Sunday, September 22, 2013

SNAP and "eating healthy"

As I sit to write this post I think back to the first posts that I wrote. How idealistic I was. How I thought that if I just tried hard enough if I just pinched my SNAP pennies, eating healthy would be, well a snap. It is possible to live differently. It is not easy and having a dose of privilege is a big help too. Now as all this controversy swirls around the proposed cuts to food stamps I want to share some simple truths with anyone who is willing to read them.

My family eats as healthy as we can. It's not because I have some high ideals or because I'm morally better than other food stamp recipients. Frankly, it's because I'm sick. I started on this journey because one day while sitting in my doctor's office after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia my doctor said "I can't guarantee that what you eat causes what's wrong with you but you need to start eating as organic as possible". This wasn't totally new information to me, by then I worked at a natural food co-op, the question was how do I afford that. We were having a hard enough time just trying to have balanced meals (that was something we had committed to years before). Now people will tell you that that's a fiction. That if poor people really want to they can eat healthy. They will point to studies and week long experiments that say people can eat healthy on a food stamp budget. I am telling you my lived experience tells me that they are wrong.

Here's why- good food costs money I have always said that on this blog. Yes there are ways to maximize your budget. However, when you are working with three dollars per person per day for your food budget please explain to me how you are supposed to have a healthy balanced meal three times a day with snacks. Not to mention meals devoid of processed foods and unhealthy foods.

The reason I say devoid of processed foods is because I keep hearing and seeing people say poor people who were on SNAP should not be "allowed" to buy "bad food" or "junk food". Let me share a secret in order for my family to eat healthy- I have to be strict about how much we eat, what we eat, and no junk snacks. That means literally telling my kids they can't have second helpings or giving them my food meaning I don't eat (people are probably surprised by that because I'm fat but my kids eat far more than I do). That's because a healthy food budget doesn't allow for the cheap things that keep poor people full.

Something I thought about the other day while watching liberals on Facebook discuss how people like me shouldn't buy this or that is how often the fights my kids have are about food. I mean that. My kids often fight about food. Don't get me wrong my children are not starving they are often still hungry (starving and not full are two different things). This is what happens when fruit is a luxury and second helpings can be too. Candy in our house can start a riot not only because it's rare but because once it's gone it really is: gone. Someone actually thought I didn't feed my kids once because my youngest often begs for the junk food she sees everyone else with.

I'm not sure if people realize that with three dollars a day people on SNAP who have food restrictions and dietary needs cannot meet them. People like my children who have food allergies. Which means food stamp staples like tuna and peanut butter are out of the question for them. People like my mother who has such complex needs I can't even list them all. People like me who has fibromyalgia and suspected lupus whose very illness is impacted by diet.

We are the people who some people seem not to have compassion for only shame and contempt (epic side eye to you Eric Cantor). Thing is with the country in an economic downturn the likelihood of you knowing someone on food stamps is really high. The likelihood of you knowing someone who has benefited from food stamps in their lifetime is really high.

Far from the caricature of the "welfare queen" we are normal people most of us have jobs, we are good parents, we are caregivers, we are productive members of society. I am not sure what kind of people write off the whole groups of other people as unworthy of having food. I will say if you are one of those people I'm not sure I want to know you.

So basically I just don't want to hear nonsense. I don't want to hear tired references to "welfare queen myths". I don't want to hear how if undeserving people weren't on the program than deserving people could be. That's not how it works. If you're angry about that and that the government hasn't expanded of eligibility then say that. However, that is not the fault of current recipients that is governmental failure. I don't want to hear about how there is rampant fraud in the food stamp program because there's not. I don't want to hear anything that isn't factually based or productive in the SNAP debate.

This debate can not be had devoid of facts and context because I am not a stereotype, my friends are not stereotypes, my children are not stereotypes, 45 million Americans are not stereotypes. We are people with names, with families, with needs. We deserve the minimum respect that people will have an honest fact-based debate.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Back in the saddle

We are back to planting! Our herb garden is up and running and the veggies are going in the ground late this year due to the crazy cold snaps we have had here in Mississippi. I have discovered I am really good at growing herbs though. The beauty of that is because we live in the south we our herbs pretty much grow year round. This came in really handy during cold and flu season this year when I was able to make my kids fresh sage and peppermint tea to relieve their congestion. There is something that feels great about knowing you are healing your family with something you made with your own hands that you grew in your own yard (clearly you can sooth your child just as well with the store bought herbs). More updates coming soon

Sunday, February 19, 2012

15 Fun Facts about my kids February 2012

This post comes out of a suggestion from my kids Kora and Korina age 17, Sarah 15, Kayla 14, Adrianne 11, Ajani 9 (only boy), Aolani 8 are growing so fast what a nice way to have a snapshot of this time.

 1) Kora thinks that we are making fun of her fun the way that she rocks and hums when she listens to music really we think it is quite entertaining and marvel at the fact that she can do it for hours.
2) Korina has the most amazing collection of art supplies and if you lose and type of writing instrument in the house chances are she has it.
3) We are all wonderfully excited that Kayla is finally embracing her family birthright as a nerd and has 1) become a fan of Star Trek and specifically Spock 2) suddenly needs to be told to stop reading and clean
4) Ajani loves all things creative, nerdy, and dealing with history so of course his newest discovery is D&D (dungeons and dragons)
5)Ajani also truly believes he's a super hero and so do I :)
6) Adrianne tells me everyday that she's growing up, its ok, and there's nothing I can do about it (wisdom).
7) Sarah has decided that she has her own style and trust me it has NOTHING to do with fashion mags.
8) I have caught my kids talking to other kids about healthy foods when they didn't know I was listening.
9) Aolani is in love with Yoda, but only as a friend.
10) I don't have to ask my kids to read they do it because they want to.
11) My kids think that organic apples are the best thing ever.
12) My kids think going to political speeches, protests, meetings, conferences, and events at the state capitol are normal.
13) Sarah has discovered Goddess based religion, Kayla is still a Baptist, I am a Buddhist diversity is alive in my children.
14) Adrianne knows how to sew, loves to do it, and is pretty good at it.
15) When I turn off the TV my kids don't pout they play games, draw, make up plays, and build stuff.
Yep they're pretty great!
 Had to add some extras
16) Adrianne wakes up at 4:30 like I do when no one else is up and we watch Dr. Who all by our selves
17)Aolani likes ANY version of Dr. Who and she and I watch old episodes no one else want to watch.
18) Kora comes in every morning and tells me everything that was on the morning news.
19) Kayla has just discovered strapless dresses, cardigans, and a strong feminist voice I love all of it!
20)Aolani likes boxers instead of undies :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Adventures in Container Gardening, ugh gardening!!!!! Time to plan for fall :)

So my beautiful organic garden was off to such a great start this year my strawberries had started to mature, my tomatoes were growing, and my lettuce was doing great, my flowers looked awesome!. Then the heatwave hit and my poor garden has been getting its butt kicked. My first problem is that we do not have a hose so we have to cart water out of the house to do all of our watering (for next year I am working on a rain collection system that I can use to irrigate).  Our second problem is that I did not anticipate the early heat that killed my lettuce and tomatoes I could've moved my tomatoes inside oh well lesson learned. So with all that said on to the good news my herbs are doing great and the tomatoes that did grow were awesome as well as the lettuce that we grew was great. Now I am working on planning my fall garden I am doing some container gardening but mostly planting in the back yard. This time I have plotted out my plan on graphing paper and thought more deeply about adding more compost and natural fertilizer to the soil whether it's through the use of fertilizer tea or my favorite low cost way watered down urine (1 part urine to 20 parts water works well for us) .  To assist in my planning my favorite resource is the from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture website in their publications page they have a produce availability and planting guide it breaks down each zone in the state and which plants should be planted when.  So that's where we are my kids are still having a blast they love eating everything we have grown and I am certainly NOT giving up.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Clean smarter, not harder, live longer

            To me it is only logical that if you are cleaning up the way you eat and getting healthier that you should also strive to limit the amount of chemicals you come into contact with each day. The best place to start is your house. Go through your house and look in every room and see how many chemicals you have in your house, seriously from the toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, air freshener, disinfectant spray, bleach, dusting spray, the list goes on.   
            My journey to using chemical free cleaners was not based on the environmental concerns I hold now.  I was only concerned in finding cleaners that would work without making my kids and I wheeze and giving me headache. I was at a homeschooling picnic when another mother introduced me to a mail order company that sold all natural cleaning products that she said had worked wonders in her house and stopped her family from getting sick after cleaning. This gave me pause I hadn't really thought about it before but every time I cleaned I got a headache if I did alot of cleaning all my kids needed breathing treatments, maybe she was on to something. So I started using those products and they worked great. She was right the headaches didn't occur after cleaning and no wheezing. My daughter's with eczema were even able to do dishes. As time went I found that I could use other products that were less costly and that I could simply make my own cleaners. So here are my favorite alternative money saving eco-friendly cleaners-
1) Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile Soap- this soap has soooooo many uses it doesn't even make sense but you can use it as a bodywash, shampoo, and in keeping with the purpose of this post you can use it to clean cabinets, counters, floors, walls, tables, toilets, tubs, just about anything even dishes (although IMHO Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds formula is a better dish liquid but it does contain sodium lauryl sulfate which is why it is so good at cutting grease). You can use it diluted half soap half water and it will still work effectively. You can make your own homemade soft scrub with water, baking soda, and Dr. B's and all purpose cleaning spray, as well as just adding a bit to a bowl or bucket of water and using it to do your cleaning of cabinets and whatever else.
           Castile Soap scrub recipe 
            1/4 cup soap
            1/8 cup water
            1/8-1/4 cup baking soda add until desired consistency
          All Purpose Spray
          32 oz bottle
           2oz Dr. B's
           30 oz water
           if you want you can add either a tsp of vinegar or baking soda to increase cleaning power
2) Vinegar- plain old white distilled vinegar is your friend! Not only can you make glass cleaner out of it but you can use it as a natural disinfectant. Yes some things may smell like pickles but at least it won't make you choke or sick like bleach.  Vinegar and water works good on sealed wood floors too. I use it in my laundry in place of fabric softener (I know its a bit much for some of you but if your chemical sensitive ya'll like it) it help get all the soap out of your clothes leaving them soft. I have a front load machine so I add a few drops of essential oil to the tray holding the vinegar if I want a scent (no I don't smell like pickles!)
           Window Cleaner
            32 oz spray bottle
            4-6 oz vineger
            fill with water
            *if you want a fragrance add 10-15 drops of lemon or orange essential oil*

3) If you are feeling truly advanturous you can make your own laundry soap I do! I started not only to save money but because y children have sensitive skin and eczema. Finding a good affordable fragrance free detergent was next to imposible. I started by using this woman's recipe  which now I have modified to my liking and to make it more concentrated. I use Kirk's Coco Castile Soap to make mine and it works great. We have been using it for over a year and love it!!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Adventures in container gardening part 4

So its basically spring time in Mississippi so it is time to start planting and that is exactly what we did. We planted our lettuce in litterbox pans, some carrots in a box I got from work, strawberries in a topsy turvy planter, started some seeds in a seed starter greenhouse, and potted mint and other herbs. Today maybe I will get my raised bed made with the help of my new drill (girl +power tools=awesome) so I can plant my broccoli, onions, more carrots, more lettuce, . I am looking forward to planting my potatoes in the tires at the beginning of the month. :-)

Monday, December 27, 2010

My homemade Christmas

This Christmas has been a challenge. Our budget is always tight but this year a little more than usual. Anyone who has ever tried to live a healthier live knows that it tends to cost a little bit more to live a healthier life. It is a price I am willing to pay. However, I have been blessed with awesome friends who stepped in and gave us a hand to help and make sure my children had a Happy Holiday.
     My dear cousin sent me a $50 gift card to WalMart right after we were given a tree we had NO decorations for. I figured I would pick up some decorations with the gift card, and still have money to get a few games or a craft for the kids, they couldn't cost that much right? As I looked at the items I thought about the fate of our decorations from last year. Our bulbs were broken and the garland had shed so all of it went in the trash. I think the lights I had a short in them and our angel is the only thing left she is actually broke.  So I made a decision I didn't feel the need to give the electric company extra money, just so I can worry that my tree will catch fire, and I am not buying tacky decorations that will get broke and I will buy again next year. So I took my gift card and I purchased some construction paper, glitter glue, ribbon, and used the rest  to purchase things for another craft project and went home. Off I went wondering if my kids would think I had lost my mind asking them to make a paper chain to use as garland and cut out and draw ornaments. Yet, as we sit in the living room making the paper chain my ten year old looked up at me and said "mom this is waaay better than buying stuff this is fun!" That is when I knew I made the right choice.
    We only get so many years when they are young and to create memories that they will carry with them forever. They won't necessarily remember that's the Christmas that we were broke but they will probably remember the time they spent with mom and their siblings making decorations on the living room floor listening to Christmas music thinking it was cool. Much how I thought my mom and I ate pancakes for dinner for fun when I was little not because that's all we had. One thing I have always tried to instill in my children is the ideal that what you own doesn't make you a better person we have been scaling back Christmas for a few years. Weird things happen when you focus on having less you get more, you get more love from one another, you get more time with one another, and the best for me was getting make memories with one another!