3 Things The Sims Taught Me About Money

A few weeks ago my husband and I made a dubious purchasing decision on iTunes. We rented and watched The Queen of Versailles, a strange US documentary about one of the wealthiest families in America and their experience of the 2008 GFC.

The kind of wealth this family has is genuinely unimaginable. Watching Jackie and David Siegal have to cut back after David’s timeshare empire hits a rough patch is especially strange. For this family, ‘cutting back’ means selling a $65m house still being built. But there are some familiar moments, too – David yelling at his family to turn some lights off is one. In many ways, this family lives in an entirely different world, but challenges like the chaos of raising 8 kids (!!!) and dealing with Christmas on a budget makes their plight very, very real.

But of course, these people’s attitude to money was by far the most fascinating thing for me. And oddly familiar. It took me a while to figure out why, because by no means have I ever been anywhere near that kind of wealthy, but then I got it.

It’s because of this:

I am no hardcore gamer, but I find this game super fun, and at times is eerily lifelike. Here’s what playing The Sims has taught me about money. Continue reading

What’s at stake with your steak?

A blog I wrote for Oxfam Australia’s 3 Things Project, on the impact that our growing demand for meat has on the environment and small farmers. Stay tuned for an update on how I’m experimenting with intermittent veganism.

About a year ago, I got very sick. What was strange though, was that I didn’t seem to have any kind of illness or disease. I had terrible headaches, got periodically so dizzy I had to lie down on the floor, and felt constantly nauseous. Sometimes I got motion sick just from walking.

But no one could figure out what was wrong with me, until I had my iron levels tested. Normal iron levels for women are 50 to 170 μg/dL. Don’t ask me what μg/dL are; I have no idea. But whatever they are, I didn’t have enough of them. My blood measured 3 μg/dL. That is pathologically low, and explained much of why I had been so ill.

Why do I bring this up? Well, after that shocking blood test, I was told to eat steak 5 nights a week. 5 nights a week. Even for a meat-lover like me, that’s a lot of steak.

This is all to say that, when I raise the notion of eating less meat, I don’t do it lightly. I’ve felt the effects of low iron, and know that for many people, regular red meat is a necessity. Or at least we’re told it is. Continue reading