comment by Viliam ·
2020-05-05T00:50:04.678Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
It seems to me that during the quarantine I eat less than usual; either I am deluding myself, or it is a combination of having less physical activity (such as walking to/from job/lunch/shops/playground), being able to eat whenever I want (so there is no pressure to "eat a lot now, because the next opportunity will be 7 hours later"), making less superstimulating food (using less sugar and salt), and having other ways to get some hedons (e.g. taking a nap). Sometimes I cook a soup, and that's most of my daily food.
And soups are really cheap. You take $1-2 worth of ingredients, cook them in water, add little salt and spices; optionally eat with bread. Bread is cheap, salt is cheap, most spices are cheap (per portion), potatoes, broccoli, carrot, onion, and beans are cheap. Most of these things are like $1 per 1kg.
Okay, soups are not super healthy; cooking destroys vitamins. You should also get some fresh fruits and vegetables. Apples, tomatoes, cucumbers are $1-2 per 1 kg. You should definitely be able to eat healthy food for less than $5 a day.
What is expensive? Chocolate and other sweets, cheese, berries, nuts; I probably forgot something. You shouldn't eat sweets; and you can afford the other things now and then even under $5 a day on average. (It is not an optimal diet; some people recommend eating berries and nuts every day. But still healthier than many people eat, including those who spend more money on food.)
On the other hand, we usually spend more than $5 per person per day, even during the quarantine. We spend a lot on sweets and cheese. The tastier ones are even more expensive than the basic ones, which are already more expensive than the actually useful food. Instant gratification -- it's addictive! The more stress I have during the day, the more I need something that will improve my mood instantly, even if it's only for a moment.
Poor people probably have more stress, and thus less willpower to resists things full of sugar and salt. (Also alcohol and tobacco. Okay, the last one is technically not food, but still comes from the same budget.)
Very poor people, e.g. the homeless, don't have the place to cook. So many cheapest things are ironically out of their reach. Not having a fridge is also a problem.
Then, I assume many poor people don't have the good skills and habits. Some of them don't have the necessary IQ, some have mental problems, some had shitty upbringing.