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 Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.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, November 30, 2009

"Ok, America. That will be 1 Large Diabetes Epidemic. And your total is..."

While we were all chowing down on mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie this weekend, the University of Chicago released a new study about the rise of Diabetes in America. Get a load of this:

2009 - 23.7 Million people in America have Diabetes 2034- 44.1 Million people in America are projected to have Diabetes
according to this study.
It is no surprise that with the prediction that the number of cases of Diabetes will nearly double, comes the prediction that spending on Diabetes care will also increase. The study estimates that by 2034, spending on Diabetes care will TRIPLE to about $336 Billion.


Meanwhile, the United States Senate returns from their Thanksgiving recess to debate the greatly anticipated Health Care Bill. Of course, the financial aspects of the bill are of great concern to all parties - how much will it cost in the short term? How much will it save us down the road? Can we afford to wait any longer?

Well, I sure hope those Senators caught CNN's story about this University of Chicago study. Here is a great quote. Really, my favorite:

"It is estimated that if we could control diabetes we could save $217 Million dollars PER YEAR in health care costs."

And here is another one.

"What do we have to do to slow this increase in Diabetes cost and prevalence?" the News Anchor asks the reporter.

The reporter replies, "You know, there is nothing mysterious here. We're talking diet and exercise."

Now, I have proudly watched my mom get her pre-Diabetes condition turned around with some healthy diet and lifestyle changes in the last year. It wasn't easy, but she's doing it, so I know that it is possible! [Click here to read a previous post in which my mom wrote in about this experience.]

The big thing here is that if we are really going to ask people to do their part to help save our health care system (not to mention our economy and our planet) by changing their habits to avoid diabetes, we need to make it a bit easier on them.

  • Money: Good healthy food needs to be affordable. Maybe we could shift some of the federal subsidies from corn and soy and big farm production to make fresh local produce more affordable for a change?
  • Knowledge: People need to learn about health, food and cooking from informed and objective sources, not food advertisements. Maybe we could education people about nutrition in school so that they can make empowered decisions at the grocery store or (better yet) Farmers' Market?
  • Support: Healthy habits and life style changes must be rewarded and supported in our communities and our work places. What if you got an extra 15 minutes for your lunch break if you used that time to take a brisk walk outside? What if you saved money on your health care co-pays if you lost weight or got control of your Diabetes?
Who else has an idea for my list? What would make it easier for you or people you know to eat better and get healthier? I'd love to hear it!


  1. I think Convenience is a big one to add to the list. There are a ton of people in my office who heat up frozen Lean Cuisines for lunch every day. If healthy food were as quick, easy and cheap as these, I think a lot more people would be eating better for lunch.

  2. I for one is grateful to have such a knowledgeable cubicle mate. Very enlightning to hear about the excelleration of diabetes. I just recently found out that my favorite Aunt who currently has diabetes will have to start using insulent. Well I know she does watch her sugar intake. So my question is to her what else could she be doing to make her condition worse. I really think that age has alot to do with it. She is retired and not as active. So being mobile more often than not can cause her condition to worsen. I am happy to see that Julie is making us aware of these conditions so we can eat better and more exercise. You know what they say you will look just like your mother. Since my Aunt is my mother's twin sister, I have to keep that into account.

  3. Besides the two reason that gave another is the wide use of Corn syrup, even in food items that you'd never suspect.
    Personally with our skills as homesteaders a heathy diet is within our grasp, learning to ignore the desires isn't so easy.

  4. As a contributing cause to his relatively early death, my father had Diabetes Mellitus.

    Thanks for blogging about this. One other thing that needs to happen is the education of children about what is and isn't a healthy food choice. We need REAL and TRUTHFUL information from research not tainted by major food producing corporations or organizations who pay for it, thereby influencing the findings of said research.

    Difficult to break eating habits we've had all our lives and were taught by our families. Finding ways to educate parents and their children could be helpful. I could go on and on about this right now but I won't. Generally speaking, I live to eat. But I'm learning,little by little, to eat to live. It's hard. But I want to live.

  5. Starting with Lean Cuisine:

    Lena - I totally agree. Convenience is a huge piece of this puzzle. I have put a lot of time and effort into figuring out how to strike the right balance with time and money spent on food - and time is a HUGE piece. I have found that I can really get my prep time for a week of meals down to 1 Sunday cooking session, but many people are not even willing to do THAT. I agree that we have to look at how to make eating well more convenient, but I'd also like to see people prioritize eating well a little bit more, too. One's health is really worth the time investment, don't you think?

    Then comes pelenaka's comment about the corn syrup. Most convenient foods (like those damn Lean Cuisines... all too familiar in my office too!), as she points out, are highly processed and full of not-so-good ingredients.

    Bottom line on this one for me is that I really like to prepare my OWN versions of Lean Cuisine. Taking 3 hours on Sunday afternoon to chop veggies for the week and pre-prepare some lunches and dinners is simply worth it. I wind up at work with nutritious, Farmers' Market food that is just as easy to warm up as the highly processed store bought versions. (Of course, I can only do this because I have been fortunate enough to learn about cooking and health throughout my life. Not the case for a lot of people...)

    As for Diabetes (Wendy and David) - I really admire and get strength from your efforts to stay healthy. Thank you for sharing. As I have written, there is a ton of Diabetes in my family, too. I think that having these discussions and finding groups of people that support us in our healthy efforts is so so so vital in the quest for a healthy life. I know sharing my work space with Wendy, who shares my desire to eat well, has had a huge impact on my life and my ability to stick to my health goals. I hope you are both finding people in your life that make it easier for you to stay on track, too. And if you don't happen to have them in your kitchen or your cubicle... thank god for the comment section of blogs, eh?

  6. Hi,

    7.9% of the United States population is suffering from a form of Diabetes. That is over 23 million people! Now, more than ever, it is important for organizations such as yourself. We here, at Disease.com (a site dedicated towards disease and their treatments), believe in the work you do and would like to coincide for the fight against diabetes. If you could, please list us as a resource or host our social book mark button, it would be much appreciated. Separately, we can make advancements, but together we can find a cure.
    If you need more information please email me back with the subject line as your URL.

    Thank You,
    Sharon Vegoe