Living below the Line

One cup of oatmeal. Two slices of bread. Two hard boiled eggs. One potato. A couple of carrots for some colour. This is my daily diet this week. Oh, and every second day I can have a small apple.


Living below the Line is living off the equivalent of $1.75/day worth of food in Canadian dollars, comparable to what people in an average village in Africa would have to spend. This week, I have taken on this challenge.

To support me, and more importantly to support Bucece, a village committed to social and economic development, donate here:

Bucece has a population of 517. Currently, the only feasible way for most villagers to get to town is by dugout canoe across lake Mutanda. While this is the most direct route, it is also the most dangerous due to poor canoes and strong winds.

Nonetheless, Villagers need to make this journey to sell their produce at the market, access health care, education, and generate enough income to survive.

Every year, this dangerous route results in numerous drownings. The money raised goes towards developing and establishing a boat cooperative to ensure villagers a safer way to cross the lake without the high risk of drowning. In addition, the money raised will aid in providing villagers with agricultural tools and training, providing villagers with goats and appropriate training to operate a goat cooperative for additional income and protein, and protecting existing water sources to reduce the rate of disease.

This has been a very humbling and provocative week for me.

While I am surviving, I definitely am not thriving. By the end of each day I feel sort of sad. I have joked numerous times that I have don’t even have enough energy to pull up my own bootstraps.

While the kinds of food I bought can be stretched over the week, allowing me to live within the $1.75/day limit, it doesn’t provide any meaningful nutrition.

Living without nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, and proteins accumulates into sluggishness in the short term and illness in the long term.

I know how grateful I should feel to live a community of abundance here in Edmonton. I also know how many of our neighbours in Edmonton struggle with food security and illnesses derived from poor nutrition.

I have a couple of simple reflections about this week. One, is that I am very lucky to be able to eat whenever I feel like it. I need to want less, and not more, when it comes to food. A second reflection is that I need to live more intentionally when it comes to not wasting food. We need to strive to buy only what we need to be healthy and happy.

I remember food writer Robert Pollin saying, “Eat food, not very much, mostly plants.” I would tag on “add garlic and sea salt sprinkled with dark chocolate,” but maybe that’s my hunger talking.