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The two faces of Hunger #7 The two faces of Hunger #7
by Katerina Charisi
2020-03-27 09:16:43
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Some time ago we went to the super market with my husband. We rarely go together anymore for two reasons: We almost never have that much money to spend, so two people are not needed (or the car). That day though, was one of precious good ones. We had enough to buy everything we needed. The second reason is that he can’t put up with me.

He can’t deal with the non-plan plan. He can’t stand losing me in seconds when we walk around the shelves, he can’t wait while I check on this and that and take something and then find the same something of a different brand but cheaper, so I’ll have to get the first one back to its place and keep the other and so on. He knows that I’m only trying to buy as much as I can with less money. But he just can’t stand it. Patience is his weak part on this.

pov01_400Anyway, I noticed that with less money and less options, it takes me more time to finish shopping. Half joking and half serious I estimated once that with the amount of 20-25 euro (which is the usual week’s budget) I need 45 minutes to get out of the super market.

Our diet has ups and downs - mostly ours, trying to keep some balance to the children’s diet. We don’t always make it. I cannot make a meal plan according to a healthy diet, but to the money we have each time and the markets’ discounts. To plan a family’s meals and eat healthy, you must not have a financial problem (at least not that serious). You go to the super market with a list and a meal plan when you have enough money to keep it. When don’t, you just go and look around and buy as much as you can with the least, to stock your cabinets.

Sacrificing quality over quantity is -unfortunately- a must.

Our menu is determined by the super market’s mood and not mine.

When you don’t have enough money, you are forced to eat just anything comes with a discount.

No one dies out of hunger in Greece, but the last two weeks of each month we eat anything because we have no money.

No one dies out of hunger in Greece, but if you ask anywhere - to the biggest super market or the neighborhood’s little grocery store, they will tell you that the first half of each month they have their most income, while as the month ends the customers are getting less (and so their income and our food on the table).

In his book “Hunger”, Eli Saslow mentions that for the time in US history children are born with life expectancy less than their parents and that’s because of unhealthy, poor diet. Hunger is everywhere, in every part of the supposedly wealthy, west world.

We oddly believe that poverty means skinny, but in our case the opposite happens: A thin body is a sign of wealth, while poverty more than often means obesity, diabetes, cholesterol and heart problems due to poor and cheap diets.

Even when we talk about kids.

A kilo (2 pounds) of beef from a supposedly good butcher and supposedly of good quality, costs 10 euros. Beef has always been the least popular among the poor, and the reason is simple (and practical): It shrinks when cooked. On the contrary, lamb is better:  You get back the same amount you first put in the pot.

So, 10 euros per kilo. For a family of four, we always talk with kilos and not less. Having the beef though, doesn’t mean you have the meal. You need onion, carrots, potatoes, rice, tomatoes, and of course, olive oil for a nice, tasty soup.

To buy something and make something tasty and healthy out of it, it means that you have stocked your cabinets with pasta, rice, beans, spices, and your refrigerator with fresh vegetables. But, when you run out of money every two weeks,

Let’s start over: 10 euros.

You won’t spend 10 euros for a kilo of beef. Remember Margarita? Her budget is often less than 10 euros. So is mine.

So what you do, is trying to get as more meals as you can with the least money.

You will choose some bad quality’s sausages that cost less than 2 euros per pack, that you can split in half and cook two days with pasta the one, and eggs the other.

You will choose UHT milk instead of fresh for your kids (less than 1 euro per liter, instead of 1,50 or 2,30 for goat milk). You will buy canned food. Frozen food. Cheap stuff.

With 2 euros you can get a bag of frozen meatballs - around 50. To make 50 meatballs you need 5-10 euros only for the ground beef. Add the bread, the onions, the eggs, the olive oil and the vinegar, French fries and some salad.

Do the math and feed them all. You can’t afford all this.

The biggest challenge nowadays is to try endlessly to come up with ways to cook more meals with less money.

And you’re going to make it.

Bad news though is that those meals are so poor in nutritional value, that will only make you hungry faster.

And you will eat again (if there’s something left).

Typically, you enter to an endless circle of eating useless stuff that don’t actual fill your stomach, they make you fat and reduce slowly but steadily your health (and your children’s).

If you have to spend 4 euros for a small bag of fresh fruits that you will eat in less than ten minutes, while with the same 4 euros you can buy some crap to cook meals for two days, what will you choose?

A good diet is for those who are not hungry.

If you have to choose among eating anything and eat nothing, you will take the “anything”.

The solution is not the governments to give more benefits or coupons or discounts or whatever. These solutions can only allow you to survive, but not live. People are more than a bunch of flesh and bones that eats, sleeps and takes shit.

Isn’t that so?

(And I still didn’t get back to the funny story. Well, next time I guess.)


 The two faces of hunger #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #




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