Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dumb comments from someone else's blog

I've been reading a blog where someone tries to eat just a dollar a day. This is maybe the fifth such blog I have read, plus I tried to do it myself for a couple of weeks. I think that they are interesting.

Well, they get the occasional dumb comment. People don't like that they are pretending to be poor. Not that they were actually pretending to be poor. If they were even close to pretending to be poor they wouldn't go to the movies or do any social things which require money, they wouldn't drive their cars anywhere that they didn't have to be, etc.... These people weren't doing that, they were just setting limits on the amount of money they spent on food. They weren't pretending to be poor or making fun of the poor.

People who leave these negative comments need to get a life. But those people are usually in the minority.

And then there are a lot of us who try to give advice. And some of the comments were really bad advice.

So there are people who stop by and tell him to eat more vegetables or eat whole grains and such. And I have no problem with that. Vegetables are good for you, and whole grains are good for you. But it seems like some of these people were trying to get him to be a vegetarian. Again, I have no problem with someone being vegetarian, and that food choice is better for you than what most of us make. But this wasn't the good for you challenge, this was the dollar a day challenge. So maybe the good for you stuff might go a bit over budget.

The one that I really thought was dumb was the one who thought quinoa was the way to go. And so I pointed out that quinoa wasn't cheap, and at nearly four dollars a pound this was something to stay away from if you only have a dollar a day to spend.

Someone else replied that compared to other grains, quinoa was a cheap source of protein.

First off, the point isn't to get a cheap source of protein compared to other grains, the point was to get inexpensive food. Why get quinoa if it is a cheap source of protein compared to other grains, when compared to other foods it doesn't add up. A cup of cooked quinoa would have eight grams of protein (I could swear it was nine grams, but I just looked it up and it is eight grams), while an egg would be about six grams. But the cup of quinoa would cost more than an egg, so a better comparison would be two or three eggs which would be twelve or eighteen grams of protein for less money. Or chicken might be a better deal. When I got the chicken leg quarters ten pound bag on sale for $3.90, it says that it contains 30 servings at 17 grams of protein per serving. I think that is a little misleading, as this serving is a certain amount of chicken and not a whole piece of chicken. If you cut the leg quarters in half, you have 22 pieces of chicken, not 30, so you have to cook the chicken before you could divide it into servings. Still, even if it were 22 servings at 17 grams of protein per serving, that is $3.90/22 = about eighteen cents per serving. So you would get a lot more protein from half a leg quarter than from a cup of quinoa, and it wouldn't cost as much. From a pound of grain you get about eight cups cooked servings, so that serving of quinoa would cost you about fifty cents. You could have almost three pieces of chicken for that.

Quinoa is the in thing right now, so it is expensive. It does have a bit more protein than most other grains, but you could buy so much more other things for the money. Even if you wanted to stick with grains, you could buy a pound of rice for about a dollar and some other kind of grain for about a dollar, get about five or six grams of protein from a serving of each of them, and still have saved almost two dollars from buying two pounds of other grain instead of one pound of quinoa.

So if a person really had to get by on a dollar a day, even if he wanted to avoid meat, why would he spend his money on quinoa? Let us say that quinoa is $3.59 cents a pound (last time it was either that or $3.79, so I'm going to say $3.59 just because it is easier math to follow), and that a person only has seven dollars to spend for the week and he spends it all on quinoa. He'll get almost two pounds of grain, which will make about sixteen cups when cooked (hopefully a little more but probably not much), and if he eats a cup per meal he will probably have to skip breakfast most days and will get between sixteen and twenty-four grams of protein per day. And he won't have anything else to eat, just the grain.

With the same seven dollars, and still avoiding meat, a person could buy a pound of rice, a pound of some other grain, a dozen eggs, a pound of lentils, a pound of some other kind of beans, and an onion and a few peppers. And depending on exactly what he does buy and where and if he gets things on sale, he might have enough left over for some seeds to make sprouts from, some popcorn, and maybe even a few more vegetables.

And that's if you are trying to avoid meat, which was not part of the challenge. Otherwise you could skip either some of the grain or some of the beans and maybe get some cheap sausage or hotdogs, maybe a pound of hamburger if it is on sale, or maybe some chicken if it is on sale. And don't forget to look for those marked down packages of meat that are about to go out of date.

I thought that it was very odd that someone actually tried to make a case that quinoa was a good deal if you don't have a lot of money to spend on groceries.

But that wasn't even the dumbest comment on the blog. The dumbest comment was somebody trying to say how wonderful the blogger was by comparing him to Christopher McCandless.

Christopher McCandless???

McCandless is a guy who just sort of walked away from his regular life to wander around the country, do odd jobs, and hitchhiked to Alaska. When he got to Alaska, he didn't do anything normal like rent a room or get a job, he just headed out into the woods, didn't tell anyone where he would be, and lived in an abandoned bus for a couple of months. Then it was cold, and he ran out of rice, and he couldn't cross the river to get back. He wasn't able to hunt or fish much, and what he did kill he wasted, cause he didn't know how to preserve meat. He died, probably from accidentally eating the wrong wild plants, and not being able to get medical help.

If McCandless wasn't mental ill, he was at least very stupid.

And what does any of that have to do with trying to live on a smaller grocery bill? The commenter seemed to think that McCandless was some sort of hero. I would think a comparison with someone who wandered out into the wild without adequate planning would be an insult. And it doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything. The guy blogging about eating on a dollar a day didn't drop out of school or quit his job or dump his family and friends or any of that. He just spent less money on food for a few weeks.

It was just a little experiment.



Ananda girl said...

Wow. I guess people don't think things through.

I've never heard of that guy... but he does not sound like a hero to me.

We get idiots on our mountain that don't know what they are doing, get lost and risk the lives of so many good rescue people every year. I am tired of dumb hikers. What is so hard about using a tracker device that pin points your location so that no one gets hurt if you get lost? Sheesh.

Sorry... not what your post is about. But you are right, the readers were not looking at the math correctly.

laughingattheslut said...

There was a movie about the guy, plus a book or two. I haven't read the books, but we've seen the movie. In the movie, the guy walks across a river, and either he is able to do this because the river is partially frozen over, or least the river is relatively low and not moving too fast. Anyway, he gets wet and cold, and I'm not sure how he planned on getting warm and getting his clothes dry if there wasn't a room with a fireplace waiting for him after he got past the river. On the other side he finds a bus and lives in it. He didn't seem to have adequate camping equipment for living in my backyard, much less frozen Alaska, so I don't know where he planned to live if he hadn't found this bus. It almost seemed like the bus was his destination, but I don't see how that could be, as if the bus was a well known place then people would know to look there if a person was missing, and they didn't. So then one day he just decides that it is time to go back, possibly because he ran out of food, and now the river is deep and fast, and he can't cross it.

So there are a lot of things that just don't seem to make sense in the movie, and I haven't read the book, but I'm told by people who have read all of this that he still doesn't make sense. Like, why did he cross the river? If he wasn't planning to live on this bus, if he was planning to build some sort of shelter, he could have built it on this side of the river and been able to leave whenever the weather turned warm, not been trapped by the river when it turned warm.

But he died doing what he wanted to do, and this just seemed to make him a hero to some people. I'm pretty sure that these same people would not have thought him a hero if he had decided what he wanted to do was live as a hermit with a zillion cats, and then died after being buried under a huge pile of books and newspapers. Being that kind of hermit doesn't sound cool, though I have to think that they have more sense than this guy.

dmarks said...

He reminds me of the guy who was eaten by bears, filmed by his own camera.

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