New Food World

17 Jan
Don't even think about it.

Don’t even think about it.

Today I had to start living in a new food world – one where my decisions about what to eat are not dictated by how I’m feeling at the moment. It’s no longer a case of do I want to be virtuous and have a Kale salad? Or do I want to be bad and have a scoop of McConnell’s Salted Caramel Chip? Neither of those options is open to me, because the only choices I can make are from the food that I was grateful to score at the Franklin Center yesterday. (Of which the value I estimated to be $80).

So it would have been great to start the day with a bowl of the Corn Flakes I got, but I have no milk. I might enjoy my bagel, but I have no butter. I could have another pear, but that was my focus yesterday. I’m not about to begin the pear diet. I am in a hurry to get to a meeting at work (although in my simulation, I would be going out to look for work) so I leave without eating any breakfast.

Once I can get some food stamps I can go and buy some of the things that are stopping me making good use of the food from the distribution. An onion, some oil to cook with. Some way of making culinary sense of the random items I received from the Franklin Center.

Trouble is, I’m not going to get any food stamps today. My ‘rush’ application went in, but there is no word today. I will have to devote time tomorrow to going in to the DSS and waiting there, maybe all day, in the hope of getting a cancellation, so I can be interviewed and have my application move forward. (In my simulation, I am not actually applying for food stamps because I haven’t actually lost my job and would be turned down. I am merely going through the stages, waiting what the typical wait would be and then keeping to a budget limit of $200 for the month, which is the equivalent of what I would receive).

Today I went window shopping for food. To plan some of the items I will get once my ship (or my stamps) come in. I live near Milpas Street which is a major commercial artery in Santa Barbara. State Street is the main drag with Saks Fifth Avenue and all the nice stores. Well, Milpas Street is the Latino State Street, with lots of local businesses. The only chain stores are fast food restaurants.

I am lucky in that Milpas has three grocery stores that are all within about 10 minutes walk of each other. I can try and stretch out my food stamps by comparison shopping. I drew up a list of key items that I would want to buy and then compared the prices at the stores:

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s

1. Trader Joes – Where the Californians get their nice little foodie snacks. It does have some basic items very cheap though. It is a question of picking the right things.

Fresh and Easy

Fresh and Easy

2. Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market – It’s not actually a neighborhood market, it’s a chain of mini-supermarkets that is actually owned by Tesco, a large British grocery company. (Which probably accounts for you being able to buy English chocolate there – good to know, but I doubt I’ll be able to afford that on the Food Stamp Diet. Fresh and Easy is the newest food store on Milpas Street. They have some bargains and they have specials that are about to go out of date at the end of each day, so I might have to start hitting the store at the right time.

Chapala Market

Chapala Market

3.Chapala Market – This is a midsize store that caters to virtually a completely Latino clientele. It is a locally owned store and I am glad that doing this challenge has given me the opportunity to start frequenting it. I have already spotted some significant bargains in areas as different as brown rice, rice vinegar and fresh produce.

The trick for me will be to get the right balance of items from the three stores…when I get my food stamps.

I have started reading what is a pretty appropriate for my situation book called ‘The End of Overeating’ about how the American public has been led to an addiction on sweet, salty and fatty foods by a short-circuiting of the mental processes that normally keep weight steady. And even better I got the book for a dollar from a sale at the local library.

Meal Log

Breakfast – Nothing

Lunch – bacon bagel – bacon is what I got at the distribution.

Dinner – Curried Cauliflower with watercress and plums. I had to put that cauliflower out of its misery and I though I would use some of my dried plums. It ended up sounding better than it tasted, because I had no onion to cook with it. No way of balancing the flavors.

5 Responses to “New Food World”

  1. Laura Wilson January 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Eric…why not Tri-Counties Produce? Fresh and Easy is just awful…very expensive and way over-packaged and Chapala has horrible produce. I hope you have a discussion of this at church this month–it would be enlightening for all of us!

    • Erik Talkin January 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

      I will be checking out Tri Counties Produce later in the challenge. I will be comparing produce prices there. Glad to have a discussion.

      • eatinginSB January 22, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

        Might be better to keep the challenge to places that accept EBT. I am not sure if TriCounties does. The 99 Cent store does not take EBT, but they have a surprising amount of produce. We often buy items there.

  2. Erik Talkin January 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Actually Tri County does accept EBT, which is why I will check it out, and why I can’t go to 99 cent store. Although it bugs me going there anyway, because all the food that you see in dollar stores used to be donated to food banks around the country, before manufacturers realized there was a ‘secondary’ market for these products.

    • ddsprncs January 25, 2013 at 4:41 am #

      That is really interesting to know. That has its pros and cons. Cons bad for food banks. Pros good for people in the middle. (not middle class, just a little too much money to be considered poor)

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