Eating Organic on a Food Stamps Budget

by Sarah Healthy Living, Healthy Pregnancy, Baby & ChildComments: 164

food stamps budget

My friend Irene, a hardworking single mother who also cuts my hair, is an absolute inspiration to me and I’m sure many others fortunate enough to cross her path.

Moms like Irene silence all the naysayers like Dr. Oz who claim that it isn’t possible to eat healthy on a very tight budget or that those who eat organic are elitist.

You see, Irene is on food stamps.

Irene’s situation is not at all rare anymore.  The number of Americans on food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as it is now called, has increased by 260% since 2000.  In a more sobering statistic, the actual number of people relying on food stamps to eat has increased from 17.1 million in 2000 to over 44 million in 2011.

Despite Irene’s challenging budget which includes food stamps, she manages to buy nearly everything local and/or organic to prepare the healthy, homemade meals she prepares.


By refusing to settle for anything less than the best for herself and her son and by using creativity and streetsmarts to carefully plan and implement her food stamps budget strategy.

When you demand the best and refuse to settle, as Irene does, the world frequently seems to open up to you with opportunities and people necessary to fulfill your goal suddenly coming across your path.

Irene also gets competent alternative medical care by shrewdly trading hairdresser services for routine chiropractic care which has prevented her family from requiring any conventional medical treatment or antibiotics or other drugs for quite some time.

How does Irene do it?  How does she manage to source only the most nutrient dense foods for her family including more expensive, gourmet items like grassfed raw milk and butter while on food stamps?

The brilliance of Irene’s food stamps budget plan is in its incredible simplicity.

  1. Irene has learned which farmer’s markets around town accept food stamps and so she buys much of her produce at these venues.  She also buys fresh, locally made, artisanal bread at the farmer’s market.   Yes, it’s true!  You can use food stamps at many farmer’s markets if you just ask around!
  2. Irene buys her grassfed meats and bones to make stock at Whole Foods.  Did you know Whole Foods takes food stamps?  Another option would be for Irene to split a cow sourced at a local grassbased farm with one or two friends.  This may present itself as an option for Irene in the future, but for now, Whole Foods is the best stand-in source for her meats given her limited time and storage space.
  3. Irene has figured out which healthfood stores carry what organic brands at the best prices.  She uses her food stamps to buy foods like freshly ground almond butter, raw honey, cheese and other staple items this way.
  4. Irene uses the food funds she is able to contribute herself for raw dairy which is not covered by food stamps (although I do know of one other friend in town who is able to buy raw goat milk with food stamps because she is allergic to cow milk).
  5. If Irene finds that she must buy something at the supermarket, she makes sure that it is a low spray item like asparagus or a GMO free item based on analysis of the ingredients label.

Hat’s off to Irene for showing us all how to eat healthy during hard economic times.  Her refusal to accept anything less than the best, nutrient dense fare for herself and her family is the line in the sand that opens the door to solutions.

Well done Irene!

Are you on a food stamps budget too?  What are your tricks for eating healthy, local, and/or organic despite this challenge?  Please share to inspire those who may be facing a similar situation.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Picture Credit

Comments (164)

  • judy

    Looked in my #1 go-to source and found the detailed info I need re eating real food on a budget – food that features pastured meat, eggs, butter and all those other “expensive” foods that don’t have to be sacrificed when dollars are few. All the details are at

    April 23rd, 2015 4:31 pm Reply
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  • Michelle McGrath White via Facebook

    If we were on good stamps we would get a LOT more money for food than we have in our budget now. But, we do not rely on the government for hand outs.

    August 8th, 2014 2:30 pm Reply
    • Cinnamon

      Did you know that the majority of government money goes to the rich in the former of tax breaks, bailouts to corporations. It’s called wealthfare. Government assistance for the poor is a small portion of government money. Just food for thought!

      November 8th, 2014 3:01 pm Reply
      • cat

        Well said!=] …some people are so ignorant and don’t realize that everyone has their own share of shortcomings! I’m a full-time college student, with a 3.96 GPA, and rely on food stamps to eat! My life chances didn’t include a BMW or home to call my own and my mother, well she’s a single mother of two and worked MULTIPLE jobs just to get by! I know that my situation is temporary and once I attain a stable career and descent income I’ll be able to stand on my own two feet.

        The beauty of America is the number of resources available to those in need and MAINTAIN this country in equilibrium!

        Please don’t blame the poor, blame the government and corporate elites that contribute to the outsourcing of jobs in America and use the poor as scapegoats!!

        July 14th, 2015 3:00 pm Reply
    • cat

      Good for you ! You want a cookie?! Don’t judge others unless you KNOW their situations and life chances!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 14th, 2015 2:49 pm Reply
  • Lysia Jones via Facebook

    I BUY DEER FOR MY MEaT aND RaISe chickens.

    August 8th, 2014 12:27 pm Reply
  • Lori Davis via Facebook

    I don’t get assistance, but I am struggling to buy these foods. What I would like to see is a detailed article that would show how much she budgeted and the math for it, not just a story.

    August 8th, 2014 11:29 am Reply
  • Anne Loftfield via Facebook

    I did not see soda, chips, or frozen entrées on her list. . .could that be her secret?

    August 8th, 2014 10:29 am Reply
  • Heidi JB via Facebook

    It may be possible for people on food stamps, but there are those who fall a bit short of receiving assistance. That’s when it gets really hard because every single penny has to be pinched. There’s not always a lot of room leftover for local or organic.

    August 8th, 2014 10:21 am Reply
    • Raven

      Meijer sells organic stuff for the same price as other stores sell non-organic stuff, some fresh and frozen produce do not need to be organic, and Whole Foods has some sales that make things not-quite-so-insanely prices, as well as extremely cheap spices and dried things in some of the bulk bins. However, if you are using your own money anyway, then you might as well do the “buy huge cartons of thy’re on sale and are sold in large packages” thing, and all the other things that fake alleged “poor people” blogs always write about that don’t apply to anyone who actually has little money. If you’re not on food stamps, that that means you make some amount of money that allows you to do things such as buy things from gas stations sometimes or pay for a bus, and therefore you should be able to afford the things that are listed on these blogs.

      April 29th, 2015 4:00 am Reply
  • An Organic Wife via Facebook

    I work at a farmers’ market on Fridays and we occasionally have people that pay with food stamps. I think it’s great.

    August 8th, 2014 10:17 am Reply
  • Sarah Byrd via Facebook

    What a blessing for her! Glad she can do it! I was told I made $114 too much a month, lol. Plus we work with Gluten, Corn, and Soy allergies. So basically we do what we can and hope springs eternal to go all organic one day 😉

    August 8th, 2014 9:59 am Reply
    • Raven

      …And yet gluten and soy are things you should never be touching anyway, and corn is rarely available in any healthy, toxin-free product, so of course those thins are completely irrelevant since everyone else who cares about health is also not able to use them!

      April 29th, 2015 4:03 am Reply
  • Irene

    I am a very hard working mommy. My goal is to be completely independent of course but like any business it takes hard work and time to build. :-) I don’t qualify for food stamps all the time. There are ups and downs in life. I am very blessed its there if we are in need temporarily. Thanks again for all your support and encouragement. :-)

    March 24th, 2013 8:50 pm Reply
  • Irene

    Thank you so much for all your encouraging words and more info. So many useful information.

    March 24th, 2013 8:26 pm Reply
  • Lillian

    What is a CSA? I live in BC Canada. I am a single mom who works part time and am supplemented by income assistance. I also live in a small town, we don’t have food stamps here. We are fortunate to be able to grow a lot of our own meat. (Goat, lamb, chicken, turkeys and rabbit.) And plant gardens.

    December 28th, 2012 1:12 pm Reply
    • Eliza

      CSA is community supported agriculture. It can be a single farm or a co-op of farmers (mine is a co-op). I pay up front for the season. It works out to about $25 a week for a ton of organic veggies (more than my family of 4 can use in a week, and much fresher and less expensive than is what is in the store).

      it is “community supported” because we, the CSA members, are the community which helps support the farmers. It is a win-win. The farmer is paid up front so it helps with their cash flow and also risks of crop failure. The community shares in the abundance OR the crop failure (so there is a risk, but with a co-op the risk is fairly small) and thus the farmer stays in business, which benefits the farmer AND the community.

      December 28th, 2012 1:22 pm Reply
  • Luciana

    It reminds me of a senator here in Brazil who said that for poor people to eat at all they have to accept GMO and chemicals on their food. Disgusting!
    Love the blog!

    December 27th, 2012 8:21 pm Reply
  • Alex Sullivan

    My family of four lives on a very limited food budget. Although we don’t receive food stamps, we probably come close to qualifying. For us, the Amish community has been a tremendous resource. We are able to get 3 gallons of raw milk and a pound of butter every week for only $62/month! We also purchased from them a quarter of an organic, grassfed cow for $2.65/lb. We also shop at two extremely reasonably priced Amish stores which carry local and organic bulk foods. We have to drive an hour every week to the area where our Amish friends live, but it is so incredibly worth it. They have been such a blessing.

    December 25th, 2012 10:34 pm Reply
  • David

    This is a nice story of eating healthy, but a terrible story of business.

    Sarah you state “By refusing to settle for anything less than the best for herself” that your haridresser eats well and “Her refusal to accept anything less than the best, nutrient dense fare for herself and her family is the line in the sand that opens the door to solutions.” Then she shouldn’t be on food stamps in the first place. By your own account of this persons brains and determination they should be able to run a profitable business so that she could make enough to sustain a living.

    If she doesn’t make enough right now then she needs to either provide more service or charge more for what she is providing. She obviously believes herself worthy of healthy food (a wonderful belief everyone should have), then she should believe she is worthy of a fair price for her service. The same quotes above that you state she used for eating healthy also apply to her business. This is the basic of what America was founded on. Not only have the large bailouts and subsidized businesses lost their way but so have the small business providers.

    I wish her well and hope you take this comment as a friendly reminder of what made the US great.

    December 24th, 2012 7:35 pm Reply
    • Alex Sullivan

      I think you are assuming too much, the details about this woman, the area she lives, her specific situation or capabilities, that people wouldn’t leave her establishment if she charged more, that she’s not already working a lot of hours, etc. Stop vilifying food stamps; that’s not what this post is about.

      December 25th, 2012 10:41 pm Reply
      • David Eagen

        Wow Alex you read what you wanted from my post. I am not vilifying food stamps. I am not a tea party person who doesn’t believe in any government support, or any government at all which it seems some are wanting now. I am neither a liberal nor a conservative, I am vehimently independent. I believe that in some circumstances food stamps are not only a good short term idea but a necessary one.

        I know of 2 single women who support their family by being a hairstylist and 1 women is the main bread winner as her husband gets part time or seasonal work and none of them live on government assistance.

        If some of her customers leave because her prices go up then she can’t help that, but most if not all will stay and new ones will come. If some people can’t afford the higher prices then deals can be made for services (just like she does with the chiropractor).

        Providing more service does not mean working more hours. The boy who used to deliver groceries and “invented” a method of having the customers do their own shopping to help stop the mistakes and make it faster. He became an entrepreneur and opened up a new store. This didn’t require more work hours. Henry Ford didn’t ask his workers to work more hours, and in fact he didn’t even require them to work that much faster or harder, he invented a system just was able to co-ordinate them into working together at a reasonable pace Woolworths five and dime was created by someone who thought about selling inventory that wasn’t moving at a reduced price instead of throwing it away. This creative thinking/invention didn’t require more hours of work.

        Your right I don’t know all her details. I don’t know if her husband just died and she is having a tough time dealing with it. I don’t know if she is dissabled. I don’t know if her shop just burnt down, but I do know what the article states and that is expressly shown in my statement. This women showed that she is smart enough (creative/inventive) and determined enough to make eating healthy on food stamps work when everyone said that it was not possible and that when she focused her mind then the doors just opened up. My whole point is that she can bring the same attituted to her entrepreneurial endeavors and the same will happen; her mind will focus, doors will open and she will be successful.

        December 26th, 2012 3:01 pm Reply
        • Staceyjw

          Oh, another “just be smarter/faster/better/more entrepreneurial/harder working, then you will be just fine!”
          I hate this attitude, because it assumes that if one isn’t doing well, it’s because they must be inferior in some way, or just not working hard/smart enough.
          I wish this were true, but it’s ridiculous.

          December 28th, 2012 7:53 pm Reply
          • David

            Really, that is all that you think of my comment.

            Does it really take that much intelligence to figure out that you are running your own business and that this will be the income you will be living off of? Does it take that much intelligence to know that it takes charging X amount of dollars in order to survive and make a living wage and that if you don’t charge enough you won’t be able to survive? I guess I overestimated the effort and intelligence it takes to take food stamps and make it stretch out to a healthy way of eating.

            Why is it OK to support her in her great effort in life on eating healthy, but when it comes to cheering her on to keep up the great attitude and effort and transfer it over to her business then you vilify?

            Just make sure that you take whatever you want out of my comments and make some kind of excuse and keep people down and dependent on someone (or the government) in order to survive. It feels much better being dependent on someone or an organization than doing it on your own.

            December 29th, 2012 3:23 pm
    • Lori

      I wondered myself how long the food lasts that she gets, then? Because raw milk, butter, etc are very expensive.

      August 8th, 2014 11:17 am Reply
    • Kimberly

      What made this country great was 400 years of free labor on the backs of slaves, not demanding a fair price for the services one offers. That allowed this nation to generate wealth and establish itself as a superpower. The ability to have the freedom to create businesses and wealth now are indirectly tied to that uncomfortable truth.

      The idea of what this nation is founded on and can be versus the reality of it was and is and should be are vastly different. Here’s to hoping we can truly live up to our ideals.

      August 15th, 2014 4:46 pm Reply
    • judy

      Agree with Dave. But unlike Dave, I’m not going to be tactful. A person savvy enough to eat organic on a SNAP budget should be savvy enough to figure out how to increase her income and get off SNAP. But maybe Irene is content to live on other people’s money. Yes, Irene is spending my money and your money to buy her groceries. If SNAP is a permanent way of life for Irene, rather than a temporary safety net, as was the program’s original intent, then the taxpayers supporting Irene are being duped. It appears that cutting hair is a hobby of Irene’s rather than a vocation and without SNAP (and maybe rent subsidy as well) Irene would have to get training and acquire a skill with a higher market value. Providing a service or product that people need and will pay for is what makes an economy strong and a community vibrant. So, Irene, use your street smarts and get off the dole.

      April 22nd, 2015 11:07 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    I’m a small vendor at a farmer’s market in the midwest. Since I usually only have a few vegetables to sell and my main thing is flowers, I actually wish people would try to bargain with me. It seems that customers aren’t used to going to me for veggies and look at the bigger vendors. I hate to go home with produce and end up throwing some away if I can’t give it to the food pantry. So strike up a conversation with the farmer’s market vendors. Flattery will get you a good deal! Ask if the vendor will mark it down if you come back at the end.
    Also, I’ve been volunteering at the food pantry this Xmas season. During the summer, a group has a community garden that sends their food to the food pantry. I think it’s great but there’s not much fresh in the winter. Walmart now donates their day-old bakery items along with a couple other small stores and that really bothers me. Are empty calories better than none? How hard is it to resist cakes, white bread & pies if it’s given to you for free?

    December 23rd, 2012 4:45 pm Reply
  • Susan

    Out of curiousity, how much does she get per month in food stamps? It varies from state to state, county to county…

    December 22nd, 2012 9:16 pm Reply
  • Scrappin Gramma via Facebook

    dr oz–pfft what a joke–wonder which big chem company bought him off

    December 22nd, 2012 2:47 pm Reply
  • Egle Fuller via Facebook

    It all comes to priorities… If your priority is to provide health to your family then you will find ways..most choose convenience and come up with excuses to justify their choice…don’t tell me that head of cabbage, bag of onions and soup bones are cheaper then junk you buy and you could make so many great, filling meals out of that!!
    Dr Oz is just a mirage, he pretends to support healthy ways but if you are a critical thinker very fast you would know he is not all that..

    December 22nd, 2012 11:29 am Reply
  • jenI

    I think something to remember is that not all Farmers at the Farmer’s Market sell organic. I live in NYC and I only recently found that the Farmer’s Market I was shopping at only had ONE organic stall. This was a big shock to me. That is when I researched and found a CSA which accepted food stamps.

    December 22nd, 2012 10:44 am Reply
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  • Deb Holter via Facebook

    What I am “DR OZ” is not full of pesticides…

    December 22nd, 2012 1:15 am Reply
  • Joy Beth

    My family of 4 is currently on food stamps. I have two children on the autistic spectrum, and we have multiple allergies. My husband has been unemployed for over 3 years, and we have exhausted his unemployment benefits and all of our savings, and had to move in with my parents. We paid into the system for over 20 years each, so I don’t have a problem with taking government assistance now that we desperately need it. Quit judging people when you don’t know their circumstances.

    I refuse to feed my children garbage, just because it’s cheap. We do not have money for any supplements, so everything our bodies need has to come from food. I do my best to buy organic and always non-GMO. We eat a lot of less-meat and meatless meals, and meals centered around a large amount of meat are gone for good. Buying healthy can be done on a budget.

    I shop at Costco, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s once a month, sharing the gas and Costco membership with a friend. Then I shop at Wal-mart, Dillon’s, Price Chopper, and Aldi’s for their limited good deals each week. I never turn down free food (got organic pears from a friend’s tree and free pumpkins from Whole Foods right after halloween, they were just chucking them in the compost bin!). I cook 3 meals a day from scratch, and I have learned how to can. It can be done, but it’s hard, and we’ve had to drastically change how we eat.

    Our local farmer’s markets do take food stamps (May through October), but their prices are out of my reach. I just do the best I can with what I have. I prioritize grass-fed dairy first, organic chicken and ground beef second (can’t afford grass fed, will skip meat if we have to, I stretch meals with bone broths made from the organic chicken bones and can get 5-6 meals from one chicken), and non-GMO grains third. If organic fruits and veggies are on sale, I’ll get them, otherwise I go with conventional (except for those that are GMO — corn, zucchini, yellow squash, etc.). I had my first garden (container) this year, but it didn’t do too well, it was too hot. I’m hoping next year will be better.

    It would be cheaper for sure if we didn’t value our health. :(

    December 21st, 2012 11:24 pm Reply
    • jfoutch

      Joy Beth, it sounds like you’re doing a fabulous job of feeding your family healthy food. Best wishes and happy holidays to you and your family.

      December 21st, 2012 11:44 pm Reply
  • Donna

    One more thing….for those who do have access, Costco has really done an amazing job of bringing in organics in bulk….they’ve saved us some serious money as well.

    December 21st, 2012 10:03 pm Reply
  • Donna

    We are not on food stamps but are a 1 income family with a very tight budget. We switched to all organic 1 year ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We found that after our bodies got used to the organic, we didn’t need to eat the same quantities that we ate before. Incorporating more vegetarian meals and eliminating sugar in our diet has also helped keep costs lower. We also make a lot of things from scratch and shop all of the health/natural food stores for sales. We used to tell ourselves that organic was too expensive…until I was diagnosed. Amazing how that changes our priorities!

    We haven’t associated yet with any local farmer’s markets but we’ll be checking that out after reading this article! Somehow, we have made it work AND because of our complete life style and diet change (that’s right no chemo or radiation…all diet!), I am now at low risk for reoccurrence! BTW, to one of the angry, bitter people before me….there are MANY regular grocery stores that do food stamps that also carry organics.

    December 21st, 2012 9:57 pm Reply
  • Beatrice Margarita Venturanza Lapa via Facebook

    It’s really the negative labeling of people that’s bothersome about Dr. Oz’s comments. It’s the same as when vegan Nazis (not all vegans are like this) judge other people’s food choices. In our office, our CEO and CFO are vegans but they respect everyone’s food choices. Comments like Dr. Oz’s just promote negativity.

    December 21st, 2012 9:13 pm Reply
  • Melissa Weber

    I am a single mom of 2 on food stamps. I live in FL and get raw milk (pet milk) at a farmers market on food stamps (lucky, dont know how). Some weeks I can not get up to the market which is an hour away so I will buy a large organic rice milk at Walmart for $3.46 and organic butter for $4.99 lb to go in my kids hot cereal. When I hit the farmers market I go directly to their bargain section that offers dollar produce. It is produce that may be on its way out. I stock up on items like bell peppers or berries or other things that I can flash freeze. It saves me a bunch. I buy raw nuts at our local health food store in the bulk section and I started making chicken bone broth. I use for our gluten free baking goods like bobs red mill because they have the best prices for that stuff and free shipping. It is hard but when I am really strict I can get 3/4 of the way through the month on food stamps and that only leaves me one week to make our food budget on my waitress’ pay. We just get by every month but eat healthy and have a nice little 2 bdrm house with a yard and tire swings in a good school district.

    December 21st, 2012 7:52 pm Reply
    • Missy


      In my former life I was a vegan, and I would make my rice milk from scratch. Obviously raw cows milk is superior but if you are in a pinch and need to use rice milk you should try making your own, it’s super easy and will be much cheaper for you then having to buy it at Walmart. Also you will know exactly is in your rice milk when you make it home. I am going to try and attach a link to vegan reader which is where I learned to make rice milk, it’s a super easy recipe, plus a lot of great info on why you should make your own. Hope this helps you save some cash!

      December 23rd, 2012 12:40 am Reply
  • Matty

    Irene may find organic veggie dealers who accept food stamps, but to assume
    this is easy is only to fool yourself. I live in Wash DC area and none of the
    organic farmers take food stamps, they do not want to do necessary paperwork.
    Once a year a program gives extra food stamps to us, but not one organic
    farmer at the markets want anything but hard, cold cash. Whole Foods benefits
    greatly from food stamps despite their way inflated prices. How many of those
    responding actually use and count on food stamps? I wonder because only those
    who have no clue what using food stamps is like, really know how foolhardy your
    article is.

    December 21st, 2012 7:46 pm Reply
    • Susan

      Our farmer’s markets here in Co accept food stamps and we are also allowed to use them to also purchase seeds and some canning materials (I think). I wish I could use them in WY to get raw milk (it’s legal to retail it there), but I don’t think they are transferrable.
      We get $62 a week for a family of 4. It’s hard to eat for a family of 4 for that kind of money, whether you eat junk or real food. We fortunately can manage to add a little bit to it each week. We have chickens for our eggs and I sell the extra to friends and add that money to the grocery money also. I work part time also but that money has to go to bills. Let’s face it, this economy is a disaster and the government can’t do it all. I’d prefer they stay out of our economy, let it recover & we’ll bring in way too much money to qualify.

      December 22nd, 2012 2:20 pm Reply
      • Jennifer J

        Susan, they are transferable. You can use your EBT card in any state.

        December 23rd, 2012 3:43 am Reply
  • Jennifer

    I tell my patients all the time how easy it is to live within your budget AND eat REAL food. I myself have been doing an experiment over the past year where I spend only what a family of four (my size family) would get per week on food stamps. In Texas, it’s $167/week. By planning my meals, buying my meat in bulk from a farmer, raw milk, eggs, etc from my community co-op, and using other buying strategies like building meals around what is already in my fridge/pantry, I routinely stay at or usually below that budget. This is for our breakfast, lunch and dinner for 7 days!

    December 21st, 2012 7:40 pm Reply
    • jeana

      Buying meat in bulk requires you to have a large sum of money all at once. Something you can do in a theoretical experiment but not in real life on food stamps. Nor would the farmer be able to take food stamps.

      December 21st, 2012 8:46 pm Reply
      • Staceyjw

        A budget with that much cash upfront is not the same as SNAP….
        The best way to get low prices are not possible on SNAP- buying a share of farm animals upfront, or crop share, or buying in bulk. CSAs and farm markets are great, but they aren’t the lowest cost possible.

        If you are getting max SNAP, you are probably more worried about keeping a ROOF over your head, as it means you have no income.

        December 28th, 2012 7:42 pm Reply
    • Jennifer J

      Your family would only get that much money on food stamps if you had NO income. No way to pay rent, gasoline, anything!! It is an imaginary number. Right now, my family of three gets $260 a month. That is about $65 a week. We also have to feed nine daycare children two meals and two snacks five days a week. We don’t get extra to do that.. It just floors me how ignorant people are about how the food stamp program works.

      December 23rd, 2012 3:41 am Reply
      • Chrissy

        I agree. Living within our means is a daily goal and sometimes a challenge, with three young sons and a teenage son. We do the best we can and all any of us can do is to hope the same of others. By living conservatively now we are able to save for leaner times that might be coming. All of that said, I suppose I would use food stamps if I had no other choice, and it is good that people are able to use them to make good choices…but we would exhaust every other option before having the government in our lives in that way. In fact, having been eligible for food stamps since the birth of our second son, we have explored most options at this point!

        January 22nd, 2013 10:05 pm Reply
      • Chrissy

        How is feeding the nine daycare kids relevant? If you are running a business (which I have to assume you are) then the weekly cost of feeding each child should be included in what the parents pay you…or you are just babysitting for fun. Having run a preschool I know the cost of feeding nine children in this manner.

        January 22nd, 2013 10:09 pm Reply
  • Blanca Villanueva Perez via Facebook

    What does it make him, Monsanto, the FDA, USDA, big pharma, & the govt? I am an elitist & snob for my health, their fraken “vegs”, “meats”, “poultry”, “fish”, and “herbs” have made me sick!

    December 21st, 2012 7:06 pm Reply
  • jeana

    One thing many don’t understand about food stamps is that, for example, if you’re a family of four you don’t get a set amount if you qualify. You can qualify at varying levels and recieve more or less. When I lost my job (I’m a single mom with two children) my family of 3 recieved over $130/week in food stamps. When I got a part time job that amount went down to about $85/week. Then when I went full-time it went down to about $55/week. Just because we were a family of 3 didn’t mean we recieved a certain amount. It depends on what you’re making. Now child support has started again and thank God I don’t qualify at all. When I did have food stamps it thrilled me that I could use them at the farmer’s mkt., the health food store, Costco etc. I hope I never have to use food stamps again but if I do, I’m thankful they are available and I know how to get the most out of them.

    December 21st, 2012 6:56 pm Reply
  • Silvia Martinez Roybal via Facebook

    I love this!!! Organic food for everybody!!!

    December 21st, 2012 6:54 pm Reply
  • Tami

    The government currently spends about $30.60 per hour on welfare compared to the median income of $25.03 per American worker according to a study by Congressional Research Service. The story is not about individuals. It is a story of “sustainability” and truly keeping it “local.” This isn’t about individual cases like Irene and so many others who cannot make ends meet. This is about an incredibly wasteful government that discourages people like Irene from ever having the opportunity to escape the welfare. We are bankrupt and hyper-inflation is coming; and if I were on assistance, I’d be totally freaking out for my future. My grocery comparisons from last year to this year are showing 26% overall increase per ounce of food–and this includes my livestock feed. We must take care of each other–the government cannot do this for us.

    December 21st, 2012 5:40 pm Reply
    • Ellen

      Great post Tami. The best one yet.

      December 21st, 2012 6:51 pm Reply
    • Helen T

      The government pays for wars and bailouts, they can throw us a dime now and then.

      December 22nd, 2012 10:34 am Reply
      • Susan

        NOT relevant to the conversation.

        December 22nd, 2012 2:09 pm Reply
        • Helen T

          Sure is: We the PEOPLE used to mean something in government – but we’ve been co-opted by corporate interests. If this hadn’t happened, we might be able to buy SOMETHING good for us at the supermarkets instead of having to proactively source out nutritional food.. Organic should be the norm.

          December 23rd, 2012 7:59 am Reply
    • Staceyjw

      “I were on assistance, I’d be totally freaking out for my future”
      WE ARE.
      But I fail to see how more worry is going to help us.
      Even without inflation, there is no safety net, so homelessness for our family is a constant worry. It shouldn’t be this way.

      We, as Americans, can, and must, do better.

      December 28th, 2012 7:37 pm Reply
  • Kay F Hoffman via Facebook

    I’m very happy for this lady and her child. I’m proud of her for finding a way to make it work but I have tried and it doesn’t work for my family. My husband eats a lot more than a child and there just isn’t enough money in our budget to buy organic. I wish I could make it work because I would love to not put this poison in our bodies but we just don’t have the money, I have tried. I’d love it if I had someone like Sara near me who could help me try. It would be wonderful to not have to eat and put all that poison in our bodies.

    December 21st, 2012 5:26 pm Reply
  • Oana Rusu Tomai via Facebook

    That’s the problem with the so called doctors such as this “media personality” (what a notion!). They are foolish and wrong.

    December 21st, 2012 4:58 pm Reply
  • Susanna Martin

    We are not on food stamps, but we have a limited food budget. The majority of our grocery money goes to raw milk, farm eggs, cheeses, and grass-fed meats and butter. We eat a vegetarian meal 2-3 times a week because we couldn’t afford to buy meat for those meals, but we honestly don’t even miss it. We a lot of farm eggs and natural peanut butter on sourdough bread. My daughter and I usually have rice, risotto, soup cooked with homemade stock, or leftovers for lunches, and my husband has leftovers as well. I don’t necessarily seek out only organic produce, but I buy it if it’s available. I make my own kefir and sometimes yogurt as well. Whenever I buy a chicken, I cut it up myself and save the carcass for stock. We save our farm egg shells for stock also. We don’t have a ton of variety in our diet, but we get what we need! When we were a two-income family, we ate a lot less healthy: weekly processed meals and packaged side dishes, and store-bought baked goods, etc. Now we can’t afford to buy that, and even if we could, I wouldn’t bring it into my house anymore! There’s a whole lot of info I have learned about healthy eating! PS. Three foods we do not skimp on are fermented cod liver oil, fish eggs, and grass-fed butter! My 2-year-old eats fish eggs every morning on her peanut butter and jelly toast. I don’t think she even noticed yet. :)

    December 21st, 2012 4:41 pm Reply
    • Helen T

      Fish eggs + peanut butter and jelly toast? Wow, that’s one incredible taste sensation.
      SOMEDAY I might work up the courage to try it!

      December 21st, 2012 4:56 pm Reply
    • Susan

      Why/how do you use the eggshells in making stock? We also make our own yummy stock. Sometimes we use a non-organic chicken, but usually they are organic. I managed to get almost 50 cups of lovely, gelatinous stock from a 25 lbs Tgiving turkey.

      December 22nd, 2012 2:02 pm Reply
    • Susan

      And what kind of fish eggs and where do you get them?

      December 22nd, 2012 2:02 pm Reply
  • Eve Racoma via Facebook

    It’s amazing how when a family eats all organic and non processed foods they eat less. You dont need a pound of meat for each person at the dinner table nor a entire box of mac n cheese. Eat healthy and your body rewards you in soooo many ways. And I find it to be cheaper in the long run. I rather put the money in our grocery budget rather than our medical budget 😉

    December 21st, 2012 4:39 pm Reply
  • Elena Boyko Gallenberger via Facebook

    So disappointed with Oprah for making him famous.

    December 21st, 2012 4:38 pm Reply
  • Angela Boblitt via Facebook

    It is a poor choice of articles to rebuttal Dr. Oz.

    December 21st, 2012 4:34 pm Reply
  • Angela Boblitt via Facebook

    Denise – this article does not prove that- at all.

    December 21st, 2012 4:33 pm Reply
  • Denise Borgeson via Facebook

    No she didn’t need extra money to buy organic, she needed help to buy any food at all. She has so little money that she’s eligible for food stamps. She’s not upper class, not middle class, not lower middle class but living in poverty which is why she’s qualified to receive food stamps. She doesn’t state what her exact food budget is but national averages suggest that it’s probably around $30 a week for her family of 2. I understand there are probably many other thrifty people who can keep their cash food budget in that neighborhood, but I wouldn’t say they represent the average family. Dr Oz’s point was basically that only the well-to-do can afford to eat organic, this article is proof that is just not true.

    December 21st, 2012 4:27 pm Reply
  • Anastasia @ eco-babyz

    I wish we qualified for food stamps. I gasped the other day when I found out how much a family of four gets to spend on food with food stamps, three times more than we spend on our tight budget. We can’t spend more than $50 – $70 a week for the 4 of us. That’s usually less than $10 a day, what can you get for that for 3 meals? There’s just not a whole lot of room for what we want. We buy mostly organic, but we can’t buy local because the prices at farmers markets are twice what we buy in this area. Farmers markets are truly a luxury around here (MA).

    December 21st, 2012 4:24 pm Reply
    • Staceyjw

      We get $270 a month for a family of 4. Its not that much, but is enough for us.
      You can get more if you have zero income, but most people on SNAP are actually working poor.

      December 28th, 2012 7:32 pm Reply
  • Kati Stiles Carter via Facebook

    If she was on food stamps, she needed extra money to buy GMO and factory farmed foods too. Btdt

    December 21st, 2012 4:08 pm Reply
  • Angela Boblitt via Facebook

    Denise, what?!? I for one think it is great how the author is spending her food stamp money – can’t think of a better way to spend it. That said – YES is does reinforce Dr. Oz point. He says you need extra money to but organic – and that is exactally what the author of this article needed to buy organic – extra money.

    December 21st, 2012 3:57 pm Reply
    • Dianne

      Angela – The author of this article is Sarah Pope; she’s writing about her hair stylist (not herself). The subject of the article evidently needs (qualifies for) assistance in order to buy food of any description. The point is that it’s possible to buy organic food on a limited budget; the food stamps just bring her income up to a (low) level – from a below low level. And one doesn’t “rebuttal” anything; one rebuts it.

      December 21st, 2012 8:34 pm Reply
  • Lori

    We are a family of 4 on food stamps. I had the desire to implement all that I was learning about health and food quality. However, the very fact that I was on food stamps made me feel very poor. I had to break out of the poverty thinking before I could consider the possibility that eating was possible for us. But once I did, I found all kinds of possibilities! I began buying better foods. A big realization came when I itemized a month’s worth of receipts, and found that 50% of what I spent was on treats/processed/convenience/not real foods! I got ruthless and refused to spend one dollar on anything not real. Then I proved it to my self: we did not go hungry; we ate well and were satisfied. It was possible after all. Dollars are dollars, and just because they are food stamps doesn’t mean I have eat junk!

    December 21st, 2012 3:51 pm Reply
  • Maryam H Al-Mousawy via Facebook

    @Erin Brakke Widner: How do you do it on a weekly budget of $100? Can you give any tips? I live in Montreal, Canada

    December 21st, 2012 3:49 pm Reply
  • Denise Borgeson via Facebook

    So to those who are bothered by the article, it would be better if this mom had some ‘pride’ & didn’t get the help that she’s eligible for and let her kid eat crap or more realistically miss meals & be malnourished? She mentions trading haircuts for chiro care, so I’m going to assume she’s a professional hairdresser. In case you’ve missed it the service industries have been especially hit hard in this economy. And it doesn’t at all reinforce Mr. Oz’s points. The average person collecting food stamps has a budget of about $2 a day to work with (and again let’s stress that’s the average so some families are working with even less) if this woman can stretch a budget like that far enough to afford organic & wholesome foods she’s a kitchen wizard and anyone who would rather bash her than listen to her tips is foolish.

    December 21st, 2012 3:43 pm Reply
    • Jen

      Agreed! The judgement is annoying.

      December 21st, 2012 9:45 pm Reply
  • Yogi

    Thanks Sarah for this article.
    Although I am not on Food Stamps, I do follow a grocery budget and keep processed food to an absolute minimum.
    About a year ago I started growing my own sprouts (bean sprouts and leafy green sprouts) because I found that this is the freshest and most economical way to get a wide variety of nutrients and (micro nutrients and phyto nutrients).
    You can buy organic seeds at Wholefoods and some grocery stores.
    Growing sprouts is quite easy once you start . For instructions check out . If you can afford it, buy an automatic sprouter like EasyGreen Sprouter ( , it cuts down the work by at least 80% (a few minutes a day) and provides a daily harvest of totally fresh sprouts! I love it!
    You can put them in salads, or make smoothies from fruits and greens/sprouts (
    You’re right, being creative is the key.

    December 21st, 2012 2:39 pm Reply
  • Naomi

    My husband and I are retired and get $75/month foodstamps, with $1300/mo total income. We don’t use a/c and heat (no, we’re not in FL, we’re in NC) and cut corners every way we can to be able to eat period. Doctors or any medical care is out of the question, at least for me, as I’m not old enough for medicare. I never have made a habit of using doctors anyway. Our farmers’ market people do not accept food stamps, I use my food stamps in the supermarket/TJ’s/WholeFoods, etc when possible, for the very few items I purchase there. We eat lots of beans and rice, lol! Granted, we don’t eat as much food as when younger and have no little ones to feed, so that’s a blessing. No I don’t eat totally organic, but we do what we can. I’m not complaining, just stating that there are more and more folks out there who live like this. It is with the help of our God that it is possible to make it. I enjoy reading about how different people stretch their incomes. If we live within our means throughout our lives, then it’s easier when the means is less. You just do what you’ve got to do. Very timely article, it’s appreciated!

    December 21st, 2012 3:33 pm Reply
  • Morgaine Donohue via Facebook

    If youre someone looking just to lower their grocery bill, or if you spend money after/before food stamps run out anyway, bountiful baskets is an awesome way to go. The organic basket costs a little more and comes with a little less, but still blows grocery store prices out of the water. Even the stuff in the regular basket is carefully chosen. And if you volunteer regularly, you get a free basket (I dont remember how often.)

    December 21st, 2012 3:30 pm Reply
  • Chrisdee Crall Rastatter via Facebook

    You go Angela Boblitt. Great insight.

    December 21st, 2012 3:30 pm Reply
  • Erin Brakke Widner via Facebook

    I have a family of 5 and a weekly budget of $100 (excluding raw milk) and we eat organic or local. He’s such a joke.

    December 21st, 2012 3:29 pm Reply
  • Lorena Graham Peek via Facebook

    God bless him sometimes he is such a TARD

    December 21st, 2012 3:24 pm Reply
  • Penny Long Norrie via Facebook

    Way to go Irene!

    December 21st, 2012 3:24 pm Reply
  • Angela Boblitt via Facebook

    Sara – for me (and probably most people having qualms with this article) it has NOTHING to do with judgement on those using food stamps, not having compassion, or needing a walk in their shoes. The problem I have with the point of posting this article is that it is in an effort to rebuttal Dr. Oz’s belief that organic/local living is for the elite – this article only backs Dr. Oz – if I had never bought organic and thought I couldn’t afford it because I’m “middle income,” this perspective would solidify my thoughts. The author of this write up couldn’t afford organic/local living if it wasn’t for food stamps – making Dr. Oz’s point that this living isn’t for your regular joe.

    December 21st, 2012 3:23 pm Reply
  • H

    People who have jobs with a family my size use tax payer money and spend double what we do to feed their families on food stamps. Food stamps should be reserved for the truly in need, it is grossly over used and I’ve seen it first hand. I’m sure this mom you wrote about truly needs it, but it does seem as though you are promoting/encouraging the use of food stamps for organic eating. We have 6 kids, we’ve always “qualified”, we’ve never used food stamps. We make different choices because we believe in free market and not big government. We make hard choices every day and we don’t make anyone else pay for feeding our family. It can be done. You should write an article as another perspective on how people can do this within a budget, not food stamps, just to show another option. The reason there are 46+ million people on them is not that we are in greater need than ever before, it’s that they make it so darn easy to get and to use.

    December 21st, 2012 3:18 pm Reply
    • Helen T

      Many middle class people aren’t middle class anymore. Factories have been closed and jobs outsourced. They’re trying despite the hard economic times. I know at least 3 people who lost jobs and traded homes downward. Read the foraging blogs…..many DO need foodstamps.

      December 21st, 2012 4:49 pm Reply
    • Staceyjw

      If you’re working, or have income, you get less in SNAP. NO ONE is getting rich off food stamps. Our food budget for a family of 4 is $270 a month, which is what we get in SNAP, plus some WIC coupons. My DH works, but makes little, and I am still unemployed.
      BTW, people DO need them now. Or have you not noticed the economic decline, high unemployment, and the lack of living wage work? formerly middle class people are now among the working poor, even among the homeless. Please don’t judge.

      Only In America do we have people complain about a person/family getting the tiny amount in FOOD that you get from SNAP, and how they dare to spend it. Look, everyone gets the same amount based on income/expenses, if one wants to eat organic, another wants junk, thats their business. We just love to begrudge the average person anything that might help them. (but tax breaks for profitable companies and billionaires, that’s cool, /snark)

      I think snap is great and should be expanded, and think WIC is a lifesaver too. I would love to see some cooking classes to go with these programs, as most people don’t know how to cook the basics or bulk stuff.

      December 28th, 2012 7:27 pm Reply
    • judy

      You’ve said exactly what I think. Food stamps have gone mainstream and are now considered an entitlement. I too would like to see an article about people who are eating organic food on a low income who are not receiving food stamps. It would be most helpful if the article detailed each meal, including each ingredient and its cost. I’m searching the web for just such information. Money not squandered on processed food is money that can be saved and/or invested rather than spent on doctor bills to cure us of disease caused by eating non-real and fast food.

      April 23rd, 2015 2:51 am Reply
    • Judy

      A simpler way of tracking the weekly or monthly food budget would be to print out the recipe for each meal made during the period and the total spent (keep the receipts). Menu planning, making a grocery list from the recipes, and going to the store/farmers market with that list is a must in order to control costs.

      April 23rd, 2015 3:25 am Reply
  • Sara James via Facebook

    I think it’s hypocritical to criticize people on food stamps when you do not walk in their shoes, nor have a clue as to what their life is like. I highly doubt most on food stamps eating the way Sara’s friend does is bucking the system as it takes time and effort to eat WAP. While I would love for everyone to be able to afford to eat without govt assistance, maybe walk awhile in their shoes before passing such judgement. I’m not on food stamps, but fully appreciate this post and intend to lower my food bill using many of these ideas so I can save more for a rainy day and for other necessities. My hat goes off to everyone who has contributed insightful ways to eat local and organic- thank you for the tips and Merry Christmas. Oh yea, Dr Oz can bite me!

    December 21st, 2012 3:16 pm Reply
    • Jen

      Thanks, Sara! I cannot stand people who judge others without having a clue what their lives are like. Sure there a few people who “scam the system”, but the majority need the assistance due to circumstances beyond their control. The people judging should simply be thankful that they obviously have never experienced a financial crisis in their lives that required assistance to feed their CHILDREN!

      December 21st, 2012 9:35 pm Reply
  • Jennifer Adelia via Facebook

    he’s an idiot.

    December 21st, 2012 3:15 pm Reply
  • Heidi Mills via Facebook

    I find this disturbing.

    December 21st, 2012 3:06 pm Reply
  • Angela Boblitt via Facebook

    Agree with others – very poor article. Only reinforces Dr. Oz’s point.

    December 21st, 2012 3:03 pm Reply
  • k

    hooray for irene!
    we are a homeschool family of 5 on 1 income, so are well acquainted w/budgeting. i watch sales and discounts carefully for better prices. i stalk the clearance areas for anything natural/ organic that is marked down-very helpful for homeopathics and body products. raw milk is illegal where we are, but we have worked that out by giving a friend “gas money”. 😉
    eating well can be done if you try really hard.
    i have also found that good food fills you up more, so there is not a need to buy a ton of SNACKS!!

    December 21st, 2012 3:01 pm Reply
  • Lisa Olschewske via Facebook

    Lets not forget How many military families are on food stamps . Before you all bash it. The military families suffer enough with out people looking down . These vets come home from deployments injured or have PTSD and TBI and either can’t work or lose jobs and the military gets paid horrible . Yes there are people that free load off food stamps but there are many that paid the price serving this country .

    December 21st, 2012 3:01 pm Reply
    • Missy

      We are a military family. I was in when I was single and now I am married to a military man. We make great money. I made great money when I was single and making the lowest pay grade. I traveled and ate out, and partied (I was young!) I also drove a cute little convertible. I never knew I was poor. I didnt live in debt.

      So here is my question, do all branches of the military make the same amount of money? Example: does the lowest ranking Army guy or gal make the same as the lowest ranking Navy guy or gal, or Marine or Air Force of Coast Guard?

      Just curious, thanks!

      December 22nd, 2012 12:22 pm Reply
      • Maureen

        Here’s the paygrade chart for 2013. For those of you that don’t know E-1 is the lowest pay grade and I believe it applies to all branches of the military.

        So for an E-1 with under 20 years in (virtually all) the monthy pre-tax amount is $1,516.43

        June 2nd, 2013 9:53 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    I have 6 children. My husband is military and suffers severe PTSD and a TBI so I’m a solo mom .i have been feeding my family organic . No dairy , only organic chicken or gr turkey .we make everything from scratch .and are sadly on food stamps. Costco so takes food stamps and has some organic also . I also shop atwholefoodsand our local health store . Even wal mart that I hate has gluten free items . There is No excuse not to eat healthy .

    December 21st, 2012 2:57 pm Reply
  • Megan Haney via Facebook

    I was one of six children who never had new shoes or new clothes. We did eat oatmeal for breakfast for many years and scraped by. No, we never used food stamps. Yes, we were poor. This was also a poor example. Hey! Why don’t we all use the federal government to pay for our organic food? Maybe we could just quit our jobs and make itI our life’s work to worship our organic food and let someone else pay for it?
    Yes, you can eat well for less but the effort to do so costs in TIME – nothing is free. Including food stamps.

    December 21st, 2012 2:49 pm Reply
    • k

      i don’t think the point was to say that being on food stamps was a great way to eat well for “free”, but that if one is struggling and is on food stamps, at least they are trying to do the best thing for their health and their family, and not just succumb to the stereotype of entitlements and wonder bread….

      December 21st, 2012 3:10 pm Reply
  • Belinda Costa via Facebook


    December 21st, 2012 2:49 pm Reply
  • Belinda Costa via Facebook

    Dr. Oz is a sell out who perpetuates corporate agenda for his on financial gain. I seriously hope people can see him for the fraud that he is!

    December 21st, 2012 2:48 pm Reply
  • Chloe

    I live in Southern California. I found a farmer at a local Farmer’s Market who sells Certified Pesticide Free produce and fruit and free range organic soy free eggs- and he is in the process of obtaining USDA Organic certification. He recently began weekly home delivery service and has a website where you can order what you want, you don’t need to take a box of “chosen by someone else” items that you can’t figure out what to do with, or find someone to trade with. You can pay online with paypal or pay cash when he arrives. He also continues to do a few markets along with his home delivery service. It is so great to have this food delivered to my door, without having to spend so much time and money traveling to distant stores to search out quality foods (all nearby markets are conventional and carry only factory eggs and little to no organic foods- sigh). This has allowed me to spend more on quality food for my family and less on gasoline and contributing to traffic. He currently delivers to Los Angeles and Orange counties. The website is Angelosfarms dot com. I love love love it. I used to spend so much time traveling and so much $ on gasoline and now I spend it on the actual food!

    December 21st, 2012 2:44 pm Reply
  • Becky Koch via Facebook

    Dr Oz is a word I won’t use this close to the holidays.

    December 21st, 2012 2:44 pm Reply
    • Mikki

      Amen! I amazed at how many of my friends, age group 55+, quote this guy like he knows everything and everything he says is true. I was recouping and healing in my recliner a few years back and got stuck watching him….so don’t see why my friends tune in like he’s the best doctor in the universe! Sssh….I don’t get it!

      December 22nd, 2012 2:37 pm Reply
      • Maureen

        To some people, anyone on TV is a god and they believe whatever they say.

        I don’t like being brainwashed so i don’t watch TV

        June 2nd, 2013 9:47 pm Reply
  • Denise Borgeson via Facebook

    fwiw if any other followers here happen to be from Richmond VA we have a farm store that will take EBT for CSAs. It’s called Farm to Family :)

    December 21st, 2012 2:42 pm Reply
  • Amanda Beaty Chambers via Facebook

    Megan, the point is that anyone can afford to eat healthy food. No one is glorifying using food stamps. It’s obvious you’ve never had to, though, so I’m happy for you.

    December 21st, 2012 2:41 pm Reply
  • Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook

    Charis Kehler Very good point. I have always thought that Dr. Oz is an extremely conflicted man. It shows on his face.

    December 21st, 2012 2:41 pm Reply
  • Melissa Chansaykylania Hing via Facebook

    His wife narrated Genetic Roulette. Thats what confuses me .

    December 21st, 2012 2:38 pm Reply
    • ang

      I gotta go check that out!
      Deinitely some tag wagging the dog going on here….

      December 21st, 2012 3:28 pm Reply
  • Charis Kehler via Facebook

    It was the same with Vitamin D. He was all for getting it via moderate UV exposure one week and the the next week he recanted. He means well and then is reminded about who pays his cheque.

    December 21st, 2012 2:38 pm Reply
  • Meaghan Massella Walker via Facebook

    instead of subsidizing junk (soy, corn), the gov’t should be subsidizing healthy foods to make it affordable for everyone.

    December 21st, 2012 2:37 pm Reply
    • Karen


      December 22nd, 2012 1:31 am Reply
      • rp

        Completely agree! People should not be allowed to junk. I’m surprised the First Lady isn’t touting that.

        December 22nd, 2012 10:08 am Reply
        • Susan

          The first lady isn’t particularly interested in anything that is good for us. Get us all on the government plantation. I’d prefer she and the rest of them stay out of my business.

          That said, you CANNOT regulate what people buy. We have a wonderful thing called Freedom of will and, for the moment, we can eat whatever we want, be it grassfed beef or crap.

          Let’s look at what government subsidation gave us…the Feds subsidize the dairy industry and it’s VERY hard and expensive to find raw milk and illegal in a lot of states. Government sticking their noses into every aspect of what we do is what had led to such high prices for organics, etc, and insisting that science is the way to go.

          So please don’t suggest that the government regulate what we are eating and not ‘allow’ us to eat junk. Pardon my language, but that is just insanely stupid.

          December 22nd, 2012 1:21 pm Reply
        • Susan

          Meaghan Massella Walker, Karen and rj, THIS is why we don’t need the government in our food more.

          ” It works like this: In order to keep dairy farmers in businesses, the government agrees to buy milk and other products if the price gets too low. The current agriculture bill has a formula that means the government steps in if the price of milk were to drop by roughly half from its current national average of about $3.65 a gallon.

          Problem is, the current bill expired last summer, and Congress had been unable to agree on a new one. Several protections for farmers have already expired, and several more are set to do so over the next few months. One of them is the dairy subsidy, which expires January 1.

          But instead of leaving farmers entirely out in the cold, the law states that if a new bill isn’t passed or the current one extended, the formula for calculating the price the government pays for dairy products reverts back to a 1949 statute. Under that formula, the government would be forced to buy milk at twice today’s price — driving up the cost for everyone.

          “If you like anything made with milk, you’re going to be impacted by the fact that there’s no farm bill,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told CNN’s Candy Crowley in an interview on State of the Union airing Sunday, Dec. 30.

          “Consumers are going to be a bit shocked when instead of seeing $3.60 a gallon for milk, they see $7 a gallon for milk. And that’s going to ripple throughout all of the commodities if this thing goes on for an extended period of time,” Vilsack said.

          December 22nd, 2012 9:23 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    My family of four are on food stamps also while the hubs is in school. We buy raw grassfed milk and visit the farmers market every week to buy local produce. I have learned how to make sourdough and ferment the produce I get from the farmers market and from our own garden.

    December 21st, 2012 2:32 pm Reply
  • Flavia Sordelet via Facebook

    Dr. OZ and his “advertisers” are basing this on that recent study that concluded that their is no real difference between conventional and organic produce nutritionally. But as most of us know the study didn’t analyze/investigate other environmental factors such as pesticide use and their effects on the human body or the environment. This is the real point that you should be making with this post. We eat organic because we know it is the better choice for our bodies in the long-term and the environment! Not because it is a status symbol like the Prius is in San Francisco (there’s an interesting Freakonomics episode on that subject).

    December 21st, 2012 2:31 pm Reply
  • Megan Haney via Facebook

    And the day has come where being on food stamps is lauded.

    December 21st, 2012 2:30 pm Reply
    • watchmom3

      Hey Megan, I do know what you mean by that…I understand that many are struggling right now..I would add one thing..DO NOT TRUST THE they always have an agenda. If you need food stamps, use them and also churches can help, but get off asap, so you don’t have to be tied to government’s long apron strings. (Hear me clearly, NOTHING against anyone who is in need and uses them.. I am happy for my taxes to actually do something good! ) God bless and we might all look around and see who is within our reach to help!

      December 21st, 2012 3:56 pm Reply
  • Vickie

    We are planning to move to the country to start raising our own food because there is no way I can buy specially meats and organic fruits and veggie on our food budget. We do eat better than we used to because of the knowledge that I’ve gained from reading the Heathly Home Econimist.

    My friends on food stamps have double the food budget that my family has. My friends are like Irene they work hard to feed their families health foods. However it really chaps my hide to see someone pay for a chart full of junk food with a food stamp card.

    December 21st, 2012 2:30 pm Reply
  • Charlene

    Kudos to Irene. May she keep this up and give her children a future they deserve: good health and good lives.

    December 21st, 2012 2:29 pm Reply
  • Soli Zat Johnson via Facebook


    December 21st, 2012 2:29 pm Reply
  • Rachel Perry Hanses via Facebook

    I bet you $1000 his family eats organics.

    December 21st, 2012 2:28 pm Reply
  • Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook

    Dave Nicks I totally agree. I think he was told to get in line with the party line or he was going to lose sponsorships for his show or worse, nonrenewal of his contract.

    December 21st, 2012 2:25 pm Reply
  • Amy Gutierrez via Facebook

    Couldn’t agree more. He’s way off base here.

    December 21st, 2012 2:23 pm Reply
  • Dave Nicks via Facebook

    Dr Oz, just a couple of months ago, rallied passionately FOR organic foods. Then, mysteriously, all show clips and links in favor of organics were blotted out. Methinks the tail is wagging the dog here, and his sponsors are dictating his content. America’s doctor, my arse.

    December 21st, 2012 2:20 pm Reply
    • Mikki

      AGREE! Throw Dr. Andrew Weil in there also. They need to stay pretty mainstream or they’ll get no sponsors, no shows and no guest appearances either.

      December 22nd, 2012 2:31 pm Reply
  • Beyond Baked via Facebook

    He’ll say whatever they pay him to.

    December 21st, 2012 2:20 pm Reply
  • Saeriu

    We’re on a very tight budget and the majority of our food is organic and local–from our yard! We have several (organic) gardens spread around our yard, planted with various veggies and fruits. We get (sweet) corn from a nearby farmer. My husband hunts venison and turkey. We raise rabbits. And this year we bought a goat for the first time. Our yard is pretty small but we keep squeezing more things on to it. When it’s all in bloom it looks awesome. It’s a wonderful feeling too when I see my 1 year old run out every morning to check ‘his’ strawberries.

    December 21st, 2012 2:04 pm Reply
  • tina

    our family of 4 is also on food stamps. there are lots of farmer’s markets around who take SNAP, but during winter months they are all closed. so we use local grocery stores and try and buy organic whenever possible. the best thing is making whatever you can at home, like nut butters and milks, grinding grains and baking bread, broths and so’s way cheaper- if you have the time to do it. This year i started shopping for gifts and toys at the flee market, where i found some really nice hand made items much much cheaper than the “made in china” from the regular stores.

    December 21st, 2012 1:55 pm Reply
    • Beth

      More and more farmers’ markets are having winter hours such as once a month or every other week through the winter, even in cold places like Minnesota. You might be surprised to find one in your area — check their websites or call.

      December 21st, 2012 3:01 pm Reply
  • Amy

    This is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. This is a message that desperately needs to be shared. I have a friend who is a single mom of two boys and while she is not on food stamps she has a very limited food budget. When her husband left, she was taking anti-depressants, the oldest boy had sensory integration problems and was also basically ADHD, and the youngest boy had asthma. Using her limited budget wisely, she turned her family around to normal, healthy, full-functioning, and vibrant without any medications. All she did was purchase whole foods, organic when possible, always pastured, etc., from farmers markets and local farms. She was able to invest in a deep-freeze so all summer long she buys fresh, local vegies and fruits in bulk and freezes them for use the rest of the year. They take lunch to school, eat at home every night, etc. She is totally off her anti-depressants, and neither boy has any health problems whatsoever. In fact, they are extremely healthy. They went from a very unstable, scary situation and now enjoy vibrant health. Did I mention she works full time? She uses her crock pot and bread machine regularly. It definitely can be done!!

    December 21st, 2012 1:55 pm Reply
    • Mihaela Froehlich

      What an inspiration, your friend is! Thank you for sharing this story of a strong smart mother.

      December 21st, 2012 4:27 pm Reply
  • Beth

    That’s a very good point about the high expense for farmers to get organic certification. You can ask for Certified Naturally Grown, a lesser known system that is just as good or better than organic and more affordable for the farmer (and consumer). Getting to know your farmers is key.

    You can also ask farmers if they use organic methods without being certified. But be careful to ask about non-petroleum, non-chemical fertilizers because some people say “chemical free” meaning no pesticide or herbicide applications but they still use chemical fertilizers that are taken up by the food.

    December 21st, 2012 1:49 pm Reply
  • Laura

    Okay, if you are on food stamps you should pretty much have NO excuse for not eating real food! We were on food stamps when my husband was in college and that was the most “money” we have ever had in our food budget. EVER. He makes a good living now. I have several friends who are/were on food stamps while their husbands went/are going to college as well and they have over twice as much “money” for food than I do – for the same size family. One friend even said that she can now get her daughter all of her allergen-free foods that she could never afford before. So I really see no excuse.

    December 21st, 2012 1:30 pm Reply
    • Jennifer J

      The amount of food stamps a family gets is dependent on family size and income. I have gotten over $500 a month on food stamps, when I had absolutely NO income, to as low as $60 when I was working for minimum wage, 30 hours a week. Try to feed your family on $60 for the month. Every family gets a different amount, so don’t judge food stamp payments by your own experience or that of just a few people.

      December 22nd, 2012 3:37 am Reply
      • Jody

        I totally agree with last reply. My family (I have two teen sons) receives food stamps. The amount we have receives changes. Right now we are getting $39.00 worth. I have in the past received $440.00. Believe me when I say, it does not begin to cover food expenses. I believe it is intended to “supplement”. I can also tell you that we have spent most years living at the poverty level. I am one of those 47% that Romney referred to. Do I feel bad about it? NO! It happens to be my youngest son is severely autistic. I have not been able to go back to work since I had children. To give you an idea as to why, almost everyday I have to go to school to feed him this year because he refuses to eat there. He developed an association between food and getting sick because he threw up once ( when he was four) while eating. He did not eat for 6/12 years and had to be tube fed. He also was on the Keto-diet for a seizure disorder. If he gets sick it usually takes a good week, sometimes longer to get him well. I am divorced and have no help. Unfortunately, not all fathers feel as if they are responsible for taking care of the children they fathered! With that said, my biggest expense outside of rent, is food. I buy organic, and have for years now. Our farmers market also excepts food stamps, and in fact they double the amount. So if I put $10.00 on my card, I get $20.00 in coins to spend. I recognize that eating good foods is the best way to keep us healthy, and I could not make any better investment with the money I do have.

        December 22nd, 2012 2:41 pm Reply
  • Joy

    It is also a very good idea to talk to the farmers at your farmers markets. I live in a very small town but have access to 3 or 4 farmers markets during the bulk of the year. Some of the farmers take food stamps and some do not. Some even have payment plans for their CSA so you do not have to have a lot of cash upfront to get in on their deals.

    Another very important point is that the process to get certified for organic is not practical to some farmers so ask about their practices; go visit their farms. One of the farms I buy from every week is not certified organic but they practice organic methods. They do not use pesticides and do not use chemical fertilizers. They raise their animals and their produce exactly how I would raise my own, including composting as well as paddock rotation/grass grazing for the livestock. I visit the farm once a week to buy my stuff and am very happy to buy from them even though they are not “certified organic”. Remember the government puts tight control on those words, folks. Just because a farm is not able to be “allowed” by the government to use the word organic does not mean they are practicing non- organic methhods. Some even have programs where if you volunteer to work on the farm a vew hours a week, you get paid with a bag of produce. Winwin!

    December 21st, 2012 1:09 pm Reply
  • Eliza

    Sorry, don’t mean to do 3 posts so quickly, but I keep thinking of things:

    At my farmer’s market, some of the farmers sell seconds OR bulk at a discount. The seconds are mostly just oddly shaped — nothing wrong with them. The bulk items can be split among a few families.

    I think it really helps to get to know the farmers, also see if they will negotiate with you (if you are a regular customer and really appreciate them, very often they are willing to work out some deals). It never hurts to ask!

    December 21st, 2012 12:47 pm Reply
  • Lea

    Yes, this is true… It is possible to eat healthy on a budget. My son and I don’t qualify for food stamps, lol but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try to apply. We have a very strict budget of $50 to $75 a week. Most times, $50. Meal planning is my best friend. I buy my gallon of raw milk and qrt of cream and eggs each week. (That’s half my weekly budget). The qrt of cream is half used for food and the other half is used for butter. The rest is on grassfed beef or pastured chicken (Wholefoods, Abbys, Nutrition Smart) and veggies (Wholefoods, Bearss Groves or Sweetwater Sunday market). We don’t do a lot of carbs but I do make hot breakfast cereal for my son with lots of cream in the mornings before school. We do okay. The area I skimp on is organic veggies. I buy from local farmer’s markets that are not organic if I’m in a pinch. Either way, food stamps or not… meal planning and setting a budget can help anyone save time and money with food prep. Good luck!

    December 21st, 2012 12:42 pm Reply
  • Eliza

    I have to add this disclaimer, though. I am fortunate to have a full kitchen and refrigeration and storage. These “luxuries” are not available to every person who is struggling financially. I do have less fortunate friends who rent cheap, basement rooms from people, and they do not have access to the kitchen, so they struggle to eat well. They have a toaster oven, microwave, and that is it. Some of them use a cooler or have a refrigerator. I’m just saying, unless you have reliable cooking/food storage capability, it is much more work.

    This can become a downward spiral as we all know. Health is very important. If you do not eat well, your health will go downhill. You have less energy. Some of these friends rely on “energy drinks” to get them through feeling sleepy because of poor nutrition. Or they eat crackers and cereal. Or buy the cheapest loaf of spongy white bread or cheap, conventional milk because that seems to be all they can afford. Or don’t buy vegetables at all because they have no way to store or prepare them. Yes, I cook for these friends whenever I can and try to make extra portions (soups, casseroles) when I cook for my family, and deliver it to them.

    December 21st, 2012 12:10 pm Reply
    • April Brown

      Oh my goodness, they should buy crock pots! And a mini fridge doesn’t cost too much, especially used. We have an ancient one we let guests use and it works great and it is the tiniest ting. Crock pots save my life and I have a full kitchen.

      December 27th, 2012 3:31 am Reply
  • Brittany

    We’re a family of 5 on a very tight Military budget. We eat organic whenever possible and are in a raw milk/egg co-op. We have one car, we do not eat out, I make a lot of clothing/toys, we do not have extravagant things or go on trips. We do however, eat well. We live in an area with an insanely high cost of living, but we make it work.

    December 21st, 2012 12:09 pm Reply
  • Mikki

    Excellent post Sarah! I am passing this on to our WAPF chapter leader who also works at our local independent natural foods store; not sure if they take food stamps, nor or local farmer’s market, but a new Whole Foods store is opening in our area this spring. How about Trader Joe’s? Do they take food stamps?

    December 21st, 2012 12:07 pm Reply
    • Erin

      YES!!! Trader Joe’s takes food stamps! We, too, are on food stamps due to my husband’s 3 yr long unemployment. He shops at Trader Joe’s a lot! We don’t eat great, but are thrilled with the healthier options at TJ’s. I really need to get better about checking local farmer’s markets and the like to see if they accept them as well. We have got to make our diet more of a priority in this house!

      December 21st, 2012 1:20 pm Reply
  • Dawn @

    How wonderful! I hear so many people say they can’t afford to eat healthfully but Irene proves it can be done. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story and especially Irene’s plan so that I can share it with others who need a little help figuring out how to eat well on a budget.

    December 21st, 2012 12:07 pm Reply
  • watchmom3

    WHAT an INSPIRATION! Thanks for sharing this! I am weary of the argument that it is too expensive to eat well. Just a little aside; after watching all the craziness in the mainstream media these last 2 weeks, it is SO nice to come to a website where most of the folks have good common sense and “test everything” to see if it is true or not. Refreshing! Happy Holidays Ya’ll!

    December 21st, 2012 12:05 pm Reply
  • Eliza

    I am a single mom of 3 kids. Not on food stamps, but on a tight budget. We do a CSA. What was tough on this initially was that I needed to pay upfront for the season, so I had to save for a year before I could amass the $700 required to sign up. But the beauty of it is, once paid for, it’s paid. Then, I just set aside the money I would have spent on food to have enough to sign up the next year.

    My CSA is all organic and very generous. I always have enough or more than I need for an entire week, and the cost works out to about $25 a week. To feed me and 3 hungry teenagers, that is very helpful. It runs from May to the end of December, so in the other months I am very careful to buy only what I need, but I shop at an organic grocery store and get the grass fed meat and bones at Whole Foods, too.

    If you don’t buy processed, prepackaged foods or junk, and work hard to buy what is in season and local (plan meals around what is available, rather than planning meals and then going shopping for specific items which may not be lower cost or local or in season), it is definitely possible to be poor and eat very healthy and organic.

    December 21st, 2012 12:02 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, getting rid of all the boxes in the pantry is key. Packaged and prepared foods seem cheaper at first but they are actually very expensive in the long run as this food is just calories and calories only fill you up for a short period of time before you are hungry again … eating nutrient dense food stays with you and you aren’t hungry and snacking all the time like folks who eat processed foods. Not to mention eating these foods make you sick more often and that requires time off work, doctor’s visits, prescriptions etc etc.

      December 21st, 2012 9:45 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    Bravo, Irene! You are an inspiration.

    But according to the Time Magazine article by the famous Mehmet Oz, buying organic and local food makes her “elitist”, and a member of the “one percent”. Absolute nonsense.

    December 21st, 2012 12:01 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Exactly! Take THAT Dr. Oz. People who eat organic are elitist? What an insulting and out of touch thing for that man to say.

      December 21st, 2012 2:13 pm Reply
      • High Brix Nutrient Dense Foods

        Clearly, he did not find evidence to refute his claim. In addition to the approach this lady used with the food stamps, you can search for bargains in many creative ways. You can make group orders, ask for wholesale or bulk prices in the farmer’s market or preorder and in many cases get a nice price break and find the best prices for grass fed meats online through resources like or Hint: The organic foods market has wild variations in prices. This does not take a rocket scientist to figure out. I find things as much as 4 -5 times less the cost of retail store or online pricing.

        December 23rd, 2012 9:38 pm Reply
  • Andrea

    God bless the woman!Someone suggested to me that families who buy organic on a single income (like our family) just max out their credit cards. I was very offended to say the least – especially since we don’t even own a credit card. I’ll have to share this article for all the naysayers!

    December 21st, 2012 10:22 am Reply

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