Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 17, Sunday: Excerpts from the diary of a sample-phile

Ron and Jen crashed at our house last night. This is good, since letting either one of them behind the wheel would have been about as safe as taking a preschool class on a field trip to Jurassic Park, after all the dinosaurs got loose.

Noontime, Adam and I drop them off at Jessica’s, where they’ve left their ridiculous behemoth of a vehicle.

Well, I’m already out, and I haven’t yet eaten. And since Jeannie has previously suggested to me that Sunday, right after the Methodists get out of church, is primo sample time, I’m totally “why not stop at Whole foods?” Adam, not hung-over enough to be granted a sympathy pass, but too ill to protest, agrees to accompany me.

This week’s cornucopia of swank snack swag is distinctly less cornucopious than last week, but I am definitely not disappointed. Whole Foods does me right with orange slices, four cherries, double helpings of tuna salad, and triple on the salmon salad, possibly the worst cheddar cheese I’ve ever had (which is still pretty good since I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like), chicken salad, curried chicken salad, and some sort of sandwich wrap.

Despite the fact that I found this picture of a pimp-hat adorned Andre 3000 (who I’m pretty sure only goes to Whole Foods for sans purchase sampling, and looks super-cool while doing it) in a Whole Foods ad,
uppity Adam abstains from sampling, because I guess he feels guilty or something.

My ever-observant husband asserts that he can tell which people are really here to purchase food, and which are my sample stealing comrades. I contend that he can only spot some of us, those with a no-nonsense, honest approach to gratis grazing. I prefer the stealth-ier method, which basically entails stopping between servings to look at and compare nutrition labels. Those of us in the know would never, ever pretend to compare prices, however. Doing so is like broadcasting your fake-shopper status, since no one who actually shops there has even once, in the entire history of Whole Foods, ever looked what the stuff costs, because if they did, the part of their brain that does math would explode, thereby completely negating the positive benefits of buying organic. So I’m pretty sure I’m snacking under the radar. I could be wrong, and everyone knows I’m on a sample safari, but I don’t really give a crap. It might even be fun to get caught. I would never go down without a fight. Mmmmmm. Thanks Whole Foods.

Later in the afternoon I am overcome with the immediate need to rent a movie, a desire which is, more likely than not, influenced by Blockbuster’s close proximity to Publix. Searching for an actual reason to enter Publix (the lack of which would certainly not have prevented my visit,) I decide I desperately require tampons, of which you can never have too many.

As expected, Publix’s fare pales in comparison to Whole Foods’ smorgusboard o’ free stuff, but the fresh(ish) baked wheat bread, chicken with vegetables, and garlic bread is not unappreciated.

After leaving Blockbuster with the second Narnia movie (which was just all right for me,) I have one final stop to make. Adam has requested that I get him an Angry Whopper (which was way better than all right for him.) These next ten minutes prove to be a critical test for me. I pass, proving I am a indomitable machine, unmoved even by the monarch of flame-broiled beef patties. I am god-like. I accomplish what was formerly believed impossible. In the two miles between Burger King and home, I manage to refrain from eating a single fry or taking even the teeniest, most dainty sip of Diet Coke. I am an awe-inspiring icon, to be emulated by food addicts worldwide.

I make a giant pot of red beans and rice, and eat some for dinner. They’re good, but I sure would like a snarfle of that Angry Whopper.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 16, Saturday: Let’s get Coco-Nutty

For breakfast I eat a falafel patty, and at lunch I finish off the rest of yesterday’s lentils and spinach.

Tonight is Jessica and Ron’s birthday. The plan is predrinks at Jessica’s apartment, then to our house, and off to the bars on Crescent. Early on, I realize my newfound purpose for the evening. Answering a higher calling I’ve rarely felt, I assume the roll usually reserved for those less fond of the drank then myself. Tonight I’ll be the Designated Driver.

Adam, in his wisdom, suggests that I might feel more involved in the party if I get a fun cup (i.e. a light-up pink martini glass, or plastic sequined beer mug.) I am painfully aware that a fun cup filled with water is a poor substitute for any cup filled with alcohol, but immediately agree to his suggestion, because (1) the need for a fun cup creates the perfect excuse to shop Richard’s Variety Mart (RVM), and (2) RVM is right next door to Trader Joe’s, which has never failed me in the free sample department.

RVM, although lacking in the free sample arena, makes up for this fact in every other way. If you are ever in need of a birthday gift for anyone, no matter what their interests, head straight for RVM. You will undoubtedly find what you had no idea you were looking for, and the happy recipient of the glow-in-the-dark Fidel Castro Magnets, Weiner Dog cigarette holder, or Grow-Your-Own-Dominatrix is bound to thank you. She probably doesn’t own one already, and you’ll look awesome next to the unimaginative fools who bought her Chicken Soup for the Gardeners Soul, a scented candle, or a picture frame.

Of course, RVM fails me not, and I leave the store with a plastic cup molded to exactly replicate a real coconut. Only this cup is better than a real coconut, not just because it is dishwasher safe, but because, printed in playfully rustic dandilion gold lettering, as if in after-thought, it mischievously calls upon, not just the lucky owner (me, thank god!), but all those fortunate enough to come in contact with coconut-shaped-cup, to cut loose and forget about our financial troubles, if only for the night. The cup’s mantra “Let’s Get Coco-Nutty,” is one we might all benefit from listening to and living by.
Coconut-shaped-cup and I step into Trader Joe’s, where I am treated to chocolate covered gingersnaps. They are crazy good, if you like ginger. They might be good even if you don’t like ginger, but I’d be a bad judge of that. Score and score!

Seven-ish we arrive at Jessica’s apartment. Jessica, who is clearly out to get me, keeps her thermostat at, from what my inner thermometer reading tells me, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold alone, I can handle, but when paired with the miniature crock-pot of cheese dip Jessica has “graciously” laid out, an almost devastating combination threatens to ruin my 30/30. Unable to maintain my core temperature, I am forced to warm my hands by the heat of the crock pot, enduring the alluring aroma of wonderfully, deliciously, creamy, melty cheese dip and the contented sighs of others enjoying aforementioned dairy delights. As more guests arrive it becomes apparent that the plot to bring me down extends beyond just Jessica, as each new arrival declares that the “temperature is just fine.” Taking a cruel joke and running with it, Jessica’s brother Robbie reaches over my shoulder, scooping an excessive amount of dip onto his chip, dripping the creamy white substance down my leg.

Despite the Cold Apartment/Hot Cheese conspiracy, and with the help of coconut-shaped-cup's continuous reminder to "Get Coco-nutty," I manage to have an okay, if sober time.

Overcome with remorse for his part in the plot, "a friend" extends the olive branch, offering to smoke with me before we go to the bar. I normally don’t smoke the reefer, but I normally don’t stay sober around wasted people either. Sobriety among the extremely inebriated can be an agonizing experience. After very briefly considering the question of whether weed was food, which it is clearly not, I take him up on the offer.

I drive the group to our house, which is conveniently located within walking distance of the best midtown bars, and blaze up before stepping out into the frigid night. Taking care to smoke enough to make everything happy and hazy, but not so much that I become a nonfunctioning paranoid schitzo, is an art I was afraid I had forgotten. But like riding a bicycle, reaching the perfect balance was a skill not lost despite my letting it fall to disuse.

Thank the lord baby jesus above for pot, because my sober self would never have made it to the bar, sensitive as I am to the cold. And had I made it to the bar, I surely would not have lasted through the Jaeger-bomb induced obnoxiousness of my friends.

I am accustomed to being just as deeply entrenched in the throws of stupid drunk fun and craziness. But, as everyone knows, this form of fun is entertaining ONLY to those who are actually intoxicated, leaving any sober attendees with the desire to jab out their own eyeballs. Tonight surely would have been the death of me, had I been forced to confront the situation as a tee-totaling non-participant.

However, as a pleasantly stoned observer, I have reached two conclusions, (1) No, you do not want another Kamikaze. You just had one, right before you fell on your ass, which is why your Jack and Coke is spilled all down the front of your shirt, and (2) everything really is better on weed. (except of course driving, which is a given)

Not fueled, as the others are, by a Redbull and alcohol-induced desire to remain awake into the wee hours, discussing things that no one will remember in the morning anyhow, I eat a falafel patty upon our return home and fall into a blissful cannabis coma. Coco-nutty indeed.

Day 15, Friday: Tell us what you've learned from this experience

Breakfast consists of a falafel patty and a hunk of “chocolate.” There is only one piece of chocolate left, and the immediate need for strict rationing is obvious. Around lunch, I polish off the last piece, eliminating the burden of such extreme measures. Unfortunately, I have also eliminated candy from the next fifteen days of my life.

I make a small pot of lentils and spinach, and eat them for lunch and dinner.

Today is a pretty big day! I’ve managed to go 15 days without breaking down! But what does all this mean? I went into this thinking it would be some big life changing experience, really giving me a glimpse into what life was like for the less fortunate. So here I am, half way, and at what appears a good time to step back and examine what I have learned thus far. How has all this affected* me?

In their blog, the original 30/30 couple describes their experience as “transformative.” In the interest of time, it would be nice to cut and paste their feelings and adopt them as my own, changing a word here and there, not dissimilar to my freshman year research paper on Canterbury Tales. Unfortunately, I can’t do this for two reasons. (1) they don’t really elaborate, so there aren’t enough words to transpose and call my own, and (2) I think their heads are up their never tested on animals, steroid and pesticide free asses, and I won’t pretend to have such a sudden, exaggerated insight into the psyche of the poor.

Their easy use of the word “transformative” is both surprising and sadly comedic to me. Basically, I'm supposed to buy the idea that going on a diet has somehow opened a door of enlightenment for these people, granting them access to some deep insight into the lives of the poor? Um, no.

If they really want to understand, maybe they could have three kids and each work two minimum wage jobs to pay for their food, clothing, and a run-down two-bedroom apartment in the ghetto. Then, for the full effect, struggle to stay awake during the 45 minutes a day they’ll get with their children, trying to catch them up on the education that they’re barely receiving at Inner-City Central High. Oh, and don’t forget to worry about the fact that, even if Jr. manages to get into college, unlike you, who had to drop out in 11th grade because Medicaid didn’t cover in-home care for your father, there won’t be any money to pay for school.

Granted, the above scenario might be difficult to recreate, so I’ve thought of a few, simpler techniques. Don't paying any utility bills, and see how many days you can live without power and water (in colder climates, insight points are given for time endured without heat.) If really dedicated, quit your job. Try to stay cheerful at your new job waiting tables at Denny’s, and don’t fall asleep during your graveyard shift at Ingles, despite the excruciating boredom of stocking shelf after shelf of nonperishables, especially on three-and-a-half hours of sleep. If possible, get really sick and become unable to work, much less pay your medical bills.

I know this sounds particularly harsh, but as I think it’s safe to assume they’ll never read my blog, I don’t feel any moral responsibility to spare their feelings. I’ll lay it on you straight: Those guys were spoiled P-words. Oh, I’m so sorry for you that you had to give up organic produce! Even before starting the 30/30, I view any fresh produce as a luxury. It’s seriously not that bad, people! Sure, the first couple of days were a hurdle, but that’s because I’m so used to over-eating. After fighting through the first few days of hunger, it didn’t suck too big. I’m getting all the nutrition and calories I need, and I’ll definitely have food left in the end.

At this point, I haven’t noticed any of the physical or emotional changes they spoke of in their blog. I can't see any strains on my relationship with Adam. I imagine, however, that the diet might serve as a convenient excuse for those inclined to argue under better circumstances.

So what is my half way point analysis? I guess, if anything, the experience was transformative in that I realized I eat like a cow, and pretty much all my social relationships are built around food and drink. I know I sound like a bitch, and I’m sorry. I’m honestly glad for the attention they’ve brought to the cause, and I’m happy people want to take their social justice classes and learn about what goes on in the world beyond our middle class bubble. But I don’t feel the experiment makes any revolutionary or groundbreaking point. We already knew being poor sucks.

But then, perhaps my thinking is flawed and my criticisms are indicative of a malnourished brain. Maybe the transformative revelations come later in the month.

*I am unapologetic for the fact that I often use affect when I mean effect. I have given up trying to distinguish between the two, since it takes more work for me to figure out which is proper in a given situation, than it does for the listener to figure out what I mean.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 13, Wednesday: Thanks a lot, Biotch

This post has been deleted, because unlike the person it was directed towards, I have a conscience.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 12, Tuesday: The Recession isn’t just another mediocre Young Jeezy album

I’ll be the first to admit that the peas and spinach were garbage when I made them, and a week of stewing in their own blandness hasn’t improved the initial product. In fact, they’ve somehow managed to amplify their tedium, creating a cruel anti-taste vortex for your taste buds to ignore. While only slightly more refreshing than a handful of sand thrown in the face, the mush is at least filling, dutifully fulfilling food’s most basic purpose like a retarded but obedient servant. I want to throw it away, sooooooo badly. Zero waste, I tell myself. I summon up my inner Jedi and work towards choking down the last of the batch.

The offending shades of olive swirl lethargically, mixing unapologetically with the hunter green spinach to form a tasteless camo-gruel. I imagine if pea & spinach mush was ever lost in the jungle, it would be well hidden from his enemies, but would probably bore itself to death.

I am captivated by the fierce ongoing competition between Pea Mush Flavor and Pea Mush Appearance, both of which seem to be vying intensely for the title of Grand Chancellor of Bland, while at the same time coexisting in a perfect state of semi-viscous/mildly gelatinous harmony. The dreariness of my breakfast is only magnified by the drone of the news commentary spilling out of the living room television. All this talk these days about Dow Jones being down, lay-offs and recession is such a drag.

I am particularly concerned about the havoc this mess is wreaking on the hip-hop community. When Young Jeezy starts spouting lines like ''it's the recession, everybody broke,'' we ALL have cause to worry. I don’t know about you, but unless he’s under indictment for murder or running a dog fighting ring, I NEVER want to hear a rapper admit to even the slightest strain on his finances. I think it’s safe to say that if T.I. isn’t buying more diamonds, I’m not eating.

What the hell Jeezy, do you realize the chaos you are about to unleash on us? The American people have placed their trust in you, and you go around talking like that? How are we supposed to dance suggestively to a rap about the economy? I’m not saying you’re not qualified to comment on the matter. Hell, the mere fact that you have seen more than one $100 bill at the same time probably makes you more qualified than me. I’m just saying that you, of all people, shouldn’t go around scaring us with this intimidating talk about fiscal insecurity.

Jeezy, I hope you don't find this condescending, but its clear you’ve forgotten what it is that we, the American people, called on you for. You have three responsibilities in this world, and you're messing it up for the rest of us. All we ask is that you (1) keep buying more cars, trucks, villas, bling, fur coats, etc., thereby infusing the economy with much needed capital, (2) keep cranking out hit after mediocre hit with irresistibly catchy hooks, leading us like grown and sexy lambs to the booty club, thereby infusing the economy with much needed capital, and (3) keep being cool as fuck, inducing every last one of us to slave all week at Kinko’s or North Cobb Middle School, or Burger King, cranking out two-sided copies, detention slips and Angry Whoppers like you put out #1 hits, in a wasted endeavor to keep up with the Diddy’s, thereby infusing the economy with much needed capital.

So go ahead and do it. We know you’re coming out with a new clothing line next week, rendering the hat I drove all the way out to the Mall of Georgia last weekend on my only day off to get, an obsolete fashion dinosaur. That’s okay, I’ll go back. I heard they’re playing Planet Earth on the Imax screen there, and that sounds cool.

See, Jeezy! See how I’ve already forgotten how dull and meaningless my lower middle class life is? Sex, color, creed, race, national origin, or sexual orientation matters not when we come together in celebration of your works, writhing ecstatically on the dance floor with other drunken sweaty strangers, safe in the knowledge that next week will bring us a brand new jam. YOU, Jeezy are the unifying force. So remember, stick to the three rules, and rap about things that make us happy, like bitches, bling, slinging and sex. Under no conditions should you ever again rap about anything political.* The power is yours. Use it wisely.

Oh, if the mood or the beat catches you and you find yourself waxing poetic in some public place,(which I seriously doubt you're capable of) stick with the happy topics, and for God's sake keep your fear-mongering politikey shit at home. You’re scaring the children. You’re scaring me. I barely got down my black beans and rice at lunch.

Dinner of black beans and rice with Cajun seasoning. I am saddened to find that it is still nastay!
*The exception, as always, is that any derogatory statements pertaining to W or McCain are encouraged, constructive or otherwise.

Day 11, Monday: What He giveth, He just may taketh away

Once again I’ve slept in and missed breakfast. I drag my late, but slightly smaller, ass into work and realize that I’ve forgotten to bring a lunch. As I am neither a planner, nor a cook, my food regimen usually consists of anywhere from zero to seven square (possibly isosceles, often tater-tot* shaped) meals, couched between various snacks, many Diet Cokes, and whatever scraps I manage to snarfle off your plate before it gets to you. If one had the learning of a fancy psychology degree (which may also be useful in bartending) she might diagnose me with two or even three eating disorders. But Anorexia would totally not be one of them, and I am NOT about to go until after 6:00 without eating.

Upon request, my lovely husband is kind enough to pop in and bring me some black beans & rice, two cabbage leaves, & two blackberries.

Until now, I’ve pretty much kept my diet on the down-low around the Nail’s customers (Hereinafter referred to as “Clients,” so as not to waste my education.) I’m not ashamed, I just suspect they won’t understand. These suspicions are soon confirmed when, after explaining the basic premise of the 30/30 experiment, I am met with a universal “Why the hell would you want to do that?” A fair question, but I realize the answer is more easily articulated to, and understood by, a different crowd. (i.e. hippies) To the urban (semi) haute bourgeois that frequent my place of employment, the concept of voluntary self-denial is categorized not only as foreign, but as Anti-American heresy. †

I’ll take this opportunity to illustrate a very important fact, since I’m unsure of the extent to which I’ve described the Rusty Nail to the reader. With the exception of my own political leanings, the only thing at the Nail that could be accurately described as “liberal,” would be Big Daddy’s‡ enthusiastic use of salt and lard in the giant vats of collard greens, black eyed peas, and mac-n-cheese. Despite the Nail’s dive bar status, most of the clientele (I mean Clients) is made up of the fairly affluent uber-Right (good for tips, bad for open political discourse.) Whereas I am usually quick to voice my opinion, I keep a close check on my tongue when it comes to the Politiks.

Today, I forgo a defense of 30/30, opting instead to pour stronger drinks, in hopes that my Clients will either feel sorry for me and tip more, or accidentally leave a $100.

Adam, who still has the car, is late picking me up this evening. I wait. He gets later. I wait. He’s stuck in traffic, so I wander on over to CVS to take in today's array of pharmaceutical wares. After observing the patience with which I have endured my husband's tardiness, The Man Upstairs reveals his blessing to me. In the form of a silver shopping cart emblazoned with a hand-written "90% off" sign, He rewards me yet again with the bounty of clearance X-mas candy. Thirty cents later, and I'm the proud owner of a Russell Stover 4-pack of assorted truffles, and a marshmallow Santa. The chocolates go for $0.21, and the Santa $0.09. I’ve got $0.05 left.

I’ve wolfed down the Russell Stover chocolates before Adam finally arrives. Apparently, he “didn’t know what time [he] was supposed to be there.” Super lame excuse, but Lady Luck shines on both of us tonight. I've got a belly full of choco-goodness, and I’m in high spirits. Adam gets off scott free, blissfully aware that what, on another day, might have earned him a sarcasm laden lecture about how “6:30 is rather ambiguous," has been averted. There will be no mocking and faux-understanding. He doesn't even get an "I guess 6:30 is pretty vague, what with all the nuances and interpretations from person to person. I mean, which time zone are we talking about? Before or after Day Light Savings? You know Arizona doesn’t even participate in day light savings, right? The Native Americans didn’t even have watches.”

He seems genuinely sorry, and has a friend in town, so I decide to keep my high horse locked away in the stables tonight. Plus, I got chocolate out of it.

I don’t eat dinner. I’m full of chocolate. And even as the cocoa starts to wear off, I don’t let it get me down. Why? Because I’ve got a Marshmallow Santa in my purse. Like most every member of the marshmallow family, Marshmallow Santas have always owned a place in my heart and back fat. Just as the proverbial tiny tot with his eyes all aglow eagerly awaits the arrival of St. Nick and his bag of toys, I impatiently anticipate the early-November appearance of his confectionery likeness on gas station and drug store shelves.

I had scored the last Marshmallow Santa of the season!

It is with heavy heart that I tell the reader what next conspires. In what can only be perceived as a cosmic bitch-slap, and appropriately proportional discipline, karma gives me the sugary back hand for even thinking about bitching at Adam earlier. It appears that my judgement, clouded by haste and delusions of Marshmallow-Santa-finding-grandeur, has erred. For my Marshmallow Santa is not a Marshmallow Santa at all. My Marshmallow Santa is a Caramel Santa.

I one-up karma by I eating it anyways.


* “Hey Napoleon, gimme some of your tots!”
† Was that a totally annoying sentence?
‡ I am continually delighted by the fact that the cook, who has run the kitchen for the past thirty years and absolutely hates me, goes by the title of “Big Daddy."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 10, Sunday: Forever, and ever, and ever, and ever. And ever.

As I choke down my brunch of green pea and spinach mush, I reach the realization that I have found the secret to eternal life. And eternal life sucks big.

The older I get, the more it seems the days quickly turn to weeks, and months become years. It is a decade since I graduated high school, but it feels like just yesterday I was crouched between cars, puffing away on my Newport cigarette hoping Oakie, the creepster campus police officer, wouldn’t catch me.

High school flew by, followed by undergrad and law school. Nights out at the clubs in Canada, sorority functions, pulling all-nighters to make up for skipped classes, they all passed without my even noticing. Now, its been almost two years since I finished school, and time has not slowed.

Until now. The past nine days have been an f-ing eternity, and twenty days from now might as well be twenty years. I wrestle from minute to minute with the mundane. Should I eat more green pea mush for dinner or bang my head against this concrete wall? (I reluctantly chose the green pea mush)

Perhaps I need to revive some of those excitements of childhood. Maybe I’ll steal a pack of cigarettes or smoke a joint in the Wal-Mart bathroom.


For those readers who may be interested in eternal life without the burden of a restricted diet, I've included this coupon I found off the internet
And this one for the bread of life. In case you get hungry.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 9, Saturday: Supermarket Sweep

Adam has to go to the grocery today, and I’m totally on board. As a small child, my father taught me that Saturday is free sample day. He also taught me that there is no shame in visiting a particularly good sample table as many times as they'll let you. I may not be able to buy groceries, I can sure make the best of a grocery visit. I grab a falafel patty on the way out the door, in case the pickings are slim.

Just as I have been a lifelong liberal, so have I been a die-hard Kroger shopper. By default, Adam became a Kroger shopper when he assumed the bonds of matrimony. Sure, Kroger’s lighting and interior design isn’t as good as Publix, and they don’t offer nearly as much choice in organic produce as Whole Foods, (which is fine, since I’m way too poor to buy organic) but what they lack in aesthetics and/or variety they make up for in price. Its fine with me that they don’t have organic chai latte muesli, since I was going to buy store-brand raisin bran anyways.

A sweep of the entire grocery store reveals that the effects of a poor economy have spilled over into the free sample arena. Typically one will find at least a meat and cheese roll-up in the deli area, but no such luck. Today, Kroger has two samples: (1) Rachael Ray’s new line of dog food, and (2) fresh baked bread. As I’m not quite desperate enough to eat dog food, even if it is made by Rachael Ray (who, not satisfied with taking over every other market, has now moved to pet food as well), I stick with the fresh baked bread.

I had forgotten how good bread was, not having purchased any premade, or having the ambition or skill to make my own. Since there doesn’t appear to be anyone monitoring the bread sampling area, I return three additional times, slathering my slices with the butter offered in compliment to it. Overcome with a piggish euphoria, I tell Adam to pick me up next door at Publix. I’m going to check out their sample selection.

Almost as soon as one enters Publix, she is met by a woman (it is, as far as I can tell, invariably a woman) in a little booth . When you meet her, this smiling hair-netted woman will be working away over a crock-pot and a skillet, preparing some sort of meat and side dish combo. Along with a cocktail party sized plate of whatever she’s whipped up today, she’ll hand you a recipe card so that you know which Kraft or Tyson products to buy, should you wish to recreate what you just got for free.

Today I am treated to a Sun-Dried Tomato Artichoke Chicken With Arugula Macadamia Salad*

I don’t want to complain, since I really didn’t earn this food, but I will anyways. The food looks pretty, and the recipe might actually be good if made by the right person. It appears that my sample chef, although fairly attractive and extremely friendly, isn’t the best cook. The chicken is tough and the vegetables are mushy, and covered with a slimy film.

Disappointed, I head on over to the deli where I am delighted to find my favorite cheese, smoked gouda, is in mine for the taking. Things are looking up. I eye a turkey luch meat sample. A woman, possibly aware that I've spent the better part of the morning sample swiping, uses her cart to block my way in an uncalled-for attempt at vigilante justice. I push through and she is unable to prevent my access to the turkey lunch meat sample. In today's first example of instant karma I drop the damn piece of turkey on the floor almost immediately. With a smirk on her face, cart-lady prepares her new defense strategy. I don't have the energy to wrestle with her again, so I forego a replacement turkey.

Adam isn’t out front when I’m done. I consider going back for seconds but decide against it. As it turns out, Sun-Dried Tomato Artichoke Chicken With Arugula Macadamia Salad (SDTACWAMS) and I will meet again later today

Julie and I have a shopping date at Atlantic Station because Old Navy is having a “big sale.” Incidentally, the sale is bullshit, and, if you want my opinion, Old Navy has gotten a little too big for its britches. Considering the quality of the product, I think anything on “sale” at Old Navy should be under $20. But I digress- Not having found anything to our liking at Old Navy, we visit a few other stores and head out. As luck would have it, Matt asked Julie to stop and get him some Dr. Pepper while she was out, and Atlantic Station features none other than a Publix, which both sells Dr. Pepper AND offers SDTACWAMS samples. It's better this time. And Julie is nice enough to give me the macadamia nuts off her Macadamia Nut Salad. Score!

Back home, Adam and Matt are watching football, and I’m starting to come down off the SDTACWAMS. Suddenly, I’m struck with a brilliant idea. I should hit up a few of the other, more high-end grocery stores and see what kind of swag I can score there! A scavenger after my own heart, Julie graciously agrees to escort me on my adventure.

The smell of patchoulie drenched Yuppies parading as hippies permeates as we enter the clean and colorful world of Whole foods. All shapes and sizes of overpriced tropical flowers and organic produce flood the eye with a rainbow of unnaturally natural reds, greens, yellows, violets, and oranges. The unchecked, and unvaccinated children of parents who don’t believe in discipline run amok as they child-handle the posh fruits and vegetables that they’ll later reject, throwing them in their parents' faces, screaming for Chicken McNuggets. I forgive the Yippies their contrary ways, and not just because they're paying for all the free samples I’m about to dig in to. It’s actually kind of cute how the color in their face matches their tie-dyed shirts as they yell in the face of the produce workers, demanding to know why there isn’t any Blueberry Pom today.

Julie and I gorge ourselves on two types of oranges, apple cider, tilapia in a dill cream sauce, hummus, some sort of weird cheesy crab dip, carrots in two separate kinds of ginger miso dip, salmon salad, some fresh baked bread, pannatone, and some tortilla chips (they were all out of salsa.) We buy nothing since (1) we never intended to, and (2) even if we had intended to, we were full now.

Although apparently not enough to invoke immunity from instant karma, I offer to let Julie wait in the store while I get the car, since it‘s raining fairly hard, and she has charitably agreed to accompany me on the tour d’ samples. Unable to locate my bright blue vehicle, I walk up and down the rows, finally locating the car, but then having to dig around in my gigantor purse for the keys. Wet, but not deterred, we head on over to Trader Joe’s to “sample” the local fare.

Besides being known for its beloved “Two-buck Chuck,” Trader Joes, the K-Mart of organic foods markets, is as fun and happy as a chain supermarket can get. The employees all wear Hawiian shirts to match the tropical murals on the walls. With a surprisingly nice price to delicious ratio, Trader Joe’s only drawback is the somewhat limited selection. On sample day, however, TJ’s doesn’t fail me. Their only sample is a green curry meatball, but I eat four of them to make up for the lack of variety.

Today, I enter an all new level of grocer enlightenment. Up until this point, I had been all too blind to the fact that Kroger has been robbing me of the free samples I deserve. But I’ll probably keep shopping there, since I’m afraid of getting the measles, mumps, or rubella.†

Best in Show goes to whole foods for taste, diversity, presentation, and quality.


Day 8, Friday: Absolutely nothing happens

Someone with sesquipedalian tendencies is given to using long words. I’ve always had very mixed feelings about the excessive use of big words. Take the word “superfluous,” which is, in and of itself superfluous. One could just say “extra” but it feels so good to say “superfluous.” On the other hand, however, it is far more effective to say “what smells like shit?” rather than “what is that miasma?” Note that the former conveys the speaker’s message, and eliminates the risk of confusion. One should always remember that, in using an obscure or fancy appropriately-used-in-the-correct-context word, you may get an elated feeling of superior intelligence, and more “alternative” people with little-5-points glasses may want to hang out with you, but you really just look like an ass.

I once had a college Speech professor who was very proud of himself and all the big words he knew. Instead of telling us that something we were about to hear was useful information, he’d say it was chrestomathic. And of course, we’d all miss the words of wisdom he was about to impart because, either (1) we were still trying to figure out what chrestomathic meant, or (2) we’d already stopped listening, since we knew we didn’t stand a chance of figuring out what the hell he was talking about anyways. He was, as he might say, given to altiloquence*.

As much as I would like to boast of my being far too sophisticated to be played by his pedantry, it is only very many years later that I can admit to all this. Like everyone else who took the class, he’d managed to pull the wool of the Emperor’s New Clothes over my eyes too. We’d all smile and nod our heads, like we totally got what he was talking about, since we knew everyone got a B anyways, and none of us wanted to be the one to admit that she didn’t have an F-ing clue what Professor X was saying. Convinced by his gobbledygook jibber-jabber that we were all much better orators, every one of us gave Professor X highest marks available on his performance survey, all the while having been deprived of any effective education on the subject.

So, what I’m trying to say here, is that I could go to great lengths, using colorful language to describe a day that could accurately summed up using one word, but that would be unnecessary. At the risk of sounding average, my day was LAME.

I ate peas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In between those meals, I ate some chocolate. I hate peas. I love steak.

*Pompous language

Day 7, Thursday: A public service message

Guiltily, I polish off the rest of the marshmallows this morning. In an attempt at counterbalance, I follow them up with some of my green pea and spinach soup. To avoid thinking about how unappetizing the pea glop is, I let my mind drift. I ponder the accuracy of the 30/30 experiment. Turning to Wikipedia, my favorite source of information (besides my mother), I learn that 36.2% of people in Africa actually live on less than $1 a day. Every day. Not just 30 of them.

What everyone tells me I am crazy to be doing, over a third of the African population is used to. I can bear these 30 days with a smile, knowing that there is an end in sight. I fully intend to dive headfirst into a glorious pool of gluttony as soon as day 31 rolls around. This knowledge buoys me when I might otherwise fall into a state of hunger despair. But what if this was life?
I promise not to let my blog entries become morose. I certainly don’t think anyone I know is responsible for world hunger, and I don’t pretend to know how to solve it. I’m just saying that we should be thankful for what we do have, and help where we can. As I eat my lunch of falafel taco, I remember that there are those who go without.

During my dinner of whirled peas and spinach, I wish for an exchange program which would allow me to turn in my gross Creole seasoning for a giant jug of Texas Pete. I try to be content, though, knowing that the worst of my complaints aren’t half bad. I have food to eat, a roof over my head, a job that pays the bills, a husband who loves me, a supportive family, and ridiculous friends.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 6, Wednesday: The Moral Dilemma: Are the cookies really free if you have to give your blood to get them?

I have a 7:30 appointment to give platelets this morning, despite Adam’s pleas that I wait until my 30 days is over. For those who are unaware, giving platelets, or Apherisis, is the 2 to 3 hour process in which they take your blood out of you and send it through this spinny thing. From what I understand, this machine seperates your white blood cells from the rest of the goop. Then, sans whities, they mix your blood up with some saline, and pump the new concoction right back into you like it never left.

Besides giving you that warm fuzzy feeling of self-satisfaction knowing you're saving lives just by sitting on your ass with some needles sticking out of you, they also give you (as far as I can tell) an unlimited supply of cookies* at the American Red Cross.

They don’t just give you cookies at the blood bank, they give you Oreos. Those who know me well are fully aware that I freaking love junk food. And cookies - cookies are like legal crack to me. I once ate so many ginger snaps I threw up, and those are only like a 6 on the cookie scale.

But the Oreo, what can I say about the Oreo? I have a fairly well developed theory, the thesis of which asserts that there are three foods on this earth which were created through a most unholy, yet perfect, union between God (or the Devil) and the Scientists. In an all too rare alliance, God (or the Devil) and the Scientists teamed up to bring mankind the most delicious unifications of science and nature. The trifecta to emerge from this rare coalition is as follows: Doritos, Velveeta Shells and Cheese, and finally, the crowning jewel, the masterpiece of masterpieces, the Oreo – the most magnificent matrimony of deity and learning. †

So as I lay there, hooked up to the machine, watching Parking Wars with my extremely friendly man-nurse, I am wracked with two questions:

(1) Are the cookies “open to the public,” since anyone can give blood, or am I actually entering into a bartered for exchange situation, in which they agree to give me Oreos in return for my bodily fluids?
(2) Do I care?

Since my man-nurse is new, I am blessed with a few extra needle sticks and an additional half hour or so to contemplate my dilemma. As it winds up, I am released from my chair only minutes before I am expected at work, eliminating the need to reach such important conclusions at this time.

I take the need for an expeditious departure as sign that Oreos and I are not meant to be today. In order to avoid the temptation, and a lecture about how I should rest in the recovery/cookie area before leaving, I sneak out sheepishly. But before I do so, I grab a bag of Teddy Grahams to give to Adam later. After all, I’ve earned it, and they’re so cute.

For lunch I have, you guessed it, a falafel taco. And 60 marshmallows. I figure I’ve gotta get my blood sugar up.

Another falafel taco for dinner, but I decide around 8 that I should cook something else for tomorrow. I’m come to rely so much on falafel, I’m neglecting the rest of my food. I don’t want to be stuck eating plain rice for the last 12 days. That would suck even more than eating falafel taco every day.

Tonight, as I prepare food for tomorrow, I learn that whole dried peas take a hell of a lot longer to cook than split peas. Also, whole peas are not delicious when you have nothing besides spinach and salt & pepper to flavor them. Yuck.

60 more marshmallows for dessert (blood sugar, you know.) And a frozen blackberry.

*Note: this may not be true in all states. In Michigan, I actually got a tuna salad sandwich, which although delicious, was not a valid substitute for cookies)

†An honorable mention goes out to the Cheeto

Day 5, Tuesday: SCORE! I heart candy!

I start out the day with a plain ol’ falafel patty.

Around lunch time I head on over to one of my favorite places of consumer excess, Tar-jay. A la the female stereotype, I am powerless to resist the lure of that giant red bull’s eye. The knowledge that I will later suffer from a purchase hangover is rarely strong enough to overcome the lure of the acquisition high. Any excuse will suffice for the chance to peruse rack after rack of shoddily-made , yet stylish clearance clothes (Sorry Target, you know I still love you.) And since I’m usually at least a season or two behind the latest trend anyways, I don’t mind sacrificing cutting-edge style for economy. Today, my “reason” (like I need one) for entering these hallowed halls of low to moderate priced merchandise is to procure a scale. I “need” a scale in order to document any weight changes that may occur over the course of my 30/30.

After spending time in the clearance clothes section, but finding nothing that tickles my reasonably priced fancy, I head on over to the bedding and bath section to get a scale. Since that’s the “reason” I came, after all. Apparently, scale ownership is for the privileged class only, as the cheapest Target has to offer carries the hefty price tag of $29.99. For that price, I could eat for another month! Believing myself clever, I think I might just weigh myself in the store, thus avoiding the cost of this swank item and the inevitable buyer’s remorse. Unfortunately, I can only assume that I am not the first to reach this conclusion, because the scale is firmly bolted/glued/tied/magically charmed inside of the damn box, and is not coming out without a box cutter, blow torch, and some needle-nose pliers. Having neither the tools on hand, nor the luxury of 30 dollars to throw around on fancy-schmance extravagances, I decide that I weigh 115 lbs.

Now, I admit that I had one additional motive for going to Target. As any self-respecting, clearance-seeking, candy lover knows, early January is a bargain bonanza of left-over Christmas confectioneries. After some trouble locating the post-season sale section, I find the holiday mark-down section in the far back of the store. Alas, it appears that too many of those in the know have been here before me. The treasure trove of holiday delights and delicacies I had imagined is but a flea-marketesque conglomeration of santa-adorned Christmas cards, tinsel, tree toppers, and Rudolph wrapping paper that missed the cut. I fear I have waited a few days too many in my quest to fill that sweets void in my life. Diligence is rarely disappointed however, and after digging through several bins of mostly inedibles, I locate three things worth keeping: (1) a Christmas ornament in the shape of the letter “K”, (2) holiday shape and color Kraft marshmallows, and (3) a giant brick of “chocolate” flavored almond bark. Marshmallows $0.11, and "chocolate" $0.19. Bam bitches!

After deducting these latest procurements from my $30, I now have $0.35, and only 25 days left to go.

As I leave the store with the plan of waiting until after lunch to break open the booty, I realize my inner fat person has gone ahead without my permission and eaten approximately 15 marshmallows before I’ve even pulled out of the parking deck. Ten or so marshmallows later, I’ve made it home, where I enjoy a lunch of Falafel Taco, even more marshmallows, and a small piece of “chocolate.” Never to be confused with Chocolate, “chocolate flavored” anything is the ugly step-cousin of Chocolate. In most cases, I would reject “chocolate” as one might reject dog-poop or arsenic, but when times are tough we must all suffer, my sweet tooth included.

More lentils and spinach for dinner, followed by six marshmallows.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

DAY 4, Monday: The clink ain’t that bad, I guess

Thankfully, I have not yet tired of lentils and spinach, since I made a large batch of it when Jeannie was here. It’ll do just fine for breakfast. And the Falafel Taco, my ever-faithful, if not overly exciting wife makes a fine lunch.

When dinnertime rolls around, I am looking at lentils and spinach again, and the novelty has begun to wear off. But like the contemplative convict who has reluctantly accepted her fate, I am resigned to my 30 days confinement in this bleak cell of bland and minimal food. Just as the inmate is tormented by thoughts of what could have been done differently, changed, or made better, I wallow in my regrets. If only I’d eaten a giant, juicy cheeseburger before I started, I wouldn’t crave meat so! OH, how I wish I’d rediscovered that damned peppermint bark I’d stowed in the glove box before my 30 days began!

And as my hypothetical caged convict spends her days carefully planning for the future, I count the days until I gain back my liberty, writing, and re-writing 8-page letters to Pizza on sheets of prison-issue toilet paper. I ponder and plot my first few moments and days of freedom. What will it feel like, I wonder? Do I reform and learn from my hard time served, forsaking my food friends (Jeannie), eating healthier, and exercising more? Or revert to my former self, order seven different types of cheeseburgers from the Vortex, and eat them all in one sitting? And dear baby Jesus in your golden fleece diaper, do I drink a beer or a diet coke first?

Of course, I could end this self-imposed epicurean abstention at any time, thus lifting the burden of serving as both prisoner and my own jailor. But that would make for a really lame blog. So, as I savor my dessert of four frozen blackberries, I decide to serve out the remainder of my sentence. How melodramatic is that?

By the way, I have never had prison food, but I think my girl Falafel Taco probably outshines even the belles of the prison-food balls.

DAY 3, Sunday: So, ladies and gentlemen... if I say I'm a pizza man you will agree.

Ate a late breakfast of lentils and spinach today. Jeannie and Adam had eggs, which I have never been a fan of. I’m content and self-satisfied, since I would have chosen the lentils over the eggs, regardless of the situation. This is good, since my strongest test of willpower yet is soon in coming.

A historic day in my 30/30 journey, today is the first in which I will brave a social setting where (1) food is present, (2) the food is one of my fave’s and (3) all are welcome and expected to share in the fare. We’re going to Brian and Michelle’s, and they are ordering pizza.

To impress upon you the import of this day, I must first begin by reminding the reader how much I love Food. I cannot say often or enthusiastically enough how much I love Food. Food and I have an intensely passionate and long-standing love affair.

As is too often the case in the most fiery and dependent romances, my relationship with food has often been a tumultuous one. Logic, and Fitness Magazine tell me that thoughtful and moderate relationships are the most healthy and stable, yet food and I continue to have a hot-and-cold, but unbreakable bond. I don’t just want Food, I need Food. I love Food for the power it has over me. I hate Food for the power it has over me. I almost got away once. I spent nearly an entire year existing almost exclusively on spinach salads and Ken’s Light Caeser dressing. I’d nearly broken free of the bridle. But like so many of those before me, who have been called back into the reign of a dominant lover, I once again gave over to my feverish, if destructive, devotion to Food.

One of the little mind tricks Food likes to play on me is Pizza. Pizza is like Food, in one of its purest and most wonderful forms. Pizza woos me with excitement, tells me how pretty I am, and that we will always be together. And unless I run every day, which inevitably I will not, Pizza will leave me fat and sad, wanting more Pizza. Pizza always deserts me, and all I am left with is a few extra pounds and the stains down the front of my blouse – which is, of course, now a size too small. But still, Pizza has my heart, my soul, my side fat.

Now, imagine me, watching everyone around me with their hands and mouths all over my true love. My heart and stomach churn with intense jealousy. Noooooo, pizza! You must be mine and only mine! In an attempt to disguise the F-ing lunatic raging inside of me, I smile and resist the urge to tackle Julie as she casually tosses her crust into the mouth of the unappreciative pit-bull mix, Vegas. I eat my falafel taco, which is actually pretty good, with a plastic smile fixed on my face. I talk about how good Falafel Taco is, in an attempt to make Pizza think I don’t care about it anymore. “Oh, yeah, Falafel Taco, you’re so much better for me than Pizza ever was. I don’t know whaaaat I was thinking when I used to get with Pizza all the time. Frankly, I think Pizza is underrated, I mean, overrated.”

But seriously, no matter how good Falafel Taco is, she’ll always be the average girl I settled for. Sure, we’ll get married, move to the suburbs, and have kids, but I’ll always be thinking of Pizza when we’re together. Pizza will always be the prettier, smarter, richer, more popular girl that moved away to chase her dream of being an actress, and actually succeeded. And now I’m at the same dinner party as Pizza with my Falafel Taco of a wife pretending like I’m happy for her happiness. That bitch. I hate her.

I didn’t eat any pizza.

Another falafel taco for dinner. Two frozen blackberries for dessert.

Side Note: Saw the bicycle bandit in the park today.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

DAY 2, Saturday: I Hate my Life (AKA Hunger sets in)

Had to work early in the morning and I love to sleep, so again, no breakfast for me. In retrospect, I realize I need to prepare something portable, or I will get hunger crazed and slip. This epiphany does me zero good as I spend the day surrounded by cupcakes and other delicious pastry morsels. Inner conflict rages. "It’s just a stupid experiment," screams my churning Stomach. "It is a stupid experiment," concedes diplomatic Brain, "but you said you were going to do it- so do it!" Brain, in a rare and hard fought battle, triumphs over the Hand-Mouth-Stomach Axis of Evil. I think about food, but eat nothing until 5:00, when I can go home. Yay! I won! Bleh! The only reward is the knowledge that I actually have some self-control. Which, come to think of it, feels pretty good, but not as good as a giant burrito would taste.

My day becomes much brighter when Jeannie stops by to visit, after getting an expensive haircut featuring some snazzy new bangs. A short visit turns into a late night, which becomes a sleep over. Jeannie and I possess a mutual deep-rooted and longstanding fondness for foods of all types, and have wiled away many a decadent night over cheeseburgers, tots, and plentiful PBRs. Lowbrow, perhaps. Delicious, Definitely. So while I look forward to her company, I was afraid of the temptations that might accompany her fellowship. Fortunately, for myself, Jeannie has decided that her face looks like a wheel of cheese, and has adopted 2009 as “No Food 2009.” Further, she has decided she is dying, and that beer makes her feel like shit. Sucks for her. Good for me. Since she was neither eating nor drinking alcohol, I am spared the ordeal of having to secretly hate her while she eats delicious foods and drinks delicious beer.

I make a small pot of lentils and spinach when I get home, eating a bowl of the concoction for both late late lunch and for even later dinner. A slight problem arises. I realize that I F-ing hate Cajun Seasoning ($1.89 down the drain! Live and learn). I can’t eat food with no flavor for 30 days! Upon today's newest revelation, I decide to enter a little business transaction with Adam. In exchange for $0.10 he sells me some salt and pepper in a shot glass. A small cheat, but an infinite increase in quality of life. I have $0.75 left.

For snack I had 1 cabbage leaf, and a dessert of two frozen blackberries.

As I watch the clock nonstop, wondering when it is acceptable to eat my next meal, Adam and Jeannie spend the night trying to undermine my resolve to stick with my rules. Not sure of what the rules actually are, since I’m new to this, and because it distracts me from the hunger pains, I allow the discussion. Conclusions I have reached:

1-I can only eat food available to the general public. I can’t eat food that I get for free from my job. I can’t go to a friend’s house and eat for free, and you can’t give me charity food (Margo!). That is, unless the offer is open to any and everyone. I mean, except George Bush. If there was only one muffin left and W really wanted it, I would break the rules and eat it.

2-I can’t make food from the $30 food I have, sell it at a profit, and buy more food. In an open market, maybe, but no bake sales for now. I’m a shitty baker, and it would just be a waste of my money.

More rules to come.

Day 1, Friday: The Bicycle Bandit overshadows Day 1 of my diet

I was not two sentences into this, my very first day of diet blog, when I heard a suspicious thump outside my front door. Normally I wouldn’t recommend unarmed females dash off to investigate suspicious noises, but it was fairly early in the evening, and I have, since childhood, been emboldened with an absurd and unfounded sense of invulnerability. Also, I suppose my courage has for too long been bolstered by the fact that we live in a run down house surrounded by dozens and dozens of fancy condominiums. I was under the impression that rapscallions and robbers alike would be lured away from our garage sale shack by all the fancy things owned by the fancy people who live in those fancy condos. Anyways, as I am not naturally a cautious person, I dashed, with careless haste and reckless abandon*, right out the door in search of the source of the suspect noise.

Like a cloud of foolish ignorance, I popped outside just in time to witness a tall camo-clad black man (I mention this, reader, only in the off chance that one of you comes across this villain) whisk away my husband's old, but high-end mountain bike. In a futile attempt to thwart this bicycle bucanneer's theivery, I yelled "HEY!" as loud as I could, and took after him in my bare feet. Because I can run faster than bike pirates. Oh, wait, nope, that’s Jesse Owens. The bike, and any hope of retrieving it are gone.

On a brighter note, the police showed up less than an hour later, restoring a tiny bit of the faith I long ago lost in anyone and everyone connected with the Fulton County Government. Oh, and, according to Adam - who apparently CAN run faster than a bike pirate, had HE, been here, he would have tackled our scoundrel and retrieved the bi-wheeled booty. To those ladies out there who aren't lucky enough to have such a man, I cannot begin to impress upon you how reassuring it is to have a husband with such skillz.

I apologize for my digression, but man, I can’t stand thieves. Sheesh. Back to the point at hand. Today’s diet:
I woke up late so no breakfast for me. This is actually okay, since Adam reminded me at 10:30 last night that I wouldn’t be able to eat anything delicious for the next thirty days, and I would I like to make the frozen pizza in the freezer? Well heck yes I did! That late night gluttony kept me pretty full all day until 2:30.

I couldn’t help but think that I needed to add some “spice” to my diet, so I stopped at the grocery on my way home from work and, after much deliberation about what flavor I could eat for 30 days straight, bought some Kroger brand Creole Seasoning. I also bought a head of cabbage, which is, surprisingly, high in vitamin C. I’m particularly concerned about the Big C, since I don’t have dental insurance and don’t want to lose my teeth.

Together, these came to $1.64:

This leaves me $0.85 left to spend for the next 29 days.

So no breakfast. For lunch I had a 2 oz. serving of Oriental Style Rice Noodles, with some Cajun Seasoning. For a snack I had two cabbage leaves, and for dinner I had a 2 oz. serving of Oriental Style Rice Noodles, with some Cajun Seasoning. Okay, not too well rounded. But I’m just not that hungry today. Day 1 down, not too bad if you forget about the whole bike theft.

Oh, and I should go ahead and say that one of the main differences between myself and the original experiment is that I am entirely too lazy/inept to calculate the exact amount of food I eat, and to the penny what each day costs me. I figure if I’m out of food in the end I ate more than $1 a day.

*I heart adjectives and, to a lesser extent, adverbs. I also am a big fan of the comma.

The Evolution of the 30 Day/$30 Diet Idea

Okay, so I started a blog to diary my 30 days/$30 “experiment,” which basically requires me to eat for 30 straight days for $30 (or $1 a day.) I initially became aware of the concept a few weeks ago while chatting it up with a coworker. She happened to mention a San Diego couple doing what they call the One Dollar Diet Project, ( The two Social Justice teachers set out to make a point about how food economics affects people’s lives by eating for $1 a day for 30 days.

As soon as I got home that day, I read all about them. Despite their Little 5-Points-esque appearance and uber-annoying sense of pretentious self-sacrifice, I was intrigued. This experiment was perfect for me! I’m already poor! What better way is there to endure insolvency than to embrace it, and maybe lose five pounds while you’re at it? Whether it was to share in the spirit of the experiment, or prove that it totally was not that hard, I was determined to get a piece of the action. So I set my mind to Anne’s own thirty day thirty dollar diet.
First step was to choose a day to begin. It was late December and obviously I wasn’t going to miss my mom’s home cooked Christmas dinner. (Cliche, yes, but Yum!) Certainly I couldn’t refrain from the drunken depravity and excess that is New Year’s Eve. And naturally New Years day I would be in recovery, requiring the medicinal remedies of more beer, pizza, and left-over Hannah’s Amazing Black Bean Salad. So the only real choice I had was for the project to take place from Friday, January 2, through Saturday, January 31.* This is, of course the first glaring flaw in an experiment attempting to parallel poverty. Choosing which day I would begin suffering, is hardly an option for those who truly suffer. But I’m not perfect. So there.

The weekend before embarking upon my experiment, I packed myself and the reluctant huz in the hatchback and headed off to the marvelous DeKalb Farmers Market. (Which, by the way, is on the bus line, lending access to those either more eco-conscious than myself, or not fortunate enough to have a sweet set of wheels like my own). A dollar goes significantly further at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market than it does at your average grocery store, but it’s still just a dollar. Accordingly, this land of edible wonders and enchantment lost some of its usual luster for me when my spending was restricted to a paltry $30. I tried to keep my eyes on the high-nutrition-to-value foods, but could not help but gaze wistfully at the bounties of fruit-filled croissants, assorted cheeses and other heavenly delicacies. Stoic and resolute, I went unwaveringly forth with purpose and $30 in hand, leaving with this:

Which came to a grand total of $26.51. See:

Which I guess you might not actually be able to read, because I'm not technologically savvy enough to make the image clearer. (or would more clear be correct? Jeannie?) But trust me, I have $3.49 left to spend. On whatever I want!

But before the 30 days begins, I made sure to take full advantage of my freedom to eat whatever the hell I want. We rang in the New Year surrounded by friends. We had our own ball drop, copious intoxicants, and plenty of calorie-laden goodies. All in all, I'd say it was a success. Let the 30 days begin!

* Incidentally, my first day back to eating normalcy will be Superbowl Sunday, so if I seem unusually pumped about it this year, you’ll understand. Woop! Woop!