Gwyneth Paltrow caused a stir last week by accepting the challenge posed to her by Mario Batali to live for a week on $29 worth of food. The challenge was intended to bring awareness to the limited budgets of those living on SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. Paltrow’s acceptance wasn’t the issue — the controversy came when she tweeted a picture of her grocery basket.
This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store—what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week. pic.twitter.com/OZMPA3nxij
— Gwyneth Paltrow (@GwynethPaltrow) April 9, 2015
Critics said the basket showed that Paltrow was out of touch by her choice of gourmet food. The Frisky noted that Paltrow’s basket, intended to last her a week, totaled only 7,059 calories, or roughly 1,000 a day. The Washington Postsaid it was clear that, unlike many Americans, Gwyneth does not live in a “food desert,” with no access to healthy food.
Paltrow has responded to her critics today with a post on her lifestyle blog, GOOP. She admitted that she lasted only four days on the challenge. She also defended her choice of items that went into her grocery bag.
“As I suspected, we only made it through about four days, when I personally broke and had some chicken and fresh vegetables (and in full transparency, half a bag of black licorice). My perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days—a challenge that 47 million Americans face every day, week, and year.
I’m not suggesting everyone eat organic food from some high horse in the sky. I’m saying everyone should be able to afford fresh, real food.”
Paltrow went on to advocate for equal pay regardless of gender, singling out Patricia Aquette for her comments on the issue. Gwyneth argued that equal pay for women would go a long way to alleviating poverty and spoke critically of the food system.
“[M]any hardworking mothers are being asked to do the impossible: Feed their families on a budget which can only support food businesses that provide low-quality food. The food system in our beautiful country needs to be subjected to a heavy revision—it is a cyclical problem, with repercussions that we all feel.”
She concluded her post with a few recipes that included ingredients from her basket, including Black Bean Taquitos, Black Bean Cakes with Grilled Corn Salsa, and Brown Rice, Kale and Roasted Sweet Potato Saute with Poached Eggs.
The criticism for Paltrow was not universal, however. Time writer Daniel D’Addario credited the actress for standing up and taking on the challenge to bring light to an issue few in her industry ever do. He also defended her basket, saying it’s entirely possible people reliant on food stamps “might want flavorful, interesting food like salsa (made from that cilantro and those limes) as a meager addition to healthful staples.” He called the controversy a missed opportunity.
“There’s an opportunity for a real conversation about how America treats its poor — but it’s wasted by telling a Hollywood actress that next time she tries to raise awareness, she should get more dried beans.”
[Gwyneth Paltrow image courtesy of Getty]