City Desk

Can You Eat on a Dollar a Day?

Earlier this week, the New York Times published a fascinating piece about a California couple who tried to live for a month on a $1-a-day food budget. Their mission was certifiably insane, but their motivation was noble. After all, as reporter Tara Parker-Pope noted, "The World Bank says nearly a billion people around the world live on a dollar a day, or even less..."

Here are the money quotes from the story:

The budget forced them to give up many store-bought foods and dinners out. Even bread and canned refried beans were too expensive.

Instead, the couple — Christopher Greenslate, 28, and Kerri Leonard, 29, both high school social studies teachers — bought raw beans, rice, cornmeal and oatmeal in bulk, and made their own bread and tortillas. Fresh fruits and vegetables weren’t an option. Ms. Leonard’s mother was so worried about scurvy, a result of vitamin C deficiency, that they made room in their budget for Tang orange drink mix. (They don’t eat meat — not that they could have afforded it.)

In other words, they had to live on crap, which helps you understand why poverty inevitably leads to a shorter life span. You can read all about Greenslate and Leonard's experiment on their—what else?—blog,

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  • Downtown Rez

    Who thinks that "raw beans, rice, cornmeal and oatmeal" are crap?
    Who thinks that those things are not enough, in the long term?

  • Reid

    which helps you understand why poverty inevitably leads to a shorter life span

    True, but it also helps you understand that high school social studies teachers don't understand basic economic principles, such as the cost-of-living.

    Just make sure nobody tells them the average cost of a single family home in Cambodia, their heads might explode.

  • Yes-We-Can Mexican

    Crap? Ooh, that's a little much.
    Rice, beans and homemade tortillas is a beautiful thing, and goes a long way.

    Then again, I guess I was raised on crap.

  • Tim Carman

    You're right. Crap is a poor word choice. There is much to like about beans and rice and flour. There's just not enough of the right nutrients in those foods to sustain you over a long course.

  • Yes-We-Can Mexican

    I'm on board with that. Man cannot live on rice, bean and tortilla goodness alone.

    Interesting experiment. Although, I heard someone refer to it as being "cute".

    I'll have to check out the link.
    Hopefully they donated some of the food money they saved.