The Food Stamp Diet

Our so-called “Food Stamp Diet” was a seven-day experiment where we tried to live on a food allotment of just $3.36 per person, per day. It was enlightening, and it was miserable. Which was kind of the point, we suppose. You can read all about it in our daily journals as well as some key takeaways gleaned after a bit of reflection. And whatever you do, please judge people on food stamps less by what you see in their carts after you realize how little they get and how far it has to go.

Day 1
Day 1

Today begins our week-long examination of food insecurity in America. To better understand what it’s like for the 50 million Americans who have trouble putting dinner on the table.



food stamp dietDay 2

It seems disingenuous, as a man eating three meals a day, to complain about hunger. But damn.



Stuffed peppers small

Day 3

Several times, I’ve stood behind someone in line at the grocery as they bought piles of Kool-Aid packets with food stamps and wondered why they would waste their allotment on such empty calories. Right now I would shiv someone for a glass of that lime-lemon magic.


food stamp diet snap challenge coqui nutrition

Day 4

The deeper we get into this experiment, the more we realize it’s not about the SNAP allotment. That was merely a jumping off point. The greater issue is that we’ve created a system where low-income families are unable to provide for themselves.


food stamp diet snap challenge eggDay 5

So let’s talk about some of the other stuff. Let’s talk about going out with your friends to a Tuesday night movie and not being able to buy the small popcorn or the small soda, like they do, because those things are too spendy (even when they’re on special for $1.50 each).


HeadacheDay 6

An almost continuous five-day headache reached a skull-thumping crescendo by lunchtime. That, coupled with the total inability to regulate my blood sugar, made for the delightful feeling of my internal organs spinning in a food processor.



calcumalator-1000Day 7

In the end, we coasted to the finish line with ease. So why do we still feel so much unease?



food stamp diet snap challenge CSABreaking Fast

The food-stamp diet is over, for us, and we can breathe a deep, soul-cleansing breath with heady notes of arugula, mizuna, kale, asian turnips, Juliet tomatoes, Easter egg radishes, poblanos, okra and garlic. We are lucky.



Sweet potato chocolate barsSide Effects

The Food Stamp Diet had an unexpected side effect — it temporarily destroyed my love of cooking. Food was a burden that week. A trip to the grocery store? Just a reminder of what we couldn’t have. And preparing a meal for Brad was laced with feelings of inadequacy.


scale_puuikibeachCalorie Count

Being a scientist, I like to talk numbers since it’s an easy way to objectively look at the results of an experiment. So when a friend suggested evaluating the food stamp diet based on calories, that seemed like a pretty good idea.