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 Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.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,


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ants on my Figs

I went for a run today at the reservoir in Silverlake and found more public fruit. This time, it was FIGS. After a bit of searching around the tree I found four figs that came off of their branches easily. I don't know much about picking figs, but when a fruit comes off of its branch easily that is usually a good sign as far are ripeness is concerned. I practically skipped back to my car. Figs! For free! Hanging into the sidewalk! I LOVE CALIFORNIA! (Those are my thoughts.)

I got back home and cut them open. One was overly ripe and already had some ants living in it. I left the other three alone for a few moments, and when I got back there seemed to be ants all over all of them. Determined to make this work, I washed the fig with the fewest ants and cut off a little piece. It didn't taste too ripe to me. Suddenly I started to think this might not be the best idea. I googled "poisonous figs" just in case. I didn't come up with anything alarming, but the ants had really ruined the whole experience for me. I chucked the figs.

Later, I tried those lemons from yesterday. They were not what I was expecting. They weren't sour at all. In fact, they were sort of sweet. Like a mix between a lemon and an orange. It was a very strange experience because I tasted the slice I cut with my entire mouth bracing for the familiar sour flavor of a normal lemon. It reminded me of drinking flat Sprite when you think you're getting water. Not unpleasant, just a weird mouth sensation.

I started googleing lemon varieties to see what I might have picked. It seems there are many different types of lemons out there, but I couldn't pin down a description that matched my roundish, yellow, and sort of sweet citrus fruit. I'm keeping those mystery citrus fruits, but I'm not sure how to use them. I have to get more comfortable with their flavor.

Clearly I have a lot to learn about California fruit varieties before I get too excited about public fruit. And, if we're going to use our urban space for micro-farms like I suggested earlier, we might have to be more strategic about planting familiar edible plants. (With respect for native varieties, of course!)

If anyone has any idea what that lemon thing is that I picked, let me know. I'm going to sleep a bit disappointed that my recent public fruit triumphs turned out to be... well, failures.


  1. Maybe they were Meyer lemons? Those are more sweet than sour and are thin skinned.

  2. I'm surprised about the ants on the figs. I've never ever had ants on fruit that I just picked. I've had gashes from birds who never eat the whole thing and just eat the insides out of a bunch and I've had other kinds of bug damage. I'm not sure I could eat them either if they were ant covered.

  3. I was thinking Meyer Lemon as well -- there are lots of great recipes out there for those and they are quite expensive here, back East.

  4. I think you guys might be right that it is a Meyer lemon. They are roundish and sweeter than normal lemons. Apparently Alice Waters and Martha Stewart both have lots of recipes out there with Meyer lemons. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for helping me out on that one!