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 Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.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

Julie

Friday, July 3, 2009

No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer

video

I have had a strong emotional reaction to Michael Jackson's death. I can't stop listening to his music, all I want to do is drive and rock out to his masterful pop hits. The man had a hard life, and I feel a great deal of compassion for him. To me his death sends a message about compassion and forgiveness, recognizing the good with the bad, that really "[couldn't] have been any clearer."

One of my favorite Michael Jackson songs is "Man in the Mirror." Seriously. I know it is possibly a bit cheesy to some, but I spent many nights in my small hometown in Connecticut driving around at night blasting that song with my best friend and singing it at the top of our lungs to the snow covered tobacco fields. Its a great tune, back-up singing chorus ladies and all.

When I watched the video above - with all the people reacting so strongly to this call for each one of us to change our lives to help better the human race - I cry. I actually cry and get goose bumps all over my arms.

If you don't know the lyrics, check them out. I have italicized and bolded the lyrics that are particularly relevant to this post :

"Man In The Mirror"

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere To Go
That's Why I Want You To Know

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They're Not
Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With Me

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could've
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .
Change!

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror,
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
You Can't Close Your . . .Your Mind!
That Man, That Man, That Man, That Man
With That Man In The Mirror
That Man, That Man, That Man
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
You Know . . .That Man
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
Gonna Feel Real Good Now!

I'm Gonna Make A Change
It's Gonna Feel Real Good!
Come On!
Just Lift Yourself
You Know
You've Got To Stop It.
Yourself!
I've Got To Make That Change,
Today!
Hoo!
You Got To
You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
Brother . . .
Hoo!
You Know-I've Got To Get
That Man, That Man . . .
You've Got To
You've Got To Move! Come
On! Come On!
You Got To . . .
Stand Up! Stand Up!
Stand Up!
Stand Up And Lift
Yourself, Now!
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Aaow!
Gonna Make That Change . . .
Come On!
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know . . .
Make That Change.

What I love about this song is that Michael recognizes his own need to change something about himself to make the world better, and then he goes on to call on everyone else to do the same. The end where he is chanting and repeating "stand up! gonna make that change! you know it!" really gets me, and that part relates very specifically to this blog and my "Fix Our Food System" message.

I feel very strongly that each one of us has a responsibility to make small changes to increase the healthfulness and sustainability of our eating patterns, especially given the current state of the environment. When I went to the Save-a-Lot this Monday, I bought food that came from all over the place. It wasn't local. It wasn't sustainable.

My oats came from Earth City, MO.
My grapefruits and key limes from Mexico. (And I live in Southern California!)
My canned soup from Monrovia, CA.
My multi-grain bread from a plant in Fort Worth, TX.
That gyoza package is gone by now, but I image those vegetarian dumplings were not from Southern California.

Personally, I need to make more of an effort to eat local and make it to those Farmers' Markets. Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes, like on Monday, it is impossible. But for the most part I can do it, and I am going to make that change from now on. I am really going to focus on buying local and sustainable more heavily from here on out.

What about you? What change are you making? Do you think it makes any difference in the overall health of our food system?

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