Symptoms already?

No- I don’t think it’s possible that I am already having physical symptoms as a result of my processed, unhealthy 4 bucks a day diet.  But I sure did have a mother of a headache today after lunch, and I don’t usually get headaches.

Water, a dark room and some peace and quiet did the trick.  I bet a glass of wine would have helped as well, but I don’t have enough money left to drink any alcohol.

I can’t blame the headache on the diet, but I’m pretty sure my all around crankiness today was in part due to this food stamp challenge.  I was tired and just wanted a nice cup of chai tea.  But I can’t afford a nice cup of chai tea.  I can only afford water or milk.  I was lethargic and whiny and I know fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains would have made me feel better.  I don’t know that they would have eased my headache… but I bet it would help.   I do know that hot dogs and canned baked beans do not make me feel good.

Today I ate:

  • oatmeal packet (I’ve never had oatmeal this sweet in my life)- .19
  • smoothie- .75
  • PB&J (I secretly love Wonder bread- and while this isn’t Wonder, it’s Wonderesque and wonderful!)- .35
  • carrots- .25
  • hard boiled egg- .34
  • baked beans- .50
  • hot dog- .26
  • milk- .54

Total for today: $3.35

I had a great conversation with a neighbor of mine who receives food stamps.  I asked her for examples of what she eats and how she manages to eat healthy, which she claims she does.  Her solution is to use her food stamps for non-perishable staples and go to St. Vincents or Glide Memorial to pick up free bags of perishable items like fruits and veggies.  She is unable to eat anything fresh unless she drives to a facility that hands out free healthy food.  What is the point of providing food stamps if they cannot be used for nutritious items?  Why assist people in need if the food choices they are given are detrimental to their health?

In my neighborhood we have the Mandela Food Co-op.  It is a wonderful shop that offers local goods, wholesome, fresh and affordable foods grown on family farms, nutrition education classes and a cooperative economic investment program that provides multi-level investment for community residents.  When we moved to West Oakland, we were members of a farm CSA- a program that allows people to buy “stock” in a farm and receive weekly boxes of produce directly from the growers.  As firm believers of voting with our money,  we decided to not have our money going to a farm in Dixon and instead put it directly into our neighborhood through buying all our produce from Mandela.  I have been fortunate to be able to afford local fresh fruits and veggies,  organic meats and bulk items, but on 4 bucks a day, I can’t afford to buy anything from there.  Their veggies are so fresh and amazing, but at 2.50 for a head of broccoli, just too expensive for someone on this budget.

Mandela sells bulk items, which is great for budgeting, but when their organic brown rice costs $2.39 a pound and the .99 cent store has processed white rice for .99 a pound- the obvious choice is to go for the cheaper, both in cost and quality, option.

This is the case with many items that are sold at both stores, and

while in my normal life I always choose to buy my groceries at Mandela, on 4 bucks a day, it just doesn’t cut it.

Chart retrieved from


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