Day 2 is in the bag. I’m hungry in a snacky sort of way, but I’m trying to stay out of the kitchen because I don’t think we can afford to be frivolous with our food supply. When I first lugged all our food home and set it up on the table, it seemed like a lot. I figured the issue was going to be simply the quality of the food, not the quantity. Turns out it’s both. I was prepared to feel crappy. Grumpy even. I wasn’t really prepared to be hungry. Our diet for the past two days has been composed almost entirely of simple carbs. So although the food is filling us up quickly at meal times, we’re finding we’re hungry again within the hour. And looking at how much food we have left after only two days, I’m worried we won’t have enough to get us through to Saturday night.
Isaiah has it pretty good. Today he got an egg, sweet potato from a jar, soda crackers, pablum, mama juice and freshly steamed carrots. We get four carrots to last the week. Jason and I decided Isaiah gets all of them. Thing is, Isaiah is not so much a fan of carrots, unless they are in their “baby” form. What he wants more than anything is something I can’t give him. This kid wants an apple.
Here’s a photo to give you an idea of how much my son loves apples:
Jason has just walked into the living room now.
“I think you should write about our olive oil controversy.”
He makes it sound like like western democracy is at risk. The Great Olive Oil Controversy of 2013.
Here’s the deal:
In our instructions for this challenge, as supplied by The Stop Community Food Centre, we have a list of food items to purchase that replicate what a family might expect to receive in a food bank hamper. In addition to this, we are allowed five pantry items; things like coffee, tea, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, flour, margarine/butter, ketchup, mustard, cooking oil, spices, vinegar, etc. We chose coffee, tea, flour, cooking oil and margarine/butter. The rule is that they had to already be in our pantry, and we weren’t allowed to go out and buy more once we received our instructions. We had what we had. What I DIDN’T realize until yesterday when I was making our flat bread was that we don’t have that much olive oil left. I made another batch of bread tonight. I could do another half batch, but that’s pretty much it for the oil. No big deal. We have a huge bottle of vegetable oil in our cupboard. Except that bottle isn’t oil at all. It’s apple cider vinegar. Oops.
So Jason thinks we should just go out and get more oil, because it’s on our pantry list, and we wouldn’t have chosen it as one of our items had we known we were almost out.
I’ve asked Jason to dictate what else I should say about his position. I want to make sure I’m representing his point of view adequately.
He’s declined. “You just go ahead,” he says.
Asking your fiancée to explain a controversy you are a part of is like dating Taylor Swift and thinking the song she writes about your breakup is going to be fair and objective.
Oh wait! Here’s what he has to say: “I was just really looking forward to those potatoes.”
Yes, it’s kind of sucky. Jason, the son of a potato farmer, really does know how to make a delicious potato. He was counting on olive oil to aid in the roasting process. It was likely going to be our big treat in the middle of the week. Salmon from a can, and a roasted potato drizzled with olive oil and salt – salt that he nicked from the local hamburger joint, thereby preventing us from needing to count it as one of our pantry items. I asked him if he can use butter. I know I can use butter to make the flat bread.
“It’s not the same.”
[As a side note, I had to search to see if we had butter in our fridge before the challenge began. We did, but I didn’t (and still don’t) have any idea how long it’s been in there. I used it in making Kraft Dinner last night. I first had to cut off the discoloured (rancid?) bit on the outside. Everything seemed okay, but it is possible any strange flavour from the butter was masked by the “real cheddar taste” of the florescent orange powder. Don’t tell Jason.]
Here’s what I think about our “controversy”:
So we don’t have oil for the rest of the week. Sunday afternoon we can go out and get more olive oil and have a roasted potato for dinner. I’m okay with going sans oil because I belive it’s realistic to think people who regularly rely on food banks could run out of oil and not be able to immediately replenish it. I don’t want to make things easier, or look for loop holes. I want this to be as authentic as possible. I want to be reminded of what it’s like to not have what you want, when you want it, how you want it, etc.
Jason said something at the beginning of our preparations that I really like:
This challenge is really an act of compassion and love. There is love present in suffering with others.
At least I think that’s what he said. I’ve just asked him to repeat it but he can’t. His brain is too fuzzy from simple carbs and a lack of caffeine.
I’d be a bit of a drama llama if I called what we’re doing this week suffering, but I keep coming back to Jason’s words. Even though we are having some disagreements on how this week is going, I know that deep, deep down, we are on the same page.
Jason has now gone back to studying.
Here is what he had to get through the day:
1 Single serving “fruit at the bottom” yoghurt
1 packet of instant oatmeal
Left over macaroni and cheese (yum…)
2 hard boiled eggs
1 granola bar
4 pieces of flat bread
Pasta with a can of tomato sauce, kidney beans and canned mixed vegetables (I think the canned vegetables might have contained Berti Bott’s Every Flavour Beans because the wax beans really did taste like wax!)
Here’s what I had to eat:
1 Single serving “fruit at the bottom” yoghurt
1 packet of instant oatmeal
1 can of pork and beans with molasses (okay, maybe that was close to suffering…)
1 hard boiled egg
Butternut squash soup
2 Donuts (woo hoo!!!)
My dinner didn’t come out of our food rations. Tonight I had dinner by myself at a meal programme in my neighbourhood. In the instructions for this week, we’re encouraged to eat at least one or two meals at a drop-in centre. I decided I wanted to go once by myself, once with Isaiah and once as an entire family. The idea is we’re supposed to go to a programme where we don’t know anybody, and that we haven’t volunteered at before. We’re simply supposed to show up and eat, just like any other guest would.
I coordinated an Out of the Cold lunch last year, so not only have I met a lot of volunteers and staff at various meal programmes, I know a lot of the guests too. It means I can’t go to any lunches or dinners in the downtown core. I was fairly certain I wouldn’t run into anybody I know at the dinner I went to this evening at St. Peter’s Church.
I felt completely awkward when I walked in. I realized I didn’t want to be there. I was exhausted from looking after Isaiah all day and not having any energy. I didn’t really want to interact with anybody. I was grumpy. I was hungry. I felt out of place. I wasn’t sure if I could just sit down, if somebody would tell me where to sit, if I was supposed to line up, etc.
This only lasted a few seconds, because almost immediately a duo of teenaged girls swooped towards me with bright, cheerful smiles and asked if I was there to eat. I said yes, I was, and they told me I could sit sit anywhere I liked. It was soon very clear I had only just made it to the end of the dinner. I sat at a table by myself. One of the girls asked if I would like some soup and quickly brought some over. A boy came over and asked if I would like some juice. I bet I had at least five high school kids waiting on me. They brought me bread, juice, water, soup, butter and finally…a donut! I don’t know why this was so exciting. It’s not as if I’ve been lacking is refined white starch and sugar the past two days. But this donut was DELICIOUS! I asked if there were any leftovers I might be able to take to my husband. “My husband” seemed easier than “my soon to be husband”, “my fiancé”, “my common law husband”, “baby daddy” or “the man I’ve been living in sin with for the past two years”. There wasn’t any leftovers, but they told me I could take as many donuts as I liked. I took two, plus another roll, and brought them home for Jason.
We sat on the couch together eating our donuts and I told him about the kids who served me dinner. They totally made my night. I felt awkward and out of place, and they made me feel…normal. And welcome. They made me feel like I was supposed to be there and that they were happy to see me.
And honestly, it was exactly what I needed in that moment.
Here is my daily nutritional analysis:
I hope I don’t need my blood to clot this week (Vitamin K). It looks like scurvy is on my horizon (Vitamin C) and that I’m not going to get any restful sleep (magnesium).
Or maybe I’m just being sad and pessimistic because I’m just don’t have enough Vitamin D in my life…