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About the Author

Giedre Steikunaite
Student (London, United Kingdom)

Currently an editorial intern at the New Internationalist magazine ("The people, the ideas, the action in the fight for global justice"), I'm studying journalism and contemporary history in London, UK. Freelancing for various publications, back in Lithuania I was a reporter for a current affairs weekly Panorama. Development, climate change, and social issues are my main topics of interest.


$181 soup

Published 09th April 2010 - 14 comments - 2825 views -

How much would you pay for a soup? Ten per cent of your daily income would surely be too much, now wouldn’t it?

Imagine you earned more than a thousand pounds, or euros, or even dollars, a day. A portion of soup would then cost you £111.20, or $181.67.

The Café of Equivalent$ offered London’s City workers a chance of experiencing what it means to spend so much on so little and hopefully made them think about the issue.

The authors, kennardphillipps, explain: “The Café of Equivalent$, a lunch food stall selling food at cost equivocal to food affordability in the producing countries – the research to tailor the pricing for the project is not complete but – soup and bread in Mozambique for a worker earning $2 a day costs 20 cents, 10% daily wage – applied to the average bonus-earning-banker  soup and bread from our stall costs $181.67, £111.20. This intervention is an attempt to create a transparency in an opaque world of money, making material the physical possibilities of using financial resources for need rather than profit.”


the "walls" of the stall

The effect is powerful.


the "walls" of the stall

“Playing around with the concoction, fabrication of value in the global capitalist financial system, we engaged city workers with some simple truth derivatives during their lunchbreak, equating their salaried/bonus income with the cost of lunch for a worker in the producing countries ie Mozambique, Brazil, Indonesia, Bangladesh.”

I wonder, how many banksters actually bought the soup?



P. S. The project has been nominated for a Design Award and is currently shown in London’s Design Museum. There’s also a great exhibition Urban Africa, which presents all the African capitals through photography. If you're in London now or some time soon, it's well worth visiting.

Images from kennardphillipps website



Category: Hunger | Tags:


  • Lara Smallman on 09th April 2010:

    A very clever way of getting people thinking (and talking) about the issue!

  • Daniel on 09th April 2010:

    Clever way of illustrating the reality, yes. I guess it also shows how difficult this issue is… if we in the west paied the “real” price of what we consume, we would simply not afford it…

  • Jodi Bush on 10th April 2010:

    Really interesting. Great way to get some perspective. I would argue however, that using bankers salaries with bonuses isn’t the most accurate comparison. The minimum wage here after tax equates to around £900 a month, or £30 a day. That would equate to a £6 bowl of soup which actually isn’t unthinkable in a lot of restaurants in the UK. I get the point they’re making, but it doesn’t apply to a lot of individuals in developed countries.

  • Ian Sullivan on 10th April 2010:

    I totally take Jodi’s point but it’s an interesting idea to get people relating what goes on around the world to things that they can connect with. I’d be interested to know what impact it had on the bankers??

  • Lara Smallman on 10th April 2010:

    Yep - worth chasing it up to find out what they made of it

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 10th April 2010:

    Thank you all for your comments!

    There are photos on the kennardphillipps website with City workers hanging around the stall looking a bit confused smile I’m wondering, too, how many soups they sold and what the banksters said about all this. But I couldn’t find any information on that, it’s shame on me really.

    @Jodi, I understand your point, and you are right that it is not the most accurate comparison, given all the people in between these two poles. But those people in the UK on minimum wage 1) don’t go to restaurants 2) even if they do (on christmas), they go to cheap ones.

    So I think the point this project wanted to make is about, as they put it, “fabrication of value”: how does it feel, dear banksters, to spend 10% of your income on a lousy cup of soup? Before they go back to their offices and continue fabricating the value of things. smile

    A bit off the track: there’s a very interesting book on poverty of the working class, people who work hard 50-70h a week and still can’t afford anything. It also talks about % of your income spent on particular things like rent and food. Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed.

  • Jodi Bush on 10th April 2010:

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an excellent idea. I just think sometimes we portray this black and white image of developed versus developing. Like everyone is living in the lap of luxury in developed countries, and struggling in developing countries. Where clearly that’s not the case. I think it’s valuable to open peoples eyes to exactly just how good they’ve got it though.

  • Laura on 10th April 2010:

    That’s a great project, both as a social act and a creative idea.

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 10th April 2010:

    @Jodi, you are super right! Black&white; is never the reality and the reality shouldn’t be understood as black&white; only.

    Thanks for the dialogue!

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 10th April 2010:

    Yes! interesting idea and interesting dialogue there. Keep posting Giedre.

  • Aija Vanaga on 12th April 2010:

    This is a nice way how to create empathy!

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 12th April 2010:

    Would be cool to participate in such a social act! I’m on the look for more.

  • Andrei Tuch on 12th April 2010:

    Hm. Some back of the envelope calculations - 10% of my daily income is actually around what I’d pay for a bowl of soup in my home town. Yet I’m not poor…

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 12th April 2010:

    If you don’t have any other expenses, you might as well pay 10% for a bowl of soup (hopefully not your only meal that day).

    So if you had a family of 5, you’d pay half your daily wages for just one meal. Add to that rent, other food, and if you’re not in debt yet, you’re lucky. You’ll be in it tomorrow.

    (here “you” stands for “someone”, not you personally, Andrei)

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