the cookbook phenomenon changing budget eating

the cookbook phenomenon changing budget eating

Leanne Brown thought small at first when writing her cookbook “Good and Cheap.” An avid cook, she wanted the free downloadable collection of recipes, tips and techniques a thesis project for her master’s degree in food studies to help people on super tight budgets eat great meals at home. Targeting people on food stamp budgets around $4 per day, “I thought it would be a little project that would be useful to a few people,” she said.

Instead, it went viral. Brown’s crowdsourced campaign to donate printed copies of the book to people in need became the most funded cookbook in Kickstarter history. The book received a prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals award, and printed copies are now being distributed by Workman Publishing, which donates a copy for each one that’s purchased. It hit The New York Times best seller list last month. Free or heavily discounted copies are available at nearly 800 food banks and other nonprofits in 49 states (Wyoming is the only one missing) and in Canada. receive monthly Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits. 9. Wednesday, Sept.

I’ve always been attracted to issues of justice In graduate school, we were having these big conversations about huge issues, sticky difficult problems, and so often at the end of it you find yourself saying “We don’t have the solution that will fix everything, so what are we going to do?” Knowing what I know about cooking, I felt there was a little bit of hope and a little bit of help in trying to share some foods that actually can be had for very little. One amazing thing about living in America is, unless you live in a particularly food poor place, a place without grocery stores, the availability of food is pretty amazing and food is incredibly cheap It’s the cooking that adds the value.

How did the cookbook turn into something more than an online download?

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I came home from work one day and I had 10 zillion emails, all from my website. At this point I was pretty sure my dad had been to my website 20 times, but that was it. I got super nervous. It turned out someone had posted it on Reddit. I had this panicked moment of, “Is this some super conservative blog, are people angry?” but it turned out it was all these people saying how helpful it was for them. People were having this incredible conversation online, writing to me saying how useful this was, how helpful it was to a lot of them personally, and sharing stories about growing up with a single parent or grandparent to take care of them, and remembering how their family struggled, but they got by because someone knew how to cook. For me cooking and food has a natural language. I want recipes that teach you why you’re doing the thing you’re doing, so at the end of it you know how to make a quiche, you’re not just following the recipe and at the end of it you’ve made “Leanne Brown’s quiche.” That’s empowering. You can go to the grocery store and say, that’s on sale, I’ll swap that ingredient out you can make things out of what you have around.

How can people on such a tight budget find the time to cook nutritious meals, especially if they’re facing all the other barriers that come with poverty?

Cooking from scratch has this hilarious sort of [reputation] that it means taking a lot of time. It really just means cooking cheap jerseys from basic ingredients, and often that’s as simple as chopping up some broccoli and mincing it with a little garlic and tossing it in a pan with butter and putting it on toast. That takes 10 minutes. You still made that from scratch, man, it’s great.

What are some of the most rewarding results you’ve seen from the project?

Brenda is this wonderful woman I met, she wrote to me during the Kickstarter last summer. She’s a grandmother, a full care provider for her two daughters she’s adopted these very young children, they’re 8 and 10. It was really tough to get through the month, and they’d find themselves going to the food pantry at the end of the month. She’d become concerned. The pantry turned out to be a lot of processed foods, sugary foods. It wasn’t the kind of things she wanted to feed to her growing children, but she didn’t have any choice. She had just started to plant a garden.

[Recently] she gave me an update on the girls and everything going on then at the end she just casually mentioned this incredible thing. She said, “We haven’t had to go to the food pantry in months now, we’re doing really well. We’re eating more beans and less meat, and I’m more satisfied with nutrient dense food,” and then she was like, “And I’ve also lost 40 pounds and I’m off my cholesterol medication and my diabetes medicine and we’re all doing wonderfully.” I just cried for like 20 minutes.

Do you have a personal favorite recipe from the cookbook, or is there one that has resonated the most with users?

I eat stuff from the book all the time. I eat the kale salad every week, I eat tomato scrambled eggs constantly. The chana masala recipe is one of my old favorites, and one that so many of my friends have said is their comfort food. The peanut butter and jelly bars are something I hear talked about all the time, which is really cool. I came up with them thinking, “I certainly don’t want anyone to have to go to a food pantry, but it’s reality for a lot of folks, it’s still going to happen, and every food pantry has peanut butter and jelly and oats. Most of the time people are going to make peanut butter sandwiches and have oatmeal, but people get sick of those things. How can we remake this? There’s something about making a very, very simple recipe that people use a lot that’s the ultimate in satisfaction. What an honor that something I made is part of people’s life on a regular basis.