Working in a food business we’re overwhelmed with food and extremely fortunate. We know this, but sometimes it’s easy to take it for granted. But we discovered what it was like to remove these options and choices when we took on the Live #BelowtheLine challenge in aid of Action Against Hunger. Our mission was to live on £1 for one day, so with a team of 6 we had the grand total of £6 for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When you lack cash, you lack choice. And with lack of choice come increased planning, compromise and restriction.
Poring over the bean recipes on the live below the line site we carefully chose what we thought would sustain us for the day. We searched mySupermarket for our best options, calculated the cost of our exact quantities and used our excel skills to ensure compliance with the budget.
The shop presented new challenges too. Blinkers on we walked up and down the aisles, sticking to our list and heading only for the budget lines or the most cost effective options. Tins and weighed fresh produce were the most favourable options and snacks a definite no-no. With choices removed a casual wandering was out of the question and suddenly shopping became a much more sobering and less fun (discovery) session.
In terms of what we ate during the day, we actually all really enjoyed the food. A late lunch of bean burgers and potato wedges tasted sumptuous and our mixed beans and rice for dinner were pretty amazing too – eaten late, slowly and savoured. Spending time to consciously eat food, when you have less is really important – allowing your body to register that you are eating and feel satiated.
What we missed was our tea – mugs of hot water just weren’t the same – but our budget didn’t allow for the nation’s favourite tipple. There was a distinctly subdued atmosphere round our desks and we all quietly got on with our work. And I hate to admit it but I was slightly grumpy and lacking in concentration.
We felt for Simon who had to review a mouth-watering spread of NPD dishes and not eat a crumb. And we had to explain, to well-meaning colleagues, that kitchen freebies kind of defeated the object of our challenge.
Post-work our evening habits were curtailed somewhat; staying late to postpone dinner, abandoning exercise due to hunger and struggling to sleep. We can only imagine that these are choices which people living below the line have to make every day.
Taking part in the live #BelowTheLine challenge certainly shaped our day and gave us pause to think and appreciate how fortunate we are. It generated discussion around the office and gave us an insight into how life can be very different with food (choices) seriously reduced.
If you want to take part in the week-long challenge, check out more here:
Today’s post comes from our newest team member, Marketing Assistant Sarah….
With each year that goes by I try to set myself a new physical challenge that I can have as a goal to train for across a few months of the year. Last year I ran a half marathon (I could barely run 4 miles when I started training!) and this time I face my most demanding activity to date. When the opportunity to climb the three highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in just 24 hours came along, I went for it! You may wonder what an earth drives me to endure these gruelling exercises?
Yes it is about getting fitter and achieving something I hadn’t thought of doing before but it also gives me the opportunity to raise some money for charities needing a little support. This year all donations are going towards Camp Project Wales.
Camp Project Wales is a charity that one of our colleagues is already really involved with. He has organised the challenge and all of us taking part are supporting this one cause. The organisation provides kids from the Halton borough in Liverpool with an action and adventure holiday to Wales. Here, they can build up their self-esteem and confidence through activities such as horse-riding, swimming, canoeing and much more.
Training has been intense. Having joined unearthed® in September the balance between food and exercise was flipped in favour of food and let’s be honest, I was never going to complain about that! This meant that as we entered the New Year, a new regime had to begin. I’ve found myself at Saturday morning Spin classes sporting neon lycra, squatting in circuits and even running up the endless flights of stairs to my flat. Each day I shuffle into work with a muscle I never even knew existed aching from the exercise of the previous day.
So on 18th April (just days away!) with enough Clif bars to feed an army I’ll be bracing myself for the snowy peaks of Ben Nevis. The Three Peaks challenge will begin.
If you fancy sponsoring Sarah and the rest of the team, you can donate to their team donation page.
The awards are being presented on Wednesday 6th May and we thought we’d introduce to you to the trio of judges who, with a wealth of experience, are perfectly placed to pick the winners.
Meet the judges
Nik Powell – In the early 1970’s Nik Powell set up Virgin Records with Richard Branson and in the space of ten years the pair turned a small mail-order record operation into a multi-million pound conglomerate.
- In 1982 Powell went into partnership with Stephen Woolley and together they formed Palace Video, followed by Palace Pictures, and then Palace Productions.
- Nik has acted as Executive Producer on all of Palace’s productions including Neil Jordan’s COMPANY OF WOLVES, OSCAR NOMINATED MONA LISA, Michael Caton-Jones’ SCANDAL, and Neil Jordan’s multi Oscar nominated THE CRYING GAME.
- Nik was appointed Director of the National Film and Television School in 2005, although he remains as non-executive chairman of Scala Productions.
George Motz – Filmmaker, DP, Writer, TV Host and Hamburger Expert
Motz is a well-traveled Emmy award-winning freelance filmmaker and Director of Photography based in New York City. Over the past 23 years he has worked on many television commercials, feature films, music videos, documentaries, and promos.
- In the spring of 2005 Motz completed Hamburger America, his second documentary film which he shot, produced, edited, and directed. The film was nominated in 2006 for a James Beard Foundation Award and won the Audience Choice Award at the 2009 Modesto Film Festival.
- George is also the director of the Food Film Festival, with events in NYC, Chicago, Charleston, Copenhagen and more.
James Winter – James Winter is a BAFTA Award-winning Producer with over 20 years experience making all types of programmes from chat shows to documentaries.
- His work at Cactus has included Richard & Judy, Popelganger, For Your Ears Only, The TV Set and for the past 8 years, Saturday Kitchen Live.
People’s choice, have your say
The category shortlist has been announced and you can get involved by voting for your favourite film, to pick a winner for the People’s Choice Award. Head over to the YouTube page for you to place your vote. Voting closes on 16th April 2015.
Foodism is a little understood condition. It can dominate lives and lead to financial ruin but until 2007 it had never been diagnosed. I know because that very first diagnosis in a small Bristol clinic, three doors down from an excellent Lebanese restaurant, was me.
I first knew I had a problem at the age of 7, on holiday with my parents in Greece. I became sullen when tahini was not available and overly pink taramasalata made me photosensitive. Whole days passed when I was barely able to open my eyes resulting in severe bruising to my shins. I could become aggressive when moustachioed waiters refused to serve me Frappé because I was too young to be drinking coffee. I realise now that I was demonstrating many of the common symptoms of foodism, but back then it was a confusing time for me and for my parents.
Back home in Somerset my condition didn’t improve. I would wait until my parents were asleep and then sneak down the stairs to crack the lid of a new jar of caperberries and eat, guiltily at first, then without control. My parents knew this was going on but were at a loss as to how to deal with it. I have found out since that they spoke to many other parents at the village school about it and were told to “try giving him alphabites”, “stick to soup” or “what is tahini?”. They just didn’t understand.
Fast forward 10 years and I was to be found in India, unclipping my lunchtime tiffin box. Every day a different selection, each layer of the metal tower a new culinary experience waiting to be discovered. My travelling years were a happy time for me but it couldn’t last forever.
Before the diagnosis things had reached a real low. My Wagyu habit had bankrupted me and in order to bring some money in I had become involved in an illegal high-strength tahini smuggling gang. Knowing that it was the condition that was behind my behaviour and being given some clear methods to cope with it started the positive change in my life. I decided that it was time for me to take control….
People with Foodism will understand me when I say that feeling misunderstood is one of the most crippling results of the condition. I was frequently insulted and ostracised for my habit of requesting a mint tea as the last drink of the night and literally no-one would cook stifado for me. We’ve come a long way since then and I’m sure this would not happen today, but we still have strides to make and that is why I have decided to make my Foodism public.
The year after my diagnosis, at the hands of the wonderful psychologist Dr Pasmethasalt, in 2008 I founded the food brand unearthed® principally as a coping mechanism for my Foodism. My thinking was that endlessly launching incredibly obscure foods would help improve my life in two important ways. It would give me a limitless source of strange foods and it would allow me to mix with others living with the condition.
If you’d like to know more about Foodism, how to live with the condition or how to support those living with it, please contact me directly on Twitter @unearthedsimon.
thanks for reading, Simon