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First, I am humbled and grateful for the support and donations for my Live Below the Line Campaign. To date, I have exceeded my goal and have raised $42,119 for Heifer International. Thank you to all who made that possible! 

Live #BelowtheLine Groceries
Five days of groceries prepped and ready to be packed.

I knew I would be traveling during LBL week this year, so I was glad to have last year’s experience behind me to help me prepare. I decided on a fairly straightforward menu consisting mostly of rice and either beans or lentils, eggs and bananas. I shopped, cooked and packed my meals the weekend before and averaged $1.48 and 1,300 calories per day. 

Shopping is always the first sobering step. I bought:
One pound of lentils $1.89
One pound of brown rice $1.39
One pound of beans $ 1.79
5 eggs at $0.15 each $0.75
5 bananas at $0.25 each $1.25
Caffeine pills 5 $0.35
Total. $7.42 

HeiferCEO #BelowtheLine
Yes! I was hungry. This was waiting for me in my hotel room the first night.

I ate the bulk of my food at breakfast, fueling up for the day ahead. Last year I was told that in some of the countries where Heifer works, this is exactly the approach smallholder farmers take. In others, they start the day hungry and recharge with their heaviest meal at the end of the day.

One of the hardest parts for me was being almost constantly surrounded by food, or reminders of food. I spent most of the week in Washington, D.C., for board meetings, complete with buffet lunches and dinners out. Committed to the challenge, I took my meals along with me, though I will admit to being tempted now and then.

HeiferCEO #BelowtheLine
My last banana was rotten, so this was all I ate on Day 5.

My biggest mistake was somehow miscalculating my portions, so breakfast on Day 5 was my final meal, when my food should have lasted me through dinner. The reality that this most certainly happens all the time for people how truly live below the extreme poverty line hit home for sure.

While I was never even near starvation, of course, I experienced the mental haze that comes with eating too little. It wasn’t just difficult to concentrate; it was hard to think of anything other than food and eating, especially on my last day when I knew I was very short on food.

There is a great article in Harvard Magazine this month about Harvard professor of economics, Sendhil Mullainathan, and his work exploring how scarcity affects the mind. It’s quite timely and relevant, and I hope you will read it. 

Again, thank you so much for supporting my Live Below the Line campaign this year. I appreciate it beyond words. And if you haven’t had the chance to give, I’m happy to keep going beyond my goal. Fundraising is open through June 30!

Author

Pierre Ferrari

Pierre Ferrari is president and CEO of Heifer International. Pierre is very passionate about empowering the families and communities with whom Heifer works: “It took me decades, but I have come to know that the only way to happiness and joy is to be of service to others.” Pierre’s other joys are his wife, Kim, his two sons and two stepdaughters. In his free time he enjoys golf, squash, reading and travel.