Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Repeating History - Time for an eat down

I *try* not to write about the same boring thing too often. Trying is the best I can do. Writers usually write what they are thinking about.  I think about the same things over and over. This can cause some problems when I want to write about new and fascinating topics. 

In 2010 I explained a problem in my  household.  Perhaps in the period of six years, you all SOLVE the problems in your household.  

Congratulations to you!  That is not how we roll. 

To review the problem we have, I will give you the shortest possible version:  Troy stockpiles food and likes there to be a lot on hand. When he goes to the grocery store his average bill is $350. I prefer not to "over do it" and just get some sort of sick and smug and Mother Superior satisfaction over having less on hand. When I go to the store I typically spend about $150.  

We just have different ways of being. 

He looks at me like I am crazy and says, "Tara, that is not that much chicken I bought. You don't understand how fast we will eat that." I look at him and think, "Why are you ready for Armageddon? You're not going to have enough propane to cook all that chicken when the bombs start dropping, so why buy it in the first place?"

This disagreement has to do with the culture(s) of the homes we were raised in and we both feel our way is better.  One of us is right.  The one that is right has a four letter name starting with T. 

We are taking our clowns on the road in July. The plan is to fly to Florida and then saddle up the rental mini-van and begin the long trek North, to God's country.  

We love traveling to the USA with these Third-Culture-Kids because they make everything joyful. The main conversation of our household as the trip is drawing closer has to do with how amazing mini-vans are and how clean the public restrooms are. 

They are not trying to be hilarious. They are dead serious. It doesn't take that much to impress them and that makes traveling with them a total blast. We plan to rate every bathroom we use and marvel at the flushing toilets and well stocked paper towel and toilet paper at each rest-stop. Isaac describes the mini-van as "luxurious"  - I can't even make this stuff up. It is pure gold. 

As we prepare to leave Port au Prince, we are imposing a 2016 "Eat Down".  This means no going to the store to buy more groceries.  It means you look at the food you have in your house and you make a meal with it.  

Eat Downs bring me into the fullness of superiority and glory - there are simply not enough SELF congratulations to offer when a can of french-cut green beans is my breakfast.  

June 2016 Eat Down kicks off today. Wish us the best.

Below is the archived information of the Waco, TX 2010 Eat Down before we headed back home to Haiti that year...    

This weekend we put off going to the grocery store no less than five times. This forced us to the point of serving a different meal for every person on Sunday.  I knew it was bad when Isaac came into our room Saturday morning and said, "Can you put syrup on those sandwich buns?" Then on Sunday he returned asking, "If I have that leftover taco meat for breakfast would that okay?"  Taco meat for breakfast?  Sure. Why not?  I get really weird when there is no food in the house; like I get some twisted enjoyment out of proving that it is possible to make a meal out of a can of refried beans, some mayo, one sleeve of saltines and three nearly rotten apples. 

It is called an "eat-down" and it is a thing, a real thing.  It means that you take inventory of your gluttonous ways and truly look at the food you still have in your pantry.  Who says a can of corn is not a meal? Throw a pickle and a black olive on top and it is a colorful culinary vegan masterpiece.

The real trouble occurs when Troy starts to feel he is not properly providing for his family because the cupboards and refrigerator are bare.  He feels safest when there is a two month supply of the staple items.  Oddly enough it caused issues when we first got married because I prefer to scrounge for food and feel superior over not needing to have a big stash and he prefers to have a freezer full and feels smart, safe, and ready for anything. (Earthquakes!)  He used to grocery shop occasionally in those early years and I would be annoyed at his massive stock-piling.  I did not even know why I was mad. Meanwhile, he thought I was an idiot for going to the store and only getting enough for five or six days. We finally figured it out about five years in, so now we enjoy mocking each other like all loving married people do. 

Lessons of the "eat down"

After the post I wrote Sunday, Troy declared that he was officially on board and not only was he on board but we would be legalistic and even barbaric in our eat-down rules moving forward.

Apparently if I want to mock his preferred methods, I had better be prepared to prove I am loyal to mine.

The photo above represents the last of the food in the pantry as of this morning.  There are also 12 stale instant oatmeal packets remaining.  The freezer has one half bag of frozen veggies and two hamburger patties.  The refrigerator has condiments, two eggs, four sticks of butter, and 1/4 gallon of milk.

Last Wednesday the people living in this home began to whine and complain. They even declared there was "NO food in the house" - yes, a full week ago.  Yet, we've eaten at home every night since then and no one has been forced to go hungry. Have we had some weird meals?  Sure. But we ate.

The Livesay family is blessed beyond measure. We are in the portion of the worlds population that live with the privilege of declaring there is "no food"  -  when in fact we have six to seven more days of food in our house. We learned a valuable lesson.  We don't know what NO food is like.  We only know that we get whiny when we're out of fruit and our favorite snacks.  

The point is not to feel guilty about what we have access to and resources for, not at all. I'm not teaching my children anything of the sort. The point is to consider that what is "no food" to us and what is "no food" to most of the world cannot even be compared. The problem of hunger and poverty in just one tiny country alone is mind boggling; we know that many face a daily struggle to feed their families.  This is the grievous reality that I pray I live to see changed.

The food that remains in our pantry, the amount we refer to as having "no food",  may exceed the amount of food most families around the world will consume this week.