftover spaghetti and chopped veggies, daal, and rice. Afternoon snack: Plums and peaches. Dinner: Veggie Chicken Stir Fry with rice.

Comment Re:I don't see this happening in the US. (Score 1) 705

"...the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed last winter, raised the average monthly food stamp benefit per person by about 17 percent, to $133."

Calculate that out, it comes to 4.43 USD per day, per person, for food. Can you live healthily on that? No, I didn't think so.

If you and your family haven't been on food stamps then you don't know what you're talking about. You should hope that you never end up living that firsthand because you'd find out real fast that most people on food stamps (like my parents when I was a child) spend it on food and not a single fucking other thing.

Heck yes I can eat healthily on $4.43 a day. I feed my family of 5 a very healthy diet, heavy in expensive fresh fruits and vegetables for $350 a month. Assuming no adjustments for age etc. food stamps would nearly double my food budget. Now, admittedly we regularly eat fairly labor intensive food, dried beans, etc. People who have to work a lot may not have as much time to make things fancy, but man, staple foods are really, really, cheap in the US.

I admit, I have not, so far, had to live on food stamps. I am friends with a similar family who has though, and his wife was amazed at the luxury they could afford on food stamps. "We're eating all kinds of fancy foods we never could have afforded when we were working!"

I suspect the biggest issue with running out of money on food stamps is ignorance on how to cook and how to stretch a dollar. These are both concepts that have been lost in American culture, and they sure aren't being taught in school.

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