About this Blog

Welcome! Thanks for checking out On Food Stamps.

I created this blog in 2009 when I began working at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. My work at this organization opened my eyes to food justice issues in America, and I had a strong desire to better understand the difficulties many people face when trying to access healthy food on a limited budget. So, I embarked on my own Food Stamp Challenge, living on $31/week as a vegan. I used this blog to chronicle my experience.

While my Food Stamp Challenge project has come to an end, you can see what I learned from it by reading the Greatest Hits posts linked to the right side of the page. Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.

Stay Hungry,


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Farmer's Market Report

Today I went to two Farmer's Markets in low income neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and I bought some more produce. I went over this week's limit a bit, and that food will count towards next week.

Watts Healthy Market

This market is centrally located in the neighborhood of Watts at Ted Watkins Memorial Park on 103rd and Central Ave.

I found the market to be pretty good, albeit limited in selection. There was about 1 booth per food type - citrus fruits, greens, potatoes/onions, etc., and while most farmers told me they did not use pesticides, only one was USDA Certified Organic - that was the famous South Central Farmers cooperative's booth (I suggest checking them out - very interesting story). There was one tent where food stamp recipients could check in and get vouchers which every vendor accepted as payment. This tent also had representatives from the WIC program handing out pamphlets, nutrition guides, and books with recipes that could be made with produce bought at the market. I wouldn't say the tent, or the market, were particularly packed, although there was a decent flow of people.

At the market I bought:
  • 1 bunch of Organic Kale = $1.50
  • 1 large bunch of Organic mint = $1
Both of these items were from the South Central Farmers co-op. I also tasted the most absolutely fantastic baby carrots I have ever had in my life at this booth. The woman hadn't even peeled them, had just washed them very well, and they were so sweet, crisp, and fresh I almost died. But, I really couldn't buy them because a bunch of 5 small carrots cost $3.

I also took down prices for many items including apricots, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, and broccoli. As the weeks go on I will be putting prices for each food item into a spread sheet and comparing them at the various shopping sites. Look for the full price report later this month.

L.A. Central Avenue Market

Cute little market in a parking lot at 4410 McKinley Ave. Like the Watts Market, this one was easy to find and had plenty of signage. It was also very small, but seemed to have a better crowd. Right next door there was a beat-up field (no grass) full of people playing soccer and spectators cheering the players on.

Once again, there was a very friendly table with WIC and food stamps programs representative helping people get vouchers to buy the produce. I spoke to the Farmer's Market Manager and WIC representative here at length about the fact that while SNAP (food stamps), WIC, and other USDA food program benefits are accepted at the local farmers markets in LA, most program recipients do not actually go to these markets and spend their vouchers there. The statistic for the participation rate is actually staggeringly low. I will report on that more later on. For now, put your guess in the comment section: What percentage of SNAP recipients in LA County redeem their benefits at farmer's markets?

This market also had a fantastic addition - a little booth at the end of one row with two long tables and a nutrition class going on. When I got there, there were probably only 6 people in the tent, but they seemed to be having a fun time and the whole affair seemed lively and approachable.

At this market I bought:
  • A 5lb. bag of Organic navel oranges = $3
  • 2 Organic grapefruits - $1
  • 1.89 lbs of assorted potatoes and 1 onion at $1/lb = $1.89
Total spent at the two markets: $8.39
Weekly total: At $35
Amount left for NEXT week (which will run 5/17-5/25): $33.84

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