Gwyneth Paltrow is starring in a new one-woman show. It’s called “How to Pretend I’m Poor for a Week” and it’s already getting mixed reviews. Her props: the groceries she bought at a local grocery store with her pretend $29 SNAP (also known as Food Stamps) benefits.



Michelle Malkin wrote this scathing review for NRO today:

Last week, the progressive princess celebrity joined the “SNAP challenge.” It’s basically the ice-bucket challenge for bored Hollywood liberals and media-hungry Democratic politicians. For seven days (or at least for an hour or two after they publish their announcements to Twitter and Facebook), the bleeding hearts play “poor” by subsisting on a faux welfare budget. Paltrow was invited to join the poverty voyeurism racket by her good friend Chef Mario Batali — last seen eating his way through Spain with G-Pally for a 13-part PBS TV series. When these self-indulgent stars are not binging on European delicacies, they’re purging themselves of liberal guilt with phony gimmicks like the SNAP sanctimony. The idea, Batali explains, is to “walk in the shoes of” millions who rely on government assistance to supplement their household budgets.

Walk in the shoes of SNAP beneficiaries? Well, that's a little rich considering Paltrow suggests I walk around in a pair of $850 Marni Colorblock sandals. But some have defended the star. Time Magazine entertainment writer Daniel D'Addario called Paltrow's committment to the Food Stamp Challenge "valuable" but added:

Obviously, this was not the most efficient $29 grocery basket in history. That it was put forward as a reasonable purchase by a person whose brand glamorizes luxurious and hard-to-find ingredients makes her critics’ work fairly tidy. But it’s not so wildly outside the realm of possibility that a person on food stamps might want flavorful, interesting food like salsa (made from that cilantro and those limes) as a meager addition to healthful staples. It’s easy to criticize Paltrow for representing her $29 purchase, with its small indulgences, as prototypical. But those small indulgences, whether they’re Paltrow’s herbs and limes or the various staples that lawmakers have tried to eliminate from food assistance programs, can help make the circumstances marginally less bleak.

I understand why some have defended her. They think Paltrow’s doing the world a favor by highlighting the paltry amount of money given to those on SNAP. But in truth, Paltrow did the opposite by showing how a Hollywood actress with a daily calorie allotment of around 500 calories can do quite well on that budget. But real people live nothing like Paltrow. People probably understand Paltrow doesn’t eat much, but these so-called healthy foods Paltrow chose to buy aren’t going to sustain a person with a normal weight and a normal diet for long.

Even Paltrow seems to admit she’s play-acting with the SNAP challenge. As People Magazine reports, Paltrow was seen last night eating at the Los Angeles hot spot Animal which offers such unaffordable entrees as $36 rabbit legs and $41 lamb. Her meal there is curious considering she announced she’d shopped for fresh ingredients to begin her SNAP benefits challenge. But let’s give her a break. One quick glance at that basket could make even the most die hard Paltrow-hater understand why she’s running out for a restaurant meal.

If Paltrow really wanted to do us regular Americans any favors, she’s stop with the stunts and use her considerable celebrity to shine a light on the real reasons people can’t afford to feed their families—the rising cost of food. As Ben Domenech explained in an article last year for the Federalist, beef and veal prices have increased 35.2 percent, pork has increased 27 percent, fish and seafood have increased more than 20 percent, eggs more than 33 percent, dairy 16 percent, and fresh fruits 13.8 percent.  All this while wages have stagnated and unemployment remains at record highs.

There are solutions to these problems; solutions that seem lost on Paltrow and so many others who participate in the SNAP benefit challenge. Those solutions include strengthening America’s economy, nurturing innovation in the food, biotechnology and agriculture sectors, and encouraging job creation so that people can get off SNAP benefits. These are solutions that will actually help people gain independence and bring food costs down for those who remain on SNAP.