Struggle Food

A particularly obnoxious “hun” I know likes to wealth shame the rest of us by calling us “dollar menu” eaters. She’s trying to neg us all into joining her downline but my only question is ever: why is the dollar menu bad? I’m not a big fast food eater, as an adult, but a trip to McD’s was a huge treat growing up. I used to prank my illiterate grandmother by asking her to order things that didn’t exist. She totally knew what I was doing, and played along, because she was a saint. So, despite the odd twinge of guilt, I have mostly fond associations.

When you’re poor enough, though, everywhere you go is a food desert. Michelle Obama’s “all problems can be solved with gardening” approach is sweet, but easily dismissed by anyone who’s actually tried to survive that way. Right now, 38% of residents in my state are food insecure and it’s not because they’re averse to growing vegetables.

Moreover, none of these people are lazy, or uninterested in their health, or stupid. They don’t need the gospel of BeachBody, or any other for profit scheme. Fat shaming, health shaming, and every other kind of shaming is stupid to begin with but trying to exploit peoples’ insecurities during a pandemic? Seeing this, I’m embarrassed to be a capitalist.

You don’t need to “learn something” right now. You’re already learning something, and that’s how to survive during a crisis. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not working out, with not learning five new languages while you write the great American novel, or indeed with sampling the dollar menu. I don’t know when we started using poverty as an insult but you’re doing the right thing when you’re doing the right thing for you.

Investing in yourself isn’t spending money on yourself, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. Don’t let them. Instead, question why someone so morally bankrupt is in your life. Their “opportunity” is clearly using you. Because believe me: if they actually cared about you, they’d be feeding you for free.

I don’t care about anybody, but here’s my struggle bread recipe:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or half of one stick)
  • 12 oz of beer (I use Guinness)

Mix everything together, pour it into a loaf pan, and bake it for 50 minutes at 350F.

This is an extremely simple recipe. I grew up eating this, and similar baked goods. I went to bed hungry often enough that weaponizing phrases like “dollar menu” and other coded terms for “poor” will always send me into paroxysms of rage. Now, maybe I’m missing out on the myriad delights of overpriced protein powder but I’ve always been proud of the fact that I can make a meal out of almost anything. Before Chopped, there were food pantries.

A note: Guinness gives a lovely, slightly nutty, slightly sweet flavor that pairs really well with almost anything. But use, say, Blue Moon and orange blossom honey and you’ll get a completely different experience. Just don’t, and I mean don’t, use light beer. Your bread won’t rise.

Another note: you’re probably already crafting your comments, MLMers, explaining to me in lurid detail how I’m putting you down, making you feel bad about yourself, uneducated, and whatever else. You really shouldn’t bother, though; pro-MLM comments won’t be approved.

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