Friday, August 20, 2010

Thanks for all the rice

If you were in my Teaching Showcase talk today, about grading rubrics and have read the handouts, or know me at all, you will recognise the corruption of my title from "thanks for all the fish" (the inimitable Douglas Adams).

So why start with thanks? I have now been on this diet for 10 days. My dear friend Betty helped alleviate the boredom by giving me brown basmati rice. On a more serious note I realise that the rice I have been eating, whilst organic and as fair trade as possible, has probably been produced by hand growing and hand harvesting.

Certainly the tomatoes, onions, okra and peppers in our garden have been produced by the hard labour of my husband who was in the garden, sweating like a pig, digging in compost at 6.30am this morning.

A new lesson learned : food production is hard labour and we should be doubly thankful to those who produce it. Of course, my father-in-law, knows this only too well - he has a mixed farm in Devon, UK (crops and sheep) but somehow, to my mind, not having machinery to help makes growing rice in India a more arduous task. I imagine he would agree with me having spent his childhood years turning hay by hand and riding a plough horse.

A second lesson learned is that I can live on much less than I thought. My Mum lived through rationing in World War II England. She has often told me stories of having a cup of sugar for a week etc. I couldn't think how one managed on rations but I haven't had sugar for 10days and I am really none the worse for it. Like us they had chickens and a garden; I have been truly blessed.

Yet another lesson - we didn't waste much food before but I cannot imagine wasting any in the future! I absented myself from the faculty lunches on Monday and Tuesday, I didn't want the temptation of leftovers and didn't want to see them wasted.

Now, confession time, yesterday I had a mint, Natalie in Brenda Vallance's office keeps them for visitors! Also, at the Humanities lunch at Cannoli Joe's I had a huge plate of vegetables (apparently that Italian restaurant doesn't think Italians eat rice; I had expected risotto at least!).

Tomorrow, is the last day of my suffering, but I am very tempted to go on. I have been cushioned from true hunger by the 'fat' I was carrying. I have lost 10lbs. I feel that, provided I don't get any fainter or weaker, I should go on. I will let you know what I decide...

In the meantime dates:

Tomorrow - 21st August at 15.00 ALLIES meet in TH 112 at St Edward's University. Please come.
5th October 2010 - 7pm Fleck Hall 305 St Edward's University - I will be talking about my experience of attending the United Nations discussions on the 2015 Poverty initiative.


Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking
Free the Slaves
Consortium for Street Children
The Pegasus Children's Trust
GEMS - this organisation rescues slaves (prostitutes) trafficked into the USA
Children of the Night - rescues child and adolescent prostitutes trafficked into and within the USA
Polaris - US joint agency - seeks to implement the laws against slavery and trafficking
The coalition of Immokalee Workers (slaves freed in the USA)

You may be interested to know that, in Texas, we are awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court about whether a mentally retarded child forced into prostitution by an older man should have her conviction for prostitution quashed.

Books by Kevin Bales "Modern Slavery - 27 million slaves" and "Disposable People" and "The Slave Next Door"

Books by Judy Westwater of the Pegasus Children's Trust "Street Kid" and "Nowhere to Run" Judy will be visiting St Edward's University between 18th and 25th October, there will be occasions for you to hear her talk.

You can buy gifts which are ethically made on the websites of Free The Slaves and The Consortium for Street Children.

If you are moved to do so - please donate.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 8

Good Evening!

Today, Monday 16th August 2010, has been difficult for me. The hunger has really hit me today and I found that I was very faint this morning until about 10am. Then the faintness returned this evening and I feel quite light-headed as I write.

Breakfast has become my most important meal. I go to bed hungry and wake up hungry but I can re-instate some equilibrium by 10am ish by eating a good breakfast. I have no idea how I would manage in real life where I would have to fetch my water before I could even cook. It is bad enough refiling our gallon bottles at HEB (you will recall our broken water softener).

I 'stole' food at lunch time. It was new faculty orientation. I had taken my rice but, after everyone had eaten, some vegetable wraps remained uneaten. I have to confess to being so hungry that I took the vegetables out of the wraps to eat with my rice. Of course, had I been a real slave/street kid I would have taken everything I could but I felt that I couldn't be at all true to my principles if I just ate lunch, regardless of my hunger!

This evening as a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner in our house; so I had the vicarious pleasure of the smells and sight of fabulous food.

Tomorrow is the full faculty meeting for a day. I will take my rice and try to remain unmoved by the sight of uneaten food. After living on this diet, I am not sure I shall ever be able to accept food waste again.

Having re-read this post I do sound as if I am whinging. Sorry, the new TV footage of the floods in Pakistan and the extent of the plight of 27million people keeps me focused. Of course, 27 million is an interesting figure because that is the number of slaves in our world.

You don't have to donate to make a difference - read Judy Westwater's autobiographical book "Street Kid", and then give it to someone else to read. Tell your friends, acquaintances, everyone...

To donate:
Pegasus Children's Trust - to help the flood victims.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


It is Saturday and, by the time today is over I will have been on the diet for a whole week!

Thursday was a bad day for me. I had to cancel my plans for the morning because I was just too weak to feel it would be sensible to drive. I had a hideous headache and a hole, the size of Texas, in my tummy.

Yesterday morning I was up early to meet the farrier so we could shoe the horses before the, forecast high of 106 arrived. Of course, I could resist discussing my diet, slaves and street children with him. Given that he was in a ‘sneaky’ part of the military before taking to his new career he was largely unimpressed by the fact that I was starving, apparently they are taught which bugs they can eat, but very impressed with the reason I was on the diet. We discussed his time in Mombasa, Kenya, when he had been at a loss as to what to do when he had to step over a dying emaciated man in the street. Also, we talked about the poor, enslaved prostitutes of Thailand, who were the objects of many of his shipmates’ attentions.

He gave me a new perspective on watching others, notably my wonderful, long-suffering daughter and husband, eat. He pointed out that my enslaved farmer would know that his masters were eating lavishly and probably wasting the fruits of his labours. So, he encouraged me, eat their leftovers and what you can scrape out of the pans. Unfortunately for me they are so well brought up to know that waste food is sinful that there are never leftovers which aren’t eaten another day but I will investigate the pans. Also, we compost all our biodegradable waste so that isn’t really a source for me to tap. I believe that would be what is done in India too; you can’t have new vegetables without improving the soil.

Do I feel that hungry – yes – it used to be at night and in the morning, now it is constant? But I think I am getting better at enduring it. Yesterday I sat down to a supper of lentils, tomatoes and peppers with equanimity, whilst my family ate lasagne.

What have I learned in the past two days?

a. Being a self-confessed foodie who often plans trips at home and abroad around restaurants I have read I cannot imagine living on this diet all my life. Never to enjoy the sound of bacon sizzling, never to have your taste buds stimulated by combinations of delicate flavours (goats cheese brie fried and served with toasted pine nuts, raisins, lavender and honey springs to mind – sampled on a very food centred trip to Barcelona!), never to be delighted by the sight of fine food beautifully presented on a plate, never to smell Mum’s roast beef cooking and have the expectation of Yorkshire puddings and gravy and never to touch the icing on a chocolate sheet cake. I could go on with the 'nevers' but it will make me hungry!

b. That slave farmers have it better than street kids. I do not say this in any way to suggest that I think slavery is a good thing – IT IS NOT – but at least they do have food. If you are a street kid you have no expectation of food and source of healthy, albeit starvation level food. You only have the garbage others discard.

c. That when you have eaten your allotted food that is it. No snacks just feeling hungry till the next meal

d. I can confirm that hunger causes extreme tiredness and a feeling of being faint much of the time.

Judy Westwater emailed me this morning to ask if I had started having out of body experiences. The answer is no and I am hoping not to get that far!

Until tomorrow when my family will be having roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for supper – at least I get the smell, sight, and have the knowledge that I will eat it again one day.

(Apologises to vegetarians, I am sure that you would have other food privations just as strongly in my shoes).


Free the Slaves, The Pegasus Children's Trust, The Consortium for Street Children - for direct links see previous posts.

Last, but by no means least, I would like to thank all at St. Edward's University for their support and amazing curriculum which means that not only will their graduates have a social conscience but also, will be educated about the problems and possible solutions.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 4

I cannot believe that I have now spent 3 days on this diet!

What can I tell you about it?

Well I have learned
a. That when you are hungry you will begin to feel that you could eat things which, normally, you wouldn't. By way of a small, but telling, example: Yesterday I finished teaching Capstone. I had promised to buy the students pizza to celebrate their success. Of course, I couldn't eat the pizza and sat their with my soup and rice watching them eat. There was some cheese left on the bottom of the box after the pizza had been cut. I SO WANTED that cheese; fortunately my daughter declared herself staving and ate it, saving me!!!! I did eat a small crust of one of her slices on the basis that it could count as unleaven bread - it was delicious...

b. Talking about watching people eat pizza I think that, and cooking for my family, is a huge challenge. I cook them meals and then sit down with my rice and weeds. Last night, waiting for the pizzas to be cooked was almost unbearable. So I have learned what it is like to be on the outside looking in. I know how terrible it must be to be hungry and watch everyone around you eating. Turning on the TV is another challenge - wall to wall food programmes and advertisments!

c. Also, I have learned that my stomach can make interesting noises. On Tuesday I was working, surrounded by my faithful 3 springer spaniels, when some growling started. I immediately told them off only to find that it was my stomach, I have never heard it perform like that before!

d. Now, I know what it is like to go to bed hungry and wake up hungry - horrible. Also, yesterday, I started having a headache which I just cannot shift.

so... my journey is teaching me many things and I am sure I will be stronger for it. When I see the footage of the floods in Pakistan my resolve is strengthened.

They have nothing.

I know this will end and I have fat reserves - although I have lost 2lbs in 3 days.

If you feel motivated to donate or just become more aware here are the links:

and two organisations helping the victims of human trafficking in Central Texas: and http://www.ctcaht,org/

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Good Morning

I thought I would leave it until Day 2 to tell you about my whole day, yesterday and give a sneak preview of today!

First, back to Sunday. Even in the shiny new, but relatively small, Dripping Springs HEB there is a bewildering array of different types of rice. I had gone for basmati, which I always use when cooking Indian food, but ended up also buying Himalayan brown rice. I had wild rice at home but of course that isn't authentic at all, it isn't a rice and comes from USA! A study of the Internet reveals that there are many rice varieties grown in this part of India and so I will go to Central Market and see what else I can find (

Also, I decided I would do a deal with my eggs (organic eggs sell for $4 a half dozen at dripping springs farmer market) so that I could buy a garlic, 7tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of white breadcrumbs, a little cilantro and a cucumber. With some of the oil and garlic and all the breadcrumbs I made a lot of gazpacho using the tomatoes, peppers and onions from my garden. Yes, I know this is not authentic but I am sure that they have a similar type of summer soup.

So - DAY ONE -

I honestly couldn't face the thought of rice for breakfast. So I skipped breakfast!

Lunch - cold soup and warm mixed rice - not at all bad

Supper - I fried garlic in a very small amount of oil in a non-stick pan. Then I heated the rice and added an egg which I scrambled to give it an egg fried rice feel. Yes, borrowed from another culture but you try thinking of things to do!!!!!! I sprinkled it with a little fresh cilantro (coriander for UK readers).

What did I drink - tea of course, no milk, and water

DAY TWO - well it is nearly 9am and I still can't face the thought of rice for breakfast. However, my stomach is growling - I have NEVER heard it do that before! So I think I must go and force a little down. I have a headache but I think that is just the dietary change. I didn't expect to be hungry this quickly, not a good sign for the future.

HOWEVER, I saw the TV news about the people dispossessed by the floods in Pakistan and realised that at least I had food; so I am not complaining.

Check in tomorrow....

And remember please, this is not about me, consider donating and please make other friends, family and acquaintances aware of the problems.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Snake and Water

Thank you to those of you who have come forward with suggestions to stop the snake. I had hoped to surround the chicken pen with crushed mothballs last night. But I teach Capstone until 9.35pm so by the time I got home it was dark.

ALSO, my husband hadn't got home until after dusk and went to get the eggs only to find the snake in the nest box with "two eggs close to the head end"!

So will get to work with the moth balls once s/he has left.

This diet is beginning to feel more realistic because our water softener has decided to give up the ghost. :(

This means that everything will be covered in limescale before you can say the word. I will have to buy water to cook with until the plumber can come. Admittedly it is not the same as having to walk to the well and bring it back in buckets but it serves as a timely reminder of how much we take for granted.

Until tomorrow

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Sudden Realization!

This morning I was sitting at the breakfast table eating the obligatory shredded wheat and fruit when it suddenly dawned on me that the 9th August (start date) is only 5 days away!

I have so many meetings in the second week of the diet that I am beginning to worry about how bad I will feel. Especially at the School of Humanities faculty meeting, which is at 'Cannelloni Joe's'. For those of you who don't know this is an 'all you can eat' Italian restaurant! Perhaps risotto will fit the bill, albeit too extravagantly.

Anyway...a little news:

On behalf of the Consortium for Street Children, and by the great kindness of the faculty and staff of St Edward's University, I will be attending the United Nations meeting in New York 20-22nd September 2010. I will be reporting back at a meeting at St Edward's University in Fleck Hall, Rm 315 at 7pm on 5th October 2010. I hope as many of you as can will all attend.

Have Dal for lunch and aubergine stew for supper and 2 3hr classes to teach so; until tomorrow

Donate Now :

Free the Slaves :

Consortium for Street Children :

Please also look at the great work being done by the Pegasus Children’s Trust in South Africa :

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Remember if you wish to: Donate!

If you would like to support me, please, simply go to one of the following websites and DONATE.

Free the Slaves :

Consortium for Street Children :

Please also look at the great work being done by the Pegasus Children’s Trust in South Africa :

Gains and Losses

So that I do not shock my old body too much I have started cutting back on the food I eat. To do this and stay healthy I chose to go on the ‘Slimmers World’ diet.

I started on Saturday, 24th July, so I am now 8 days down that road.

The idea behind the diet is that you eat either as much as you want of protein, fruit and vegetables with enough carbohydrates and dairy to keep you healthy or as much as you want of carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables with enough protein and dairy to keep you healthy. You choose the bulk protein or carbohydrate for the day and stick to it.

Thus, my diet has looked like this:

Breakfast : Shredded Wheat, milk from an allowance, fruit.

Lunch : couscous with peppers, tomatoes, onion, basil, rocket and 28grams of meat

Dinner : Heinz Baked Beans in tomato sauce – an English thing, but could have been pinto beans.

Or :

Breakfast: Oatmeal, milk from allowance and fruit

Lunch : Steak and 28grams of baked potato

Dinner : sliced ham or other meat

The idea is that you never get hungry because you can eat as much as you want of certain foods but I can tell you...

a. I was very hungry for the first 5 days

b. I had a terrible headache, which I just couldn’t shift, for about a week, better now though!

c. Now, I don’t want to eat lots – ‘oh couscous again’ doesn’t have the same appeal as ‘what fun thing can I eat for dinner’!

d. I have peculiar cravings – custard with raisins, fried onions and Yorkshire Pudding with golden syrup to name a few!

I have lost 5lbs.

So its working in cutting my appetite...

How does the garden grow?

An Indian farmer in debt bondage would have about an acre on which to grow crops for sale and food for his family. Our vegetable garden has 6 beds which are, averaging them, 12ft long by 2ft wide. They are under the care of my husband, I grow flowers, principally roses, so my part of the garden is useless for these purposes.

Of course, my long-suffering husband didn’t know he needed to grow enough vegetables to keep me healthy during the diet, and, anyway, there is not much which grows in the heat of the Texas summer. So my audit of the garden is:

Bell Peppers, lots of them

Tomatoes, lots of them

Okra (which I hate) lots


Rocket – very old and woody

Some small lettuce plants hiding under the okra for shade.



1 cabbage

I don’t think I will be making a lot of money from the sale of these!


To add insult to injury, our chickens have decided it is too hot to lay more than 2 eggs between them a day. They normally lay 1 each so I am hoping for a return to cooler weather.

What is more disturbing is that we have a rat snake. We have been tolerating him/her because s/he steals just a few eggs whilst, we am told, keeping other snakes out of the area. He is a bit freaky to find in the nesting box when collecting eggs so Walter, my husband, has to collect eggs after dark!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I am now getting protective of my eggs so if anyone knows a way to keep out that snake please let me know!

More soon...

Friday, July 30, 2010

A healthy diet

Apparently this is what you need to eat daily to stay healthy

Grains: 6 ounces (rice is in this category and 1/2 cup = 1 ounce)
Veggies: 2.5 cups
Fruit 1.5 cups
Milk: 3 cups
Meat/beans/eggs: 5 ounces (PROTEIN)

Therefore as far as nutrients go, the slave diet doesnt have enough calcium and B12. Thus the nutritionist has insisted that I take a daily multi-vitamin.

However on the plus side I should be getting a little bit from each of the five food groups daily (except fruit) and I should be fine (hungry, and maybe fatigued, certainly grumpy, but fine).

Not having any fruit is OK as long as I am eating veggies, and if possible- eating more than the 2.5 cups recommended to make up for the missing fruit.

Not having my milk requirement daily means insufficient calcium, but calcium, also, comes from dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens and romaine lettuce.

As far as the protein group, I will combine the beans and rice whenever possible to make a complete protein source. However, I only get beans once every two weeks so the eggs, already a complete protein source, will have to see me through. I wonder, can I get high colesterol on eating so little!?

Oils are important and we should have about 5 teaspoons daily so I need to barter/sell some of those egss to buy oil.

On the plus side, and the only one I can think of...the serving recommendations typed up top are to maintain weight - as I am cutting back on those I will drop some pounds!

More later...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why this blog - why this diet?

“What’s it like being an Indian farm labourer in debt bondage? You can get a sense of their daily life by trying the following...” so starts a chapter of Disposable People by Kevin Bales about the life of a slave in India today. (195)

He continues with exact specifications of what a slave farmer and his family eat.

“Fill up a coffee mug four times with rice or wheat. Now feed a family of 5 for one day with the grain you have measured out” (195).

Thus, depending upon the size of your children, you will get about a 3rd of a cup of rice at each meal, or as much unleavened bread as you can make from your wheat and share between you. Every two weeks half of the rice or grain is replaced by lentils or beans.

Of course you can add to this diet

a. Anything you can forage, like dandelions and nettles

b. Anything you can barter for – see below

c. Anything you can buy

However, to buy or barter you have to have something. So, after a day of labor, you will need to tend your garden (about an acre) to grow crops, raise chickens or, if you are supremely lucky, feed your cow.

I am Kay Burrough (Firth-Butterfield) and, with Dr Mity Myhr, I will be teaching workshops at St Edwards University, Austin, Texas, in Fall 2010. These workshops are part of the University’s general education programme ‘Cultural Foundations’ in which students look at global, rather than domestic, issues. Our theme for the workshops is modern slavery and human trafficking. In our discussions we have wondered ‘how will we be able to help our students to understand what it feels like to be a slave’? Well, when I read the above in Kevin Bales’ book I knew I could help with a small part of that answer.

Therefore, starting on 9th August 2010 I am going to go onto THE SLAVE DIET for as long as I am well i.e. my nutritionist and physician approve. I am going to try to continue until we start the Fall semester. Of course, there will be slight differences, for example I have a vegetable garden and chickens but not an acre. Also, I have been advised to take multi-vitamins.

SO today (23rd July 2010) I must start preparing myself, no more sugar cookies with my tea at 11am! I will be cutting down my food intake generally until 9th August and then starting...I will keep you posted!

If you would like to support me, please, simply go to one of the following websites and DONATE.

Free the Slaves :

Consortium for Street Children :

Please also look at the great work being done by the Pegasus Children’s Trust in South Africa :