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 Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.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


Friday, August 7, 2009


Thank you to everyone who responded with information and resources to help me with my Lentil classification problem. Stacey gave me a fantastic link to the American Diabetes Association Food Advisor page; it is turning out to be a great resource. Thanks, Stacey!

The whole Lentils-are-a-grain scare got me thinking about just how little I know about nutrition and diet. I would say that I know much much more than the average American does about health, nutrition and food sustainability, but I also feel that I barely know anything at all about these topics and still have so much to learn.

I am armed with a pretty privileged upbringing, a good public high school education and an Ivy League college degree, but I know very little about how food affects my body and the environment. Clearly, health and sustainable food have not made it into the American curriculum.

If I feel I know so little about nutrition and I have had all of the aforementioned educational advantages, it suddenly makes sense to me that Americans are so obese and our health care system is such a mess. We have never been taught how to take care of ourselves. We have never been taught how to eat right. (And if we were, we'd be hard pressed to find the time and money to act on our new knowledge.) Most of the information Americans get about food comes from advertisements from huge food companies, not informed and beneficent educators. We form bad habits and pass them on to our children, and no one ever steps in to intervene.

It has been a bit of a struggle for me to learn this stuff. I have really had to teach myself and actively seek out teachers and advisers. So, what were all those Health classes in high school about if they didn't teach me to take care of my body and eat properly? Oh, right. They were about abstinence and drugs.

Granted, maybe my high school tried to put their limited health education dollars towards the issues they felt were most pressing and dangerous to teens, so I will try to cut them some slack. Still, I know that the rates of teen pregnancy and drug abuse are high, but aren't rates of Obesity and Diabetes higher and thus more alarming? I am pretty appalled at how little I have been taught about nutrition, and I know that most Americans know less than I do.

I would like to see some major public policy muscle put behind educating people about food. So many of us are really in the dark on this stuff, and that is really impacting our quality of life in a negative way. The food system is never going to change or improve in America unless people demand that it changes. But, no one is going to demand that it changes if they don't understand the first thing about food or nutrition.

Clearly, stakeholders who have interests in maintaining the broken status quo are not going to start educating people about eating better. If we did that, they wouldn't buy so many Doritos.

A note on the photo: Campbell's Tomato Soup is an iconic image of mass produced food and overall food confusion. To the average American, a can of this soup might seem like a really healthy meal, one to pat yourself on the back after. It is a vegetable serving right? And, isn't it low fat? A slightly more discerning eye will see that its nutritional value is questionable, and its lack of sustainably is undeniable. And, it isn't even that cheap!


  1. Two books I would highly recommend on your subject: The End of Overeating by David Kessler and Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Taubes' book, in particular, is mind-blowing.

  2. Kathleen - Thanks for the recommendations. I just checked out your blog too - lost 1/3 of your body weight? Awesome. I am really interested to see that you are writing about the emotional challenges of getting healthy. The emotional and social side of eating is something I think is too often overlooked in discussions about food.