Over the next five days I will be offering up a series of brief blog posts related to an initiative called Live Below The Line.
As a man who claims to seek balance in life ~ idealistically placing selected extremes in frugality upon himself, pontificating with suburban self-righteousness on the importance of maintaining a holistic home (using trendy catch phrases such as, “Simple” “Organic” or “Natural” living), romantically pondering upon then whimsically writing catchy tunes about environmental concern, spiritual integrity and social change ~ my small family and I still spend several hundred dollars each month on groceries.
Yes ~ we make determined efforts not to waste, buy as few processed or GM foods as possible, limit the amount of meat we consume and live without the luxuries of mobile phones, television or multiple cars….BUT we do buy highly priced biodegradable dish soaps, shampoos and laundry detergents, alongside organic/free range eggs, milk and yogurt that are all twice or three times the price of other such products. A dear friend of mine once told me in sarcastic truth, “I will eat and live better when I can afford to do so!” The reality is: while many of us talk of balance and forging more healthy lifestyles for our families, an estimated 1.2 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty everyday.
My dear friends at MADE in Europe in the UK asked me to join their team as an ambassador of their incredible work. No sooner had I agreed than they told me of a challenge they were waging to raise money for, and awareness of, global hunger and poverty: Live Below The Line.
Live Below the Line is a community fundraising campaign, coordinated by the Global Poverty Project in the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand and the Oaktree Foundation in Australia. Approximately 25,000 of us around the world have taken up the challenge which starts tonight at midnight.
The objective: to live on no more than £1.00 ($1.85 CDN) of food per day for the next 5 days. ($8.25 for the week)
This afternoon I went out to my local bulk food store and purchased $5.35 worth of black beans, pasta, dried oats, a little milk powder and 5 tea bags. Over to the grocery store to spend my last few dollars on whatever fresh produce I could find ~ things became much tougher. One orange $1.75?! One apple $0.80?! One large onion $1.25?! “Were these things always so expensive?” I wondered to myself, as it became painfully obvious to me just how flippantly I shop each week without even looking at prices. How could I even begin to create a balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables being so highly priced? The challenge kicked in with the sad reality of how hypocritically I live ~ singing about balance but shopping without even a care of how much the apples I eat each week even cost.
Then I saw the discounted produce cart. That twisted trolly off to the side of the vegetable aisles in many grocery stores, stacked poorly with re-shrink-wrapped fruits and vegetables damaged or discarded during the week. I had perused it in the past, but was always turned off by the tender tomatoes, bruised apples and browning bananas ~ never making it my routine to revisit the cart for potential savings (or pangs to my pride perhaps?). Tonight however, I realized it was my only option if I truly wanted to have some produce during the week ahead. With that realization was the embarrassing acceptance of a fact I always knew in my mind but never took the responsibility to face: many others have no other option but to buy second or third rate produce for themselves or their families…if they can afford or have access to produce at all! Purchasing the otherwise discarded fruits and veggies, I was able to secure carrots, apples and bananas ~ spending my remaining $8.25 to the last penny.
Discussions of global poverty can be so abstract, with the repercussions of it seeming so far away. But even here in Canada where I live, a recent survey estimates that half the country’s population feel they are only two paychecks away from poverty. Food bank demands are not being met and even when my daughter plays with neighbourhood kids in the playground behind our house, she comes home with stories from peers who say that all their parents give them to eat for dinner some nights are potato chips with pop.
Join me over the next week as I Live Below The Line ~ face up to the reality of global poverty by personally stabbing myself in the gut with it, then try to reawaken my heart toward not only changing how I live, eat, spend and waste…but also toward how I can help others who struggle for even the most basic food.
You can help me by sponsoring my efforts here
There are 253 of you wonderfully supportive subscribers to this blog. If each of you just donates £1.00 per day (for a total of just £5.00/$8.25) together we can raise £1,265.00 (or $2,087.25).