Italians Who Want You to Eat Well: Batali takes on Food Stamps Benefits
by Nancy S. Mure
Celebrity Chef Mario Batali has proven one thing: He’s consistent. The celebrity chef (who makes his living feeding people) has taken a strong position against SNAP (State Nutritional Assistance Program) an their cutting of Food Stamp benefits to American families. To prove his point, Batali and his family are going to eat less. The family plans to live on Food Stamp Benefits (Approximately $124.00 a week) for a period of one month, on as little as $1.48 per person, per meal.
His point? To prove that hunger is not only happening to the homeless, it’s happening to American working class families needing assistance. The big question is, is it possible for a family of four to eat on $124.00 a week? Yes. Is it possible for that family to thrive? According to Batali, No.
So far, The Batali’s are quite hungry.
According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group), White families make up most of those on food stamps right now. The second being people of color and the third Hispanics. I was dismayed yesterday that some fellow Italian fb’ers, who celebrate food and have livelihoods selling their food products (containing HFSC, no less) disagree. So I decided to take on the challenge.
Would you be able to feed your family of four well for $5.92 a meal? Let’s see if we could make a simple Italian meal for that price.
Historically eggs were used quite a bit to substitute meat during the depression. Let’s look at a healthy, cost effective depression-era Italian meal consisting of Stratatella (Spinach and egg in broth) served with a Potato and Egg Fritatta on Fresh Italian Bread.
Here’s the break out for the cost for a six-egg fritatta made with two medium potatoes on Italian Bread with a side of soup.
For the Fritatta:
The price of one egg averages $.25 so a six egg fritatta would cost approximately $1.50
Potatoes cost approximately $.36 a pound (There are 16 ounces in a pound, so 5 lbs 12 ounces is 5 12/16 = 5 3/4 = 5.75 lbs. $2.07/5.75lbs = $0.36/lb.). So, two medium potatoes would cost approximately $.27.
A loaf of Italian bread costs approximately $1.69 per loaf.
2 oz (4 Tbsp) Olive oil for frying (Trader Joes Olive Oil $5.99 per liter, 1 liter = 67 Tbsp @ $.11 each) costs $.44
For the Stratella:
1 package of frozen chopped spinach costs approximately $1.69
One scrambled egg is $.25
1 quart College Inn Chicken Broth (non-organic) @$13.00 per gallon = $3.25
Let’s do the math.
Total Cost $9.09
That’s a 54% increase which put us over budget for the day and this doesn’t include breakfast or lunch.
Some Italian-American Fb’ers have something to say about this. Likely for publicity, they are planning to challenge Batali on this issue proving that it is in fact possible to feed a family of four well on Food Stamp benefits of $124.00 per week with Italian Immigrant cooking and that a good cost-effective method is loading up at Farmers Markets to get organic food. Show me one inner city neighborhood where farmers markets are consistently available to these people and if they are, accepting of an EBT card.
The bigger problem here is that there is a high cost for eating well in this country and this nonsense of cutting back Food Stamps benefits is only serving to hold up the passing 2012 Farm Bill.
Come on people. Get a clue.
Sure, you can live on white rice and canned beans in BPA cans, hormone induced chickens and supermarket meat containing pink slime and ammonia. Sure you can buy sale items containing HFCS, GMO ingredients, hydrogenated oil and milk loaded with r-BST. But you’d be getting the bottom rung and there’s something really wrong with that. This is America – eating well is a right, not a priviledge and in this country the poorer you are, the lower quality of food you will eat. A budget of $124.00 per week for three healthy meals a day for a family of four is cutting it close.
In the name of food equality, for folks needing who need it, cutting Food Stamp Benefits isn’t the answer. Making organic, sustainably farmed, pesticide free, non-GMO food affordable to every American at an affordable price is.