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 Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.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


Monday, July 20, 2009


After about 4 hours on hold at AT&T (where I jammed out to "your-call-is-very-important-to-us" Musak the whole time) my Internet is back up and running. I haven't blogged in a week so this is a bit overwhelming. So much to say.

When I am overwhelmed I find making lists helps me out, so this post will be a bit list-ish. Hope you don't mind. Since we last spoke:

1. I have fallen in love with my local Farmers' Market. For awhile I found making it to the Farmers' Market was bit of a pain. The one closest to me was only open on Fridays from 3-7pm, and getting to it required me to skip my boxing workout. I wasn't sure if it was much cheaper than A-Grocery Warehouse, and it was generally difficult to get myself to go. Despite all those deterrents, I finally made a public commitment on this blog to work harder at buying local and Organic, and during this period of Internet malfunction induced silence I have indeed followed through. Three Fridays in a row I have made it to the Farmers' Market. I am now officially hooked.

The biggest draw, for me, is that I am actually beginning to establish relationships with the people who produce my food. I have talked to the soap maker about how his mother taught him to make soap and candles when he was a child growing up in Mexico. After 3 weeks, he remembers me and knows my name. I have befriended the hunched little Jewish man who sells plumbs and peaches, and I let him convince me to buy fresh prunes this week. I'd never tried them before, but after a few taste tests I was sold. I talked to the girl who sold me Lemon Basil last week about how I incorporated her fresh herbs into my cooking, and I bought Cinnamon Basil this time around on her suggestion. I told the honey vendor about my seasonal allergy problem, and she convinced me that a teaspoon of local honey a day will help my immune system build up a resistance to local pollen. She told me to report back to her through the coming months about my allergy problems; she wants to know if her local honey improves my health. Wow. My local food producer actually cares about my health. Imagine that.

Granted, there are some things I still can't buy at the Farmers' Market. For those items I do have to trek to A-Grocery Warehouse. But, after I have begun to befriend my local farmers I don't mind the extra trip. It is seriously worth it for me to put in that extra effort to make it to the Farmers' Market in my neighborhood, and shopping there hasn't even broken the bank. I am still comfortably within a $40/week or so budget for food. I think I spent around $30 this week so far, and I have no doubt that I can make it to next Friday on the food I have right now.

2. I have been inspired by several other people working hard to make their communities healthier. First, there is Elenor Brownn, founder of Sisters Staying Healthy - a group devoted to supporting black women in their quest to improve their health. After she learned that black women were among the most unhealthy population in America, Elenor embarked on a crusade to organize her peers and help them get healthy. Click on her name to read the LA Times article which tells her story.

Then, there is the 12 year old boy who I posted about earlier today. His blog, Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs, is a fantastic resource. It makes me feel genuinely optimistic about the future of our food culture. He posted trailers about the HOME project movie, which is really worth seeing as well.

Finally, I have talked to several people in my office who are making a concerted effort to improve their diet. This may seem like a little thing, but it isn't. In the span of 1 week I have talked to three of my co-workers about their efforts to get heathier. I am not sure if they have chosed to talk to me about their own efforts because they know about my blog and my Food Stamp Challenge, but either way it has inspired me. One person has sworn off soda. Another is counting her calories and cutting back portions. Talking to people in my immediate community about their efforts to get healthier has inspired me to keep on track and continue to improve my own diet. I am all the more convined that the food choices of our family members and co-workers have a major influence on how we eat and weather or not we succeed in making healthy choices.

3. I have done some major research about Diabetes. As soon as I run out of the food I bought at this week's market, I am going to embark on a 1 week, $30 Diabetes Challenge. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of resources out there for Dibetics. I am glad it is out there, but it also reminds me how prevelant Diabetes truly is. From my research thus far, it seems like my Diabetes challenge will be all about vegetables, whole grains, limited intake of sweets and fruits and above all PORTION CONTROL.

This is going to be very difficult for me. I am good at eating veggies and whole grains. I am good at avoiding junk food. I am NOT good at eating small portions. I imagine that measuring everything out to insure that I do not take in too much of any food at once will be difficult. Stay tuned!


  1. You are officially my new Super Heroine. You are on a noble path, me love, and you have my admiration and devotion.

    Julie, you are making a ginormous impact.

    You really should send your mother a thank you note for raising such a smart, savvy, sensitive kid.

    Mother Connie

  2. Connie - What a nice thing to say to me. I actually forwarded your comment to my mother! :)

    This experience has been a truly eye opening one for me. The more I learn about the food system and food injustice in America the more I am pulled in and motivated to understand it. I hope that educating myself a bit on this social issue will better equip me to make positive change in the world.

    I really appreciate your vote of confidence.