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Gwyneth Paltrow Doesn’t Know How To Shop For Food On A Budget

Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t know much about Federal food stamps. She’s confused about how much families get from it and whether they should buy 7 limes a week.


One of my favorite cookbooks, “It’s All Good,” is — believe it or not — written by Gwyneth Paltrow. Actually, it says it’s written by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen. Turshen, the personal chef, is undoubtedly responsible for the recipes. Paltrow is responsible for some absolutely hilarious lines. My favorite is:

My beautiful daughter, Apple, is obsessed with mashed potatoes. She asks for them every day. As white potatoes are a nightshade (causing inflammation) and showed up as a no-no on her food sensitivity test, I devised this mash as an alternative. It’s really good.

The jacket of the book breathlessly explains the origins of the book:

A year ago Paltrow nearly passed out from too much work, too much stress, and maybe a bit too much over-indulging. Her doctor told her she was anemic, Vitamin D-deficient, and her adrenal levels were too high.

The introduction begins:

On Cooking, Panic Attacks, and Somatization*

One sunny afternoon in London, in the spring of 2011, I thought — without sounding overly dramatic — that I was going to die.

*The unfortunate art of turning unexpressed emotion into physical symptoms.

I mean, come on! This is pure comedy gold.

The recipes are good, healthy, and frequently quite inexpensive to prepare. I’m pretty sure that’s all Julia Turshen because Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t seem to have good food skills. Or at least that’s what I’m thinking if this recent tweet is any indication:

Oh where to begin?

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s one of many food assistance programs run by the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service, which is but one of the agencies that provides food assistance. The Government Accountability Office reviewed 18 of the more than 18 food programs run by the federal government and found waste, inefficiency and fraud throughout SNAP and other programs. Taxpayers spend $74.1 billion on SNAP benefits. One of the problems the Government Accountability Office identified in federal administration of the programs was significant overlap between SNAP and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), among others.

As the name suggests, though, this is one of the taxpayer-funded benefits provided to low-income Americans to supplement their food budgets. So it’s not exactly what most beneficiaries “have to live on for a week.”

Also, Gwyneth Paltrow’s calculations appear to be off. From the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program web site, we see the following information:

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 2.59.36 AM

So a family of four could get $649 a month in supplemental assistance. I’m in a family of four and I routinely feed everyone for less than that amount and we’re not even doing serious cost-saving measures.

But let’s say that you had only $29 a week to live on, would you be making guacamole? Really? What in the world are all those limes for? Cilantro? Cilantro?

I’m going to go ahead an quote my colleague Sean Davis, as he put his criticisms well:

There were times when my family was poor and there have been times when I’ve been unemployed for serious stretches. It’s not fun for money to be the most serious factor in deciding what you’ll be eating on a given day. That’s the daily, unending plight of huge numbers of humans across the globe. It would be nice if rather than pay homage to $74 billion government programs, we simply cared more about the people in our community who could use advice on how to stretch a food budget or address obstacles to overcoming reliance. One thing we know about SNAP is that single parents are more likely to be beneficiaries. That’s because intact families are a great economic bulwark in times of trouble. Something tells me there won’t be a celebrity campaign devoted to the importance of permanent coupling over decoupling.

These celebrity challenges do little other than help the image of the celebrity. They misidentify the actual benefits of food assistance programs, downplay the waste and mismanagement within the programs, and give absolutely horrible advice about how to eat on a budget. And that’s not all good. It’s pretty much all bad.