The Hunger Challenge Day 3–How I Sacrificed Food for The Food Babe

*This is a previous post from my old blog

Nothing ever goes as planned with me. When I realized Tuesday night that The Food Babe, a food activist and blogger, was to be speaking at the Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa the next day, I dropped everything to see her.
Well, not quite. I was hesitant whether I’d go at all.

Colorful Melons at The National Heirloom Exposition
I was, after all, in the middle of the Hunger Challenge and both my boyfriend Mando and I depended on me for all of our snacks and meals. I was pretty much making all of our food from scratch and we were running out of the food I had prepared for the week. Also, I’d miss the Farmers Market where I was going to spend the $3.63 I found in our budget as well as get one or two more pantry items as well.
I had to consider this and my boyfriend Mando. This isn’t to say my boyfriend is helpless. He’s very much the opposite, in fact. He’s also an extremely busy person and helps with our meals as much as he can. With Grad school as well as a full time job in five different libraries in the Burlingame school district, he gets my praise and award for most bad-ass Librarian. He is also the one who pushed me to go see Vani, The Food Babe. He made me realize I would regret it if I didn’t go. He didn’t complain about the lack of food in the house and even had snacks waiting for me when I got home from my whirlwind of a day.
Once Mando gave me the push I needed to go, I packed a quick lunch, scraped together $5 for the bridge and hit the road.
Lunch on the road to see The Food Babe. It wasn’t much but I didn’t care–too excited!
It turned out that $5 I had was more like $4.75 and some pennies. Maybe ten pennies. Then ten more as I dug through my car for change. All the while I was holding up cars at the toll. The toll collector hated me, of course. She didn’t tell me she hated me, she didn’t need to. I could feel it. She just held out both hands in amazement and disgust. Almost like it had never happened to her before. But it has to have happened to her before…right? To make it worse I’m pretty sure I gave her at least one Euro and one very dirty penny. I do not condone my own behavior. I have been a commuter in the past and paid bridge tolls many times. I have hated people for what I did. I have cursed them, shaken my fists at them in fury and blamed them for my constant tardiness. But I was on a mission.
I thought that my mission would be interrupted for a second time when I finally arrived at the Sonoma Country Fairgrounds and saw that it was $6 for parking. I didn’t have that many pennies. Luckily, I found a spot right away under the freeway and avoided paid parking.
At the gate I asked a young ticket collector where the Food Babe might be speaking.
“What? Who? Food baby?”
We both laughed.
He pointed to a stack of programs with brightly colored peppers donning the front and told me this was where I could find out where she was speaking.
A variety of gourds displayed at The National Heirloom Exposition
I found The Food Babe in Finely Hall for her speech on How Your Voice Can Change the Food System and got there just in time to hear the beginning of her story. How she was overworking herself and was overweight, sick and tired. How she started her blog and stopped temporarily to take care of her Dad when he got cancer. How she started back up again and began fighting food companies who are poisoning our foods with chemicals such as Chick-fil-A, Kraft and Subway. She was so passionate and inspiring. She talked about how the most important thing to do to change our food system is to share our story and be fearless when people attack you for your choices. She reaffirmed for me what it is I’m doing with this blog and why I’m doing it. It made my think of my Dad and why it’s so important for me to share his story and my story.

The amazing gourd display at the Heirloom Expo.
After she spoke I stuck around to see if I could meet her and take a picture with her. It didn’t seem like there were many people to see her speak but the small crowd that formed around her afterwards was quite the strong mini-clan. I hung back a bit as people told her their stories, hugged her and snapped photos with their iPhones. I signed my name on a passing clipboard in support of a letter to President Obama asking him to give food GMO labeling. What happened next could only happen to me. If Mando were there he would’ve pushed me to the front to say hello to Vani, gush over her and I’d get my picture. He’s just that way. But I was solo so I ended up volunteering for the Truth In Labeling Coalition, collecting signatures for the remainder of my time there. I’m not really sure how it happened–it all happened so fast. I was happy to do it, though. After all, isn’t what this what it was all about? Isn’t this the reason I was here? As the leader of the coalition found me stuck with her clipboard, much like the person who always gets stuck holding the door open for more people than they ever plan to at a restaurant, she talked me into collecting signatures for the cause. Meanwhile, The Food Babe slipped out the side door to her next happening. I was OK with it though. Did I really need a picture? I was happy to hear her speak and felt that maybe this was a sign. I thought back to what Vani said just moments earlier about how she and her husband gave up their careers to become food advocates because they believed that it was their life’s purpose. I realized then I needed to do more in my own life to dedicate myself to this same purpose and find more ways to become involved. I took this time to walk around and enjoy the Expo. I collected signatures and drooled over all the food I couldn’t eat and checked out some organic seeds and the beautiful gourd displays.
But in many ways I felt like a different person as I walked past the sliced watermelon and piled gourds. This Hunger Challenge has led me to question a lot of things and think about food in a different light. I wondered if anyone knew it was Hunger Month and what they’d do with all that displayed food afterward.

The organic seed vendor I perused at the Heirloom Exposition

Beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes at the Expo.

I just wish I had had more time there and money in my budget to try the food. It was pure torture passing by all of the delicious organic food vendors. But it only made me appreciate my food that much more and I’m now really learning how precious every dollar is. As I left that evening, I heard a woman offering $1 bags of organic pistachios, my absolute favorite, but I couldn’t get them. Even though they were the cheapest organic pistachios I’d ever seen, I had to walk past them because I couldn’t justify spending 27% of my budget on a snack. This was a harsh realization.

One of my favorite inventions at the Expo-Compost Tea Kit used to put compost directly into your plants soil.
I returned home after my day at the expo. and had a glass of wine as I replayed to Mando everything about my exciting day and what I had learned, good and bad. Soon after, I was so exhausted from the whole experience that I feel asleep and skipped dinner. This was good for my budget but bad for my belly.
Here’s what what we ate:

Day 3–


Oatmeal w/ Raisins
Coffee, one cup
Granola Bar
Leftover curry fries and rice mixed with veggies
Roit w/ hummus, carrots, zucchini & beans

2 Granola Bars
Coffee, one cup

Roti w/hummus
2 Roti stuffed w/ white beans, homemade hummus, tomatoes and a little hot sauce on top
2 Granola Bars
One Glass of Wine
It was totally worth it!I feel incredibly inspired and excited after hearing Vani, The Food Babe speak. Here’s a powerful message from Vani on food advocacy!

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