Gwyneth and the Attack of the Condescending Hunger Limes

As part of the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, celebrity chef Mario Batali recently gave Gwyneth Paltrow  the task of  feeding her family for one week on only $29 per person- equivalent to someone living on SNAP benefits (aka Food Stamps.) The picture above shows the choices she made.

How noble! How brave! Ms. Paltrow and her fans seem on the verge of breaking their arms in the process of patting her heartily on the back.  She’s bringing attention to a good cause! She’s empathizing until it hurts!

Yeah, only she isn’t. The reason it’s cute and fun and easy for rich white people to “empathize” with the problems of the unwashed, multi-colored masses is because for them it’s a frolicking little  lark that brings them good press. Empathizing through imitation doesn’t work if you truly have nothing at stake.

Let us examine what Gwynie has risked here. She’s a wealthy white actress, which means that she’s used to starving herself to snag roles. The amount of food she bought with her limited budget is probably more than she eats anyway.  Secondly, she faces none of the myriad adjacent problems a mother living on SNAP would tend to face. She doesn’t work 8 or 10 hours a day, then have to ride the bus or drive an unreliable car (fueled with three dollars worth of gas and a prayer). She doesn’t have to brave walking into a market in a bad neighborhood late at night- IF one is even open when she gets home, IF they even have food worth buying, not that most crappy neighborhoods have any other options available. She doesn’t then have to come home exhausted to a hungry family who would probably laugh when presented with her twee food choices.

Thus the experiment fails before it even begins. It doesn’t give Ms. Paltrow or anyone else an even remotely true idea of what it’s like to scramble to survive. It gives them an interesting anecdote they can drag out at cocktail parties to make themselves sound liberal and caring. A family actually using SNAP will likely continue to be on assistance for years, their patience and pride ground down to a fine powdery substance, while also living in constant fear of suddenly making a few dollars too many and having those benefits taken away. Ms. Paltrow, on the other hand, will immediately go back to buying $500 ugly sneakers and $6,500 spring jackets. The struggle is real, yo.

I started to think I might be judging her too harshly. After all, her heart is probably in the right place, even if the execution makes her come off as a condescending elitist airhead. But then I saw the photo of what her $29 purchased. I’m going to put aside how crazily expensive fresh produce is in most places (I know at my local grocery store, that one avocado alone would take a big chunk out of the budget) or how quickly fresh foods tend to go bad. I’m not going to laugh at the idea that her choices are somehow enough to make sustaining, filling meals for a person for seven days.

No. I’m simply going to take a moment here to bask in the limes. I can’t even count to that many limes. Maybe she has a secret stash of tequila and figures she’ll just survive on margaritas all week? That’s what Mexicans and other poor people do anyway, isn’t it? I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Gwyneth, you truly understand the problems of the common man. (#Mexicansandotherpoorpeople #holyfuckinglimesBatman #thestruggleisreal).



7 thoughts on “Gwyneth and the Attack of the Condescending Hunger Limes

  1. Her demonstration has been nagging at me for a couple days now. I’m really put off by this. Feeding her whole family for a week. With this. It makes no sense. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for children for a week. With an ear of corn and one avocado. Two kids, one egg each, breakfast, seven days. That’s 14 eggs. So, Gwyn doesn’t get any eggs? Or are they going to have lime juice for breakfast on Tuesday and Thursday?

    Growing up poor, the quality of our food was not great. Fresh produce was expensive and didn’t get used up. That’s just the reality of it. Frozen and canned food was a purchase priority. Oatmeal was cheap and powdered milk was a pantry staple. What Gwyn has bought doesn’t look like a family’s shopping for a week. It looks like ingredients for one of her recipes. And she is unrealistically expecting that a family can eat this for seven whole days. It is insanity. A dose of reality would be a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and a loaf of bread. Those three ingredients kept me alive in elementary school.

    I live where Mexican food is king. But still, seven limes? That would cost me a huge chunk of my budget. It would not happen.

    • EXACTLY! That’s what I thought too- it looks just like one of the prettily designed recipes on her site. Which is great. I’m all for being able to eat lovely, nutritious, fresh foods when you can. But there’s something so gross and insulting to me about playing at pretend hardships, especially when her choices are this delusional. And YES. For us it was cheese sandwiches. Toasted bread, melty cheese, that was life itself. If we had some tomato slices to go with it, I felt like I was queen of the world. I somehow doubt Gwynie has a clue how much toilet paper or anything else costs.

      • Tom suggested that a family on assistance for food may be able to qualify for free meals at school for the kids. But that doesn’t help during summer and other vacations. Also, it is a fact of life that kids in general have underdeveloped appreciation for many foods. If you know you need to get food in their bellies and you’re working with a child’s tastes, there are going to be frozen chicken nuggets, Campbell’s soup, cereal, and other kid-friendly food. How wonderful that some kids like kale, but fish sticks were my jam.

  2. One more comment and then I’ll leave it alone. I wonder if Gwyn has ever bought store brand coffee and toilet paper. No? Well, I hope she lets me know when she does so that she can re-evaluate the purchase of seven limes with SNAP money.

  3. I heard about this and then like yesterday I heard she already cheated and ate chicken not sure if that is true. I just can’t stand her the only reason she’s even in movies is because of her mommy! Ahhh don’t you just love nepotism.

  4. Its not that hard to maintain her size 000 when one of her meals every day is a lime and almost everything else looks like it could be part of a “cleanse” diet.

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