In the news recently, Jackie Speier (D-Ca) of the 12th Congressional District, along with several of her brethren, decided to take a five-day challenge and subsist on $4.50 per day, the equivalent Food Stamp subsidy for an individual. Ms. Speier, who survived the horrendous event at Jonestown, Guayana, admitted that during the test, she was constantly thinking about food, and often hungry between the modest meals. Her experience reinforced a need to increase the Food Stamp allocation, not decrease the amount on the backs of hungry Americans in order to balance the Federal budget, as Congress has suggested.
This started me thinking about my own excesses. I spend exactly $13.95 each week on a bag of whole bean coffee, an addiction that certainly doesn’t merit the urgency of nutritional need. Over a thirteen-week period, which constitutes one financial quarter, I am guaranteed to spend $181.35 on my chemical dependency. I know, it’s a far cry from oxycontin or heroin, but seems to garner a lot of attention in the media when coffee prices increase in the world marketplace, or when poor coffee farmers are cheated out of profits, or when supermarkets misrepresent their Kona blends, which contain little or no true Kona coffee.
I began my own challenge, in honor of Jackie Speier’s five-day semi-fast. I decided to forego coffee. It made sense; I can purchase 200 packets of black tea for about the same price as a bag of my favorite whole bean coffee, which theoretically will last for 200 days, replacing my caffeine intake with a kinder, gentler mode of chemical delivery.
I am embarrassed to admit that my challenge lasted five hours, not five days. Although I escaped a pounding headache, which is the classic caffeine withdrawal, I lacked the overall sensation of physical well-being coffee seems to chemically impart. I couldn’t wait too get home so I could chug down a cup of that expensive brew.
Of course, I can justify spending $181.25 per quarter on whole bean coffee. Aside from ensuring my emotional and physical welfare, coffee seems to offer protection to adults in delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Research tying coffee drinking to skin cancer rates, suggests that coffee drinkers are protected from more severe forms of melanoma. Further, a recent study also indicates that women who consume black coffee enjoy some protection from endometrial cancer. Whether it’s chemical pleasure or clinical success, there’s no doubt that coffee, like its cousin, dark chocolate, is vital to the human immune system.
So, while I sit in the sun to allow my body its function of making Vitamin D, I will drink coffee to see to it that I don’t contract the melanoma that killed my paternal grandmother, Eve. Vitamin D and dark chocolate will reinforce my immune system, and coffee will keep me happy. Is that really such a huge price to pay?