Pret-a-Reporter

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Food Stamp Challenge Goes Bust With $80 Dinner at Animal

The Goop founder and actress went from supposedly eating on $29 a week to an $80-per-plate celeb dinner at the popular high-end L.A. spot.

In a case of no good deed going unpunished, Gwyneth Paltrow has punctuated her recent food stamp challenge in which she and her family attempted a week of survival on just $29 worth of food -- the same weekly amount given by the USDA to families on their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- with a bit of a splurge. The ruiner of the experiment? An $80-per-plate barbecue feast at popular L.A. restaurant Animal. Of course Goop critics are loving this turn of events.

But while it does seem a bit insensitive to rally attention toward the government’s food-stamp program, which is currently under fire in Missouri and Kansas, and then cozy up to David and Victoria Beckham, Jon Favreau, Jimmy Kimmel and boyfriend Brad Falchuk for dinner at a top L.A. restaurant, we do applaud Paltrow’s efforts.

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On April 9 she posted that she was “walking in their shoes to see how far we get.” As much as she may have tried, she a little misguided based off what she actually bought at a grocery store for $29 in the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, which she shared in an Instagram last week. The spoils of her shopping trip included a dozen eggs, tortillas, dry black beans, brown rice, an ear of corn and a sweet potato. They also included cilantro, seven limes, an avocado and a tomato. It appears as though Paltrow was planning a vegetarian Mexican feast, perhaps featuring guacamole and margaritas.

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We all remember our college days, when we subsisted on Easy Mac, or peanut butter on white bread. Or those times we didn’t spend our paycheck wisely and ended up eating ramen for a week. So the fact that Paltrow’s idea of stretching $29 is buying fresh produce and herbs is interesting. If faced with $29 for a whole week, we would head straight to the dollar store for a slew of $1 items that would actually last seven days — greens included. 

But her choices bring up another problem: the hardship of finding healthy, affordable food, rather than the cheap processed stuff that, sadly, is so prevalent in lower-income areas. 

As for the controversy over her Animal dinner, it may be a simple case of misleadingly timed Instagrams. Her rep told Page Six, “She finished the challenge last week but only got around to posting the photo of the groceries on [Thursday].” And about whether she paid for her barbecue dinner or got a comped meal, “That’s really no one’s business.” Noted.

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