The Official Live Below the Line Week from New York

Day – 29-33 or 1-5 of the official LBL challenge!

  • Breakfasts: oats and orange peel, as per the norm…
  • Lunches: usually left over dinners
  • Snacks: the regular cold cooked potatoes, yams and corn bread one day
  • Dinners: combo of the following… lentils, rice, pasta, couscous, kale, pasta sauce and a few flavours of onion soups, chicken broth and taco seasoning

My own kitchen with stove, oven and more!!!

It was by far the easiest week of cooking and eating as I was based in one place for a whole week and with another partner in crime who also was doing the challenge for a month. So we pooled costs and ate simply but well.

The official week of Live Below the Line was just fantastic – so nice to be joined but over 10,000 others around the world in this amazing campaign. I was also very fortunate to be doing it out of the Global Poverty Project USA office in New York.

Certainly not the roads I was riding on the West Coast – same sky though!

It is my first time in New York and it is a very distinct place, culture and way of life. I have continued to walk a lot, walking to the office and back at least a 16km round trip and soaking up everything around me with the LBL perspective.

One of the bridges that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan on my walks

There was one major highlight from the week. I had a unique and thrilling opportunity to give a live streamed presentation on Google + Hangouts on Air at the Google office on Thursday going out around the world to anyone tuned in. If you missed it, bad luck (or maybe good luck!), but the filmed Q&A session is available with some great questions and hopefully decent answers –

I will save the next blog for how I ended my Live Below the Line journey as I think it was pretty cool and in totally New York style.

A huge congratulations to all the people who took part in the week and I know they will have received a lot of perspective, insight, reflection and hopefully lots of resolve from the week!

Not very often I get to unpack my bag and use a cupboard… Special moment for the next two weeks moments!


A pound of pre-made cake icing for 25c, did I or didn’t I…?

Day 20

  • 30km ride Bellingham, 8km walk Seattle, Washington State
  • Breakfast: beans and rice on two pieces of toast
  • Lunch: two slices of bread with sunflower butter (like peanut paste) and banana
  • Dinner: trying to get through my rice and refried beans and still going… with amazing corn bread – like a spicy corny cake!

Lots of great chats with lots of people. Being hosted is such a privilege to share lives, perspectives and learn so much! A bit of wonderful NW culture too…

This campaign is about Living Below the Line not Shopping Below the Line. I truly had my ethics, commitment and reasoning tested today when the shop I stumbled upon, Deals Only, was a Live Below the Liner’s dream come true…

For me I believe Live Below the Line is about:

‘Recognising how amazing those who live in extreme poverty are AND how determined I am to do whatever I can so no one lives on less than $1.25 / day.’

I have been very good on this campaign to stick not only to the rules but the ethics of what it is genuinely trying to teach us… When I have not paid for an item of food myself and have received it from a friend I have costed that item – e.g. An egg is about 25c but I didn’t buy 12 eggs and carry them around with me since leaving Portland. I would do $7.50 for 5 days but I can’t carry that much food and walk and ride or maybe even have the facilities to cook it while I am travelling for this trip.

But no matter what I have put in my mouth it has had a cost (except that bloody free beef jerky hand out in Whistler). I have been using the pricing system from my first shop in Portland when I took account of all the prices and what fitted into my budget – see earlier blog:

Everybody I have met has come up with their own unique way of how I can cheat the system and I have to say it is funny how that is the first thought in our heads… ‘How can I do this so I can win’ attitude!

I have been making sure that this challenge, if it is to give me the right perspectives, insights and appreciation have made it not about being a great, resourceful shopper but about how simple my diet must be to replicate as best as possible someone who lives in extreme poverty.

So as I entered the Deals Only shop I had in front of me a smorgasbord of options that I could technically pay for from a shop as is in the Live Below the Line rules but get at a ridiculous prices hence my title to this blog and a pound (500g) squeezy packet of pre-made cake icing for 25c!

Oh boy did I put myself though the mental test in this store though…

  • Well I am buying it from a store and that is the price here…
  • People living in extreme poverty probably sometimes get treats…
  • I have been under budget most days of this trip and I deserve this…

And so on…

In the end I DIDN’T buy and consume a half kilo of icing paste as it was too ridiculous, not to mention unhealthy, for something to cost that little and is not a reflection of the cost of making, transporting, distributing and selling that item – but bugger me did I want it sooo bad… Not to mention the marshmallows that I could have eaten for a days on end!

Two huge packets of marshmallows for $1 - enough calories for days and preservatives for years!

Want to see that even closer…?

Oh yeah baby! Two big bags for $1 you could float on a lake with that many! Writing this hungry now I can’t believe I didn’t (but glad).

In the end I wasn’t as polly-pureheart as all that as I did buy some muffin mix for 25c that will be a bit of a treat and 6 whole-wheat bagels for $1 to last me three days, and they are things I could possibly make myself or around the same price (but never would).

So if you are going to do Live Below the Line – JUST ONE WEEK AWAY then be resourceful with your shopping but remember the objectives of taking on the challenge. For me this is essentially eating very simply within that very low budget, (where you shouldn’t be starving yourself) and not eating whenever or whatever you want.

With ONE WEEK to go sign up to take on the challenge through the Global Poverty Project –