Recently, a friend in the public health field quoted an article or report that said the average American eats for about $7 per day, and then went on to suggest we should try it for a week.

The latest data I can find is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in their 2005 Consumer Expenditures Survey Results. Table A on page 3 shows the annual expenditure on food to be $5,931 per consumer unit, with an average of 2.5 persons per consumer unit (isn’t it nice to know how the government thinks of you, Mr. or Ms. Two Fifths of a Consumer Unit). This comes to roughly $6.50 per person per day. Yikes.

I’m totally game to try this, and am already fascinated by the changes required. No coffee from the espresso stand in the morning, no going out to eat (save perhaps fast food), very little meat, and so on. I remember being frustrated to learn after reading Walden that Mrs. Emerson cooked Thoreau dinner all the time; I’ll do my best to make mine a more authentic experiment, but I’m sure there will be some inherent unfairness and inaccuracies. I’ll post my thoughts after next week.

And it doesn’t go without saying, we’re incredibly fortunate to be in a position where this is temporary, and just an experiment for us. It does seem a good time to try this, though, given the financial climate. There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today that describes how economic down times can actually give people more time to focus on slow things like cooking and paying attention to their health. One (small) silver lining, I suppose.

posted October 6, 2008 – 8:56 am
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