Monday, March 3, 2014

Foodlandia

For those not in the know and curious, my diet is supplied almost entirely by free meals; "There but for the grace of God," and all that jazz. I suspect when people think about the homeless dining experience many of them still hold images in their minds of black-and-white photos taken during the Great Depression of blocks-long lines of men in tattered and faded garb winding their way up to a giant pot of soup doled out in metal ups; or perhaps Oliver Twist springs immediately to mind, with his audacious request for more gruel from the scowling orphanage worker; then again, I bet some people aren't even aware that there is free food given out on the streets and just assume we all root around in dumpsters or panhandle money for fast food. Alas, I don't go around asking people, nor is this sort of information typically volunteered in casual conversations between strangers.

If you're interested, though, I've taken it upon myself in the past week to quantify my dietary intake in a spreadsheet on Google Drive. (Since I'm not feeling well, however, it may not be complete until sometime Tuesday. Indeed, the blog may also not get updated until then.). I don't know first-hand how it is in other cities in the U.S. but not only does free food abound in the City of Roses, it's often far above and beyond the Rapunzel rations typically expected by those unacquainted with the city's offerings; pesto chicken and spicy Mexican casseroles are two of my favorite examples. Of course, for every nice risotto or stroganoff there's two or three baloney sandwiches and tuna casseroles; you have to know who serves what you like when, in other words being the chooser that beggars are supposed to not aspire to. So much free food is available here, in fact, that I and others among my peers shake our heads in incredulity at the Road Warrior kids whenever we pass by them and their panhandling signs claiming to be hungry; except during the night a meal is seldom more than four hours and ten blocks away. Unfortunately most of even the more gastronomically sophisticated and palatable stuff is made from processed ingredients, so it's not the most healthy fare in terms of vitamins and minerals and such health-jeopardizing elements as fats and sodium and cholesterol; in particular are lacking fresh fruits and vegetables. While it's certainly a poor candidate for the next diet fad, it keeps us alive and even tastes delicious much of the time, so I'd be a fool to be ungrateful. But, I'm still buying some multi-vitamins as soon as I can afford to.

So, I'm certainly not starving to death, and even if I am malnourished it's probably not severely. Eventually I'll use cash to augment the diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, and perhaps also fresh garlic and ginger and peppers to boost my immune and circulatory systems. Unfortunately, though, I'm finding that as I approach forty my legs are starting to cause me problems, most likely due to my flat feet and one leg being slightly longer than the other. Thanks to the orthotics I bought some time ago my feet don't hurt nearly as much or often as they used to even when I didn't walk much, but the shin splints have returned with a vengeance and apparently I now have bursitis in the hips and am stressing my knees to the point where I've started walking with a slight limp in the left leg pretty regularly. Carrying that damn backpack around every day isn't helping, of course, even if it's only a little over twenty pounds in weight (compared to the thirty it was before I got the locker at the Friendly House). Breathing vehicle exhaust while sleeping at night is probably also causing me some damage. As tempted as I am to attempt to learn how to live entirely off the grid, I know that I'm getting too old for this vagrant lifestyle and eagerly await to move back into housing.

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