Thu 15 Nov 2012
We finished our fast at the beginning of last week, and wanted to reflect on it a bit. The plan was to make $327.60 (the average food stamps benefit in Washington for a family of three) last for all of our food purchases for 40 days. I’m happily surprised to say that we did it – with $6 to spare! I should admit, though, that I cheated by purchasing 60 pounds of apples outside of that food budget, and then we ended up eating a number of those apples and applesauce…
As the days passed on our fast, I quickly learned that our pantry and freezer are broad and deep. The freezer provided pretty much all of our meat for the 40 days (I think I bought about 2 meat items the whole time), and we only made a minor dent in how much we still have. This is good news for my vegetarian sympathist side, but may also explain why Seth has been waking up every morning lately asking to have “meat for breakfast.”
Also in regards to our pantry: with a week left to go, I discovered that we had flour beetles. Into the trash went the nearly full box of organic cornstarch, the bag of vital wheat gluten (you know, for making homemade seitan…someday), among many other things.
Overall, our actual meals were about the same as usual. If anything, they were sometimes more ambitious (see: Todd’s homemade sopes, tamales and Caribbean oxtail soup). So did the fast have any effect on us? Well, Todd can write down his thoughts, but speaking as the primary grocery shopper, every single grocery shopping trip was a lesson. As the stack of paper bills in my wallet shrank, and as my shopping list grew more austere (for us), God was showing me how I often take my blessings for granted, and letting me walk, in this small way, in the shoes of someone who lives in poverty. You better believe that leftovers got eaten, the $3 lemongrass “splurge” got discussed and analyzed, and we got stretched to have more-with-less.
I read the book A Place at the Table throughout our fast, and while the short essays were okay, what I found really helpful were the suggestions to pray for specific people in specific communities around the world.
Since we did stay within our budget, Todd asked if we were boxing ourselves into that every month. I said no, as did my Costco receipt the day after our fast ended. But I hope to remember and use what we have learned through these last five weeks.