Report From Day 3: #Belowtheline

DSCN5371Three days below the line and you get into the swing of things. You accept that for breakfast you will eat boring oatmeal, but take it with a sense of humbleness knowing that a full stomach is better than an empty one.

Throughout the day you work, try to focus on things other than food…and in truth, everyday you get better at it. On the other hand it is sad that you can no longer look forward to lunch or dinner, plan the delicious dishes you could have made, or go into the supermarket and walk the aisles in search of something new and enticing to buy.

So instead you try to be flexible and work within your budget, such as find a 25 cent treasure at the corner store – a frozen chocolate banana. It is sweet, cold and healthy. But best of all, it is cheap and affordable! There are not many things in life that are cheap and healthy, in fact, finding such things can be quite difficult.

Then it is lunchtime, and you have some pasta left from yesterday, so you use it. What do you make? The same dish as yesterday, because tomatoes and onion are the cheapest in the market. After the dish is made you question whether you take another picture of the same dish or if people would get bored with the hackneyed recipes your budget allows for. Then a thought pops up into your head: who are the people that always take pictures of food they are about to eat or just finished cooking…. it’s probably not someone poor and food insecure. Interesting thought, no?

By dinnertime you decide to take on a challenge, break out of the mundane food you’ve been eating and stretch your imagination to make something new on less than 60 cents. You go back to the same market and look at all the vegetables available to you and get your hands on cassava – a vegetable in the potato family, but with less starch and much smoother taste. Of course, onions and tomatoes have become essentials for every dish you make so you grab those too.

In the night you eat a rich dish of cassava and declare victory over bland food! The colors, the textures and the soft grilled onion are a success. You forget that you’re eating on a budget and bring your attention to the beautiful food on your plate. When it’s all done you decide that a nice dessert would be perfect, but remember that you still have 2 more days of living below the line… and below the line variety and food luxuries are not available. Very unfair, isn’t it?

Living below the line you get a taste of reality and truly begin to experience that there in fact is a difference between the rich and the poor. But while it is normal to have such a difference, it shouldn’t be so grave when it comes to food. This activity makes you see that it is time to erase this line, because we don’t need two food systems, one for the wealthy and one for the poor. We need one system that can provide good, nutritious and delicious food to everyone, because food and water are a human right!

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