Sun-baked adobo yurt Gwyneth Paltrow was recently challenged by sentient cartoon arancini Mario Batali to try to live for a week on $1.38 worth of groceries per day. The stunt, part of his Food Bank NYC Challenge, was meant to help shed some light on what it's actually like for people who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits, perhaps raise a little money, and hopefully stave off any further cuts to the program by Congress.
“For one week, walk in someone else's shoes,” Batali is asking people. “Knowledge is power, and by truly understanding what our friends and neighbors are going through, we will be better equipped to find solutions.”
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how irrational your dislike of Paltrow is, she—like she so often does—stepped in a giant puddle of well-intentioned organic Pomeranian turds by trying to pass herself off as a relatable human being. The other day she tweeted out a photo of her groceries:
To absolutely no one's surprise, commenters immediately dumped Paltrow in the smoothie blender for her tone deaf grocery choices: cilantro, an avocado, kale, seven frigging limes for some insane reason. Maybe she's opening the world's most twee taco truck?
“You need to be really out of touch with reality to start a week of groceries with limes,” one comment on Twitter suggested. “Your lack of awareness is nearly as embarrassing as your attempts to feign care,” offered another.
"@GwynethPaltrow is the epitome of an out of touch celebrity,” read another. “She probably paid her assistant more than $29 to go buy those groceries for her”
“I want you to die in fire for your sins. I am so lonely and scared and this is my only means of interacting with the world,” read a fourth. (Sort of paraphrasing there, but you get the idea.)
Blogs from all over the place began slicing her efforts thinner than a pesticide-free jalapeño. Most notable among them, perhaps, was The Frisky, who catalogued her items into a sort of grocery list, affixing the caloric count of each item along with it. “One dozen eggs: 840 calories. A head of romaine: Almost no calories,” and so on.
“Nutritionally speaking, this is a vitamin bonanza,” Rebecca Vipond Brink wrote. “But people who live on SNAP benefits don’t just have to get nutrients, they have to get actual calories, because they tend to have very physical lives, doing service labor and taking care of children and not necessarily being able to afford a car and so forth.”
She wasn't the only one affronted by Paltrow's attempt. “Sorry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Poverty Tourism Is Gross,” read Time's headline.
Nearly every other publication online saw fit to mock her choices. “How Gwyneth Paltrow's food stamp experience is different than life on food stamps” explained the Huffington Post. “Gwyneth Paltrow confuses her latest master cleanse with attempt to relate to the poor,” joked Mother Jones.
The content of each and every one of the pieces about Paltrow here is couched in the language of concern trolling—won't someone think of the real poor people?—but they're all essentially thinly veiled excuses to make, yet again, some truly hilarious Gwyneth Paltrow jokes. Did you know, for example, that exceptionally wealthy celebrities are often somewhat out of touch with the mainstream American experience on a day-to-day level? Also the music of Coldplay isn't particularly adventurous! Blistering commentary there.
But here's something that did actually happen as a direct result of Paltrow's grocery game: Dozens of publications, and tens of thousands of readers, have had the existence of SNAP broadcast directly into their lives. Were you thinking about it before she tweeted her groceries? I certainly wasn't. Not all, but a good portion of those people, again, because of Paltrow pointing her phone at a pile of vegetables, will have found their way to the Food Bank NYC website, or gone on to read about how lawmakers have been cutting SNAP benefits for years now. Some of them might even dig a little further, and realize that about 47 million Americans rely on these benefits to feed their families. Not exactly something you read about every day on the pages of celebrity-obsessed websites like these, or, sure, this one. But you're reading about it now, thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow and her stupid $500 Greek yogurt enemas or whatever it is they sell in GOOP. Not because any of these writers necessarily give a shit about poor people, but because many of them saw an opportunity to get in some sick Paltrow-based humor. Truly daring, and important work done by all.