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I have for some obscure bureaucratic reason recently become eligible for free lunch in my building – at one time limited to the Assisted Living folks, it’s been expanded to any of us who live here. Because of my unexpected hospital stay, and my equally unexpected tripling of prescription costs in the last couple of months (from 10% of my income to 35% of my income, to be precise) I am taking advantage of it. I stopped having any money in the bank at all in the middle of the month. It’s a donated meal a day or none at all.

This leads me to ponder the fact that there’s not only a politics of food in this country, but a politics of eating.

When I had a middle class income (professor, grant writer, etc) and was married to someone who directed the elections for our state, I of course donated my time to various charities and causes, one of which was the free community meal at the local senior center, available to anyone in the neighborhood. (Possibly it was funded precisely the same way my current lunch was funded.) I wiped tables, served meals, helped clean up afterwards, chatted with people who were eating alone.

What I did NOT do was eat the food. I couldn’t stand it. Vegetables were cooked to a uniform olive green. Meat was neither the shape nor size of any known animal part. Gravies were rich and salty, but obviously came from cans and boxes, rather than meat juices. Fruits were canned and scarce.

At first, when there was far too much left over, I would yield to the arguments of the food provider in charge and take some home to feed my family. That didn’t work out well. None of us would eat it. If our growing boy had been willing to, we would have saved a lot of money, but he just made faces, even when I left it around for snacks. He was used to non-processed food for meals, and processed food for treats. This was neither. Since I couldn’t find anyone to give it to, I quit taking it so it wouldn’t “go to waste.” Perhaps it was recycled to shelters. I hoped so.

Now similar food is my one guaranteed meal a day. It tastes much better without the choice.  Today, for example, I had some slices of pressed turkey on a piece of fluffy white bread with gravy on the top: a “hot turkey sandwich.” On the side were thoroughly cooked peas with bits of onion in them, and a scoop of reconstituted mashed potatoes with more gravy; salad was several pieces of canned fruit, and there was jello with a white pouffe in the middle unlikely to be whipped cream. It resembled nothing I’ve ever fed my family. I was hungry. It was good.

I cannot fault the nutritionist who plans this. While heavy on the carbs and light on the vitamins, the food technically fits the old fashioned known facts of what people need; it’s a bit pre-pyramid, let alone plate, but vegetables, protein, fruit, and starch all make an appearance. There’s always a dessert, and it’s bland enough to fit many American palates, but occasionally (once a month) they get adventurous and offer something like “chop suey.” It’s cheap, filling, and varied. A lot of the people eating it find it delicious, because it fits the kind of food they’ve eaten all their lives.

The problem is that I was hospitalized for congestive heart failure, which requires a low salt diet. I had understood that the lunch corresponded to “low salt,” for the very logical reason that it was served to assisted living people, who have specific criteria for their nutritional needs. However, I checked yesterday, and found out that the “low salt” happens about twice a month with an entrée substitute, such as bratwurst replaced by (flaked and formed) turkey. So it’s fairly high sodium.

My doc told me yesterday that chf is one of the most expensive diseases going, though it’s easily prevented, primarily by diet and a bit by meds.

But special diets are not a consideration one can have in serving cheap food to masses. Even low salt diets require low salt origins, and when buys chicken “cutlets” by the enormous bag full, you’re limited to whatever that processor thought should go into a chicken cutlet. As most of the readers here know, that usually means chemicals and salt, which are cheaper than actual food in making it appetizing. Cheap fat is also common, so there’s unlikely to be a speck of olive oil and highly likely to be trans fats and GMO oil. So no low salt, no low fat, and most significant (to me) almost no raw foods at all. “Salads” are iceberg lettuce. Fruits are mostly canned, although there is an apple, orange or banana about once a week. Milk is always provided, and it’s 1% milk fat, period. Butter is provided (this is Minnesota, after all) in a little container, and it’s always salted. Salad dressings are just what you would get in any fast food place: a metal envelope containing chemicals, spices, corn syrup, and buttermilk.

So part of the health of the people in my building, not good comparable to the national “average” (ie middle class and upper class health) can be easily explained by the stingy nature of charity. We pay to keep people alive, and not eating cat food, and that’s important; Republicans wouldn’t even do that. But we don’t want to pay enough for them to actually thrive or live like the rest of us – oops, I mean the rest of you. I don’t know many Democrats who actually want to know the details of the food the government gives, as listed above. I do know a lot of Democrats who would be annoyed at my writing this – why am I complaining about my free lunch?

I have options, because my community is not in this building. They have land, and will let me grow things on it if I’m physically able. They share their bounties of kosher-slaughtered, grass-fed beef, fresh raw milk, and cage free chickens with me occasionally. I own a car and know nutritional options from many countries; in spring and summer here there are farmers’ markets where greens and then other vegetables appear at excellent prices. I can borrow a corner of a friend’s freezer and keep the extras there for the winter. So I am NOT complaining about the lunch; it feeds me now, and though my doctor has told me to stop eating it, she has also told me what to do if I must (spoon off all the gravy, rinse the vegetables and reheat, provide my own entrée with a can of beans, etc.)

But I am complaining about the indifference of Democrats in power to the limits of their own empathy. To care enough to make sure people don’t starve is a theoretical caring. My religion and my family upbringing always had the assumption that anything we had would be shared: let the one who is hungry, come eat. My mother and father would have been appalled at the thought that a guest at our table would have to settle for the least desirable and for the leftovers. Yet too much of what one eats is actually a gift to wealthy corporations: sell us barely edible food, and we will feed it to barely surviving people, expanding profit and relieving our consciences.

Just don’t expect us to eat that stuff.

Fri Jan 31, 2014 at  9:26 AM PT: So many of the comments make it clear that this community -- whom I consider my online neighbors -- contains many people themselves struggling to get food on the table. I hope those interested in the ideas I write about read their comments and think what it means that our community -- which on the surface is mostly composed of the college-educated, mature, American adults the media assumes are NOT "the poor" in fact have so many stories which reflect the true face of hunger in America.

July 14, 2014 (Bastille Day)
A month after I wrote this, my doctor became concerned and told me to stop eating the free meal because it was wrecking my already-fragile health. So went back to blowing a lot of money on food every month, but at least it wasn't killing me.

Originally posted to kestrel sparhawk on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 08:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for the Homeless Person and Community Spotlight.

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    A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

    by kestrel sparhawk on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 08:13:11 PM PST

  •  Now throw in reactions to foods like (108+ / 0-)

    Soy, peanuts, cabbage... And the plate you get will be empty.

    We can do better, we choose not to.

  •  It gets very tricky to eat special diets when poor (63+ / 0-)

    and I know this all too well.

    I have discovered that I can tolerate up to a tablespoon of cooked spinach as a garnish/seasoning in a dish. Any more than that? Three days of turn-you-inside-out diarrhea. This is also my reaction to any of the cabbage family. Cooked, raw, it doesn't matter. The damn thing is, cabbage is a cheap thing to cook and add to things to extend the portions. But it's not an option to me. Too many nightshades in my diet and I start to ache more. All beans I've tried so far also make me go boom.

    So I eat meat at about every meal and a lot of starch, and I eat the vegetables that don't make me go boom, but it means I have to eat real food, not prepackaged.  Someone once told me that I should go to the food bank and get packages, but I can't eat more than a quarter of what they give out due to the fructose sensitivity. So I leave it for the people who can.

    It's hard.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 08:21:49 PM PST

  •  In-center dialysis is enough to keep people alive (67+ / 0-)

    but it is not frequent enough to allow them to thrive. All it does is allow them to survive. Three times a week is not enough for thriving. That's why I did home dialysis the whole time I was on it.

    There's a financial component to the 3x-a-week standard, just as there is to the food you are served. It's enough - barely. But the reasoning is that people won't do more, and that it costs too much to do more, and that it doesn't matter all that much that 20% of the people on dialysis will die every year. (We have, in the US, the lowest rate of dialyzor survival of any developed nation.)

    Disabled people of any kind are generally considered throwaways by our policies. Lip service is given to other outlooks, but the policies themselves speak volumes.

    •  agree. better diets & exercise would lower (15+ / 0-)

      Healthcare costs. Fresh fruit & vegetables are much cheaper than the cost of monthly meds and interventions. It seems like there should be some enterprising city/state that sets up a trial and does some cost comparisons. I am sure Big Pharma and Big Ag would fight this, as they have a vested interest in the status quo.

      I know I have been dealing with a serious health issue, & changing my food choices has had a major effect for the good on my prognosis, and how I feel in general. I am in remission several years and take only 1 prescription drug that is generic and costs $10/mo, vs thousands for chemo/ radiation.
      My quality of life is a hundred times better.

      When I think about institutional food I go crazy, thinking about all the things in a person's life that are effected by what they eat, from children learning in school to Medicare costs, to mental health and the costs to the justice system. Our whole economy is built on feeding people cheap food. So many industries are built on the consequences of low nutrition.

      I am optimistic that people are starting to talk about the consequences and correlation of food to outcomes, and are starting to demand some changes. It might take talking about good nutrition in terms of cost/benefit to society, instead of a moral issue, to get some people to jump on the wagon.

      Today's problems are yesterday's solutions. Don Beck

      by Sherri in TX on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:20:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  food and exercise (12+ / 0-)

        I was struck by your term "food choices," which is of course quite a standard phrase with the docs/nurses I've talked with about heart issues (and whatever). For some reason it never quite connected before that the very idea of a food "choice" is a mark of privilege. Just as our ancestors ate what they could get, so do our poorer citizens. The difference is that other people have choices now. Perhaps they're not always good ones, but at least they have them.

        Thanks for your thoughts.


        A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

        by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:15:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  exactly what I am saying. I know I am fortunate (3+ / 0-)

          That I can make the choice to eat what I want. I am saying that by increasing choice and access to more nutritional food we can save $ and improve lives as a society. By spending our tax dollars more wisely, like subsidizing broccoli like we do wheat, we can bring food costs down and make better food available, as those foods become more abundant and cheaper.

          Maybe have Medicaid & Medicare give higher reimbursements to nursing homes,hospitals that provide better food, which should lead to shorter and fewer hospital stays, would pay for itself.

          We do have a system that isn't working now. Eating a healthy diet on a limited budget without access to grocery store or the ability to shop is almost impossible. You are at the mercy of those helping you. I run into so many people who don't have clue about what they are eating and how it effects them. Just changing the national consciousness will take time.

          I am hoping for some "trickle down" effect as diet knowledge becomes more mainstream, and more healthcare professionals prescribe diet changes, and not just a pill.of course, there isn't the payback in that, that the healthcare industry is dependent on.

          Today's problems are yesterday's solutions. Don Beck

          by Sherri in TX on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:58:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Don't get me started on food in hospitals (5+ / 0-)

        or nursing homes, either.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:37:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hospital food (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cai, catilinus, barbwires

          Any time I have been in a hospital, I have depended on friends to bring me such things as yogurt! Hospital food is always chicken with no taste plus dead boiled vegetables and dead mashed potatoes, with jello for dessert or canned fruit. As I am also gluten sensitive the useless bread was also inedible. It is amazing that anyone gets better in a hospital!

          Meanwhile, hospitals are full of medical staff from countries where they eat wonderful food. A curry or chicken masala would be a treat. Not to mention vegetarian and gluten-free foods that are standard in those cuisines.

      •  Some state and local governments are starting to (0+ / 0-)

        learn that housing the homeless is cheaper within five years than neglecting them.  Maybe eventually, we can learn that better nutrition is cheaper than malnutrition.

  •  stay grateful and humble - I know it's hard (18+ / 0-)

    Kinda special when a poor meal goes down better with relief that there's food.

    Everything you say is so true and in terms of the larger issues, it's a crying shame and a gaping need. But how can people with very little worry understand what it's like to have every expense and the need to eat saturated with worry (would you like an extra helping of fear with that?)?

    Of course other things that are fragile include privacy and being in an environment where you are unlikely to be subjected to physical or emotional abuse.

    I just want to say TO YOU that however you make the most of your situation, try to have a blessed outlook towards your nutrition, your body, and your self. The world can be like a machine to cause bad things to happen to good people who don't deserve them. But you are a living being, and a caring person. Please try to honor that.

    Some suffering and some damage is inevitable from what you describe (a different kind of daily diet). Please keep your head together to try not to have it become worse. Try. Try. Try.

    This is a really great diary.

    •  Thank you (9+ / 0-)

      For your last comment especially! I do try. My big problem is that I've had a lifetime passion for justice which doesn't change now that I'm one of the people I used to organize for. (In fact, if I believed in karma more often than alternate Tuesdays, I'd assume I'm getting this experience for a reason.)

      I'm tough, and have loving friends, so I don't worry much for myself. But there are older people who have nothing to do but eat what they're given, sit downstairs and wait for the mail, and go gamble on weekends. They've worked far harder than the wealthy (or most middle class people) their whole lives, and deserve so much more than to fade into death.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:19:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What can we do for you? (27+ / 0-)

    We need this kind if reminder, often. We need good food available to all, not keep you from dying food!

    I'm allergic to onions, which means the vast majority of things you describe are completely uneatable for me. Between onions, onions powder, green onions and shallots, that 80%+ of pre-processed food I can't eat.

    A hospital stay, (or my week post-surgery in a nursing home) leave me very grateful for the food my husband sneaks in, since its almost the only good that won't make me sick.  

    I feel for you! I'm far away in Alaska, trying to find food I can eat on a college campus, but I will help in any way I can. I'm fighting the good fight here, to get more options!

  •  Thank you for this diary. (24+ / 0-)

    We do feel as if we've done our part when we donate to our regional food bank, and the food bank does actively solicit salt-free donations from individual donors.

    But I'm sure the bulk of their stock is surplus fast-food-type components such as you describe. And that's certainly what our cash donations must be spent on.

    I can't even think how to begin to approach a problem on this scale--because you're also right that the majority of people, whether raised on Spam or McDonald's,  probably find the guv'mint food familiar, tasty, and comforting. (My own elders gag on the low-salt, low-fat meals provided in our local hospitals now.)

  •  Your food should be prescribed (39+ / 0-)

    as medicine, and be covered by insurance. The doctor can't send you out the door in good conscience knowing you have to eat food that will possibly kill you. Somehow this is fundamentally insane.  

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 04:27:05 AM PST

    •  Food prescribed as medicine (16+ / 0-)

      used to be a fairly basic part of a doctor's job, but that was well before medical insurance was a thing.

      It's kind of horrible, when you think about it, that it isn't recognized as such anymore -- especially when the science of nutrition has advanced so much, and is still advancing.

      •  Food as medicine (10+ / 0-)

        There are docs who know better. I'm on antibiotics at the moment for a sinus infection, and the doc who prescribed them (my lovely primary, who saved my life) also told me to drink kombucha tea. she recommended sauerkraut too, before she remembered the salt thing. You have to shop around for a doc who keeps up and is willing to entertain the idea of moving beyond a purely medical model. (she's an md, so all for meds when indicated)


        A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

        by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:12:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  THIS (9+ / 0-)

        i also agree that doctors used to know more about the natural cures/dangers in food

        my grandmother was told to cut down on bananas and tomatoes and potatoes when she developed her heart problems

        now they just give people pills to counteract high potassium levels

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:17:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not so much that they used to know more (7+ / 0-)

          because I don't actually think they did; it's more that doctors today don't think of that body of knowledge as "medicinal," and thus don't think of it as their purview in terms of prescribing.

          Some doctors, being either consciously old-fashioned and folksy or consciously new-agey and alternative, will recommend specific foods to their patients -- but more often they will shunt the patient to a dietician or nutritionist, and that only if the patient has a digestion-related complaint or a "weight problem."

          •  My German friend (4+ / 0-)

            was astounded at how ignorant we are when it comes to natural remedies. She's not all granolacrunchyhippymomma, she's talking about the remedies her doctors would provide.

            Her sis got uterine cancer and is still in treatment. When she was diagnosed she was put in hosp. for a week and tested for any deficiencies and had her body built up to withstand treatment.  

            They picked her up and dropped her off after each treatment and in the middle she was given the choice of spas to be sent to so they she could center herself and recover. BTW, her whole family was sent to her choice to be with her. They recommended Provence because the wine would help her blood.

            She was given a whole host of herbs to take daily to keep her healthy. She showed me the box full of them when we were talking on Skype, she looks great btw. Her out of pocket has been $12 so far.

            And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

            by high uintas on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:43:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  and nutritionists and dieticians... (4+ / 0-)

            in my experience, are far too often way behind on healthy eating. As witness most hospitals' diets. I mean, what reasonable professional would liberally use splenda or nutrasweet anymore, when it's been established they cause carb cravings and people who eat them over time gain weight faster than those who don't?


            A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

            by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:43:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The last time I spoke to a dietician (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cai

              I asked her about almond flour, which I had started using as a substitute for higher-carb wheat flour.  She said she wasn't sure about its nutritional facts, and recommended that I treat it the same as whole wheat flour in the diet plan we were putting together.

              What I should have said, instead of just staring at her dumbfounded, was "Lady, you have a computer right there on your desk, maybe you could google the nutritional facts before making recommendations?"

        •  The only good reason (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, JuliathePoet

          to cut potassium is not for the heart disease per se, its because some of the meds for heart failure are "potassium sparing" which can cause a toxic amount of potassium to build up.  Especially if the patient is not taking conventional diuretics also, which drain electrolytes from the body like crazy.

          Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

          by barbwires on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:46:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  When I had knee surgery, they said I was low on (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            potassium.  Made me drink this awful tasting stuff to bring it up.  Worst stuff I ever tasted!  I got down one cup, then they brought me another.  I tried, but threw it up.  So they had to put potassium in an IV.  It burned going in, really painful stuff!  My second knee surgery, I ate bananas like crazy before the surgery, but still was low in potassium.  Had to go through that again.  

          •  Exactly what happened to me (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites, cai

            I went in for congestive heart failure, got better after several days, was released, went home with a lot of new meds and no monitoring by the cardio (I flunked a pre-mri kidney test, but he never passed that info on to my primary) and ended up in the hospital after a few weeks with acute renal failure and a 7.3 potassium level. If I hadn't mentioned the flunked MRI, I would almost certainly be dead by now -- she took blood tests and called 911. The cardios called me after the MRI flunk, told me they'd canceled the tests, and to come in after 6 months. When I came out after the renal problems, it occurred to me I should at least call and ask if I could talk to them (since all my meds had been canceled by the kidney folks) and the receptionist said in answer to my requests 1) they didn't have triage; 2) I didn't need to talk to a nurse, I could talk to her; 3) she didn't know if a heart rate of 42 was low, she wasn't a nurse; 4) It was completely up to me if I wanted to make an appointment or not before 6 months have passed.

            I can't help wonder if the fact I only have medicare might have influenced their indifference....


            A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

            by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:48:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Rare (13+ / 0-)

      to find a doctor who acknowledges the central role nutrition plays in wellness. Whole food, especially organic whole food, a wide variety of produce and fresh fruit, nuts, high quality olive oil, all of it is expensive. Not as expensive as being sick, but not cheap. I spend a lot of money on good food for my family, it's a top priority, and I often wonder how many people who are either sick or just feel poorly would have their lives improved by really high quality nutrition. I think it should be prescribed, and I think food stamps should not pay for sugary foods, "snack " foods and all the other crap I see poor folks buying at the start of the month.

      •  I'm lucky, but also stubborn (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cai

        I heard about this doc from a nurse whose primary she was. I set my heart on her, and it took years; had to move to the clinic she was in with another doc, then another, then finally lucked out when my 2nd doc quit suddenly and they were distributing the patients; I asked for her and her share hadn't been filled yet.

        She always checked for vitamin D levels in yearly checkups, etc. so I knew she was paying attention to current issues and not just reading JAMA. Not that I have anything against reading JAMA.

        Ya gotta shop around....

        There are some programs, I think one in NY, where docs can prescribe fresh vegetables. Some of the youth there report they'd never had raw greens before, or a raw carrot. But of course, the cost of their food is underwritten so they actually get it.


        A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

        by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:52:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My schtick lately has been advising people to (14+ / 0-)

    register complaints because that is what the organization of American society is based on. And it being based on complaint also, ironically, accounts for the significant effort that goes into rendering people compliant before they have a chance to complain. Having to respond to complaints, it turns out, undermines the authority on which some of our agents of government thrive. They do not want to be told what to do, which is what the filing of a complaint implies.

    So, in this instance, what I'd suggest is that you not only inform us, the readers, of your legitimate complaints, but bring them to the people who actually put together the meals they are, after all, paid to provide.

    The revisions to our health care or medical care delivery system are largely intended to encourage the recipients of care to provide feedback via their insurance middlemen to assess the quality of the care. This is what the consumer-driven health care proponents are also after, but I don't think they understand that the recipient/victim of care is incapable of effectively promoting his own care. If there is not some objective authority collecting and compiling results, individual experiences just languish as anecdotes.

    Democracy -- i.e. individual citizen participation and direction of public affairs -- is not self-installing and it's not automatic. It requires constant attention by someone, though not by everyone at the same time.

    Charity is its own reward. Charity is not entitled to exact compliance from its recipients.

    http://hannah.smith-family.com

    by hannah on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 05:01:17 AM PST

    •  'compliance from its recipients.' (6+ / 0-)

      The 'recipients'  are at the mercy of charities or the government which is now a subsidiary of corporations is exacted regardless of complaints. Any complaints we the people have are not taken into consideration as the only choices we have are binary compliance. The lesser evil of corporate non-food or real food that is priced so high it's a luxury. Unofficial CPI  makes the choices for those who are at the mercy of our for profit healthcare system and our centralized big ag food industries.

      The poorer you are the less choice and access you have. This goes for both decent food or government representation. Coke or Pepsi the people used to say when I canvased for Kerry. Both rot you teeth and poison you with sugary chemicals. Blaming the recipients for not electing decent pols or the poor for not complaining about the food they receive is pointless as they really do not have any choice in the matter. Complaining gets you more requests to send some money so the powers that be can funnel it to the makers of nasty non food.

      It would help if people we're educated about nutritious food but that goes against the grain of the wealth creators who make their profit from sick people and nonfood food. Ironic that if we bought health insurance even under ACA pools we could not afford to have a diet that kept us healthy. Complaining doesn't stop this viscous circle we just get told to sacrifice and eat our canned processed salty chemical peas. We're lucky to be able to afford the peas and not have to eat the worst evil, cat food.              

    •  A blog of its own (5+ / 0-)

      I think you bring up a really important and complicated issue. The problem in such resistance (which I totally endorse) is whom to complain to. The nutritionist does not do the overall planning; she doesn't decide the budge, and can only pick from items on an approved list. So it will take a little work to go up through the system to figure out the state or federal oversight board which could actually make a change.

      One of the things we taught and learned as organizers is that one doesn't negotiate with people who have no control over the demands you're making. One enlists them as allies or writes them off and goes and find those in control.

      so yes -- I'm good at writing complaints (when I'm not feeling the way I still do, alas) and already plan on writing two, to the cardio who almost killed me by not sending on problem blood tests to my primary even though they were the results of drugs they prescribed, and to the paramedics who refused to transport me because "I didn't look that sick." The nutritional issues are not quite as immediate (won't kill someone directly) so on the back burner, except as blog material on policy.

      Thank you for your post, especially the line, "Charity is not entitled to exact compliance from its recipients." lovely line.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:18:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A while back, (31+ / 0-)

    I went to the store and got me some dried pinto beans, some corn meal, and some smoked ham hocks so that I could fix up a meal for myself that I couldn't buy already made anywhere.

    After I'd soaked the beans overnight, and gravied em up in the slow cooker all day with the pig, I made up some cornbread, and sat down to have me a meal.

    The first bite was like that old cracker in that movie when he took the first bite of that ratatouille. Took me right back.

    When I offered some to my boyfriend, he turned up his nose, and proclaimed "that's poor people food". He stalked off to the freezer to micro a chicken breast. Yuk. I never ate chicken breast growing up. My parents just never bought it. It tends to dry out, and don't taste like chicken to me.

    I love home made peasant food.

    Soup that's got smoked turkey necks boiled down for the base.

    Home made sauerkraut.

    All the low parts of the pig. I still think the best meat I ever tasted was the pig roast that we used to do every summer as a kid. It took like two days to cook them things. We ate every bit of it, including the shitllins.

    Ima plant me some mustard, collard, and turnip greens this summer, my boyfriend go get him some mackdonalds.

    He ordered boneless chicken wings at Buffalo wild wings lol. What the fuck kinda chicken wing aint got no bone?

    •  I have been using turkey legs a lot (5+ / 0-)

      I have been using turkey drumsticks instead of ham hocks, for two reasons. First they are less fatty, and second, they have more meat on them, the ham hocks we get are just skimpy on the meat lately!

      I use them in beans, soup, greens, etc. Great taste and lots of meat for cheap.

    •  poor people's food! (7+ / 0-)

      that is exactly what I thought of when I saw the title of the diary.  

      not the cheap greasy tasteless slop they give out at most charity meals

      but GOOD poor people's food that usually includes a mixture of beans and rice or beans and corn.

      your post make me think of the good black eyed peas my mom used to make every new year's eve with the bone from the Christmas ham.  with a good hunk of homemade cornbread.  i want some RIGHT NOW

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:20:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are making me so hungry!!! (4+ / 0-)

      My grandfather was southern, so nostalgia's operating here as well.

      "Poor people food." hah. The mennonites have a lovely recipe book, I forget the name, full of "poor people food" from around the world. It's so good.

      The trouble is of course that "poor people food" now isn't actually quite food.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:21:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I grew up on a farm, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, marina, melo

      and we ate better than some rich people I know!  We had 32 acres and rented another 19.  There was wooded areas and wild things that grew on the property that we used.  Wild strawberries, wild grapes, blackberries, red raspberrys, wild asparagus.  Morel mushrooms.  We had an uncle who hunted for sport, gave us, the "poor relations"  the meat, and we enjoyed venison.  We raised chickens, ducks and geese and a calf we raised to a bull, on grass and hay and later ate. We raised our own veggies, had cherry trees and pear and apple and plums and we canned and froze everything we could, put up pumkins and squash and potatoes and cabage in the root celler.  We wrapped green tomatoes in newspapers and put them in baskets in the root celler and when December came we had fresh red ripe tomatoes.  We didn't have money, but we had lots of fresh, no salt, no preservatives food.  

    •  Reminds me, the worst thing I ever (0+ / 0-)

      got at McDonald's was a boneless "McRib" sandwich--my expectations were low, but apparently not low enough. I would not have guessed it was pork--it barely resembled meat.

      The real fall-off-the-bone stuff, what you grew up on, is to die for...

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 05:49:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps it varies by location? Our local free (24+ / 0-)

    lunch is all fresh, cooked on site from scratch. Various groups, mostly churches, take turns. I've seen our Sunday School children do prep work chopping up ingredients, and I've seen the cooking when I've volunteered. Volunteers are also invited to stay after the guests are gone and eat the same food, which helps keep it reality based.

    Having food limitations of course is a challenge at the best of times - so much harder if you aren't making your own.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 05:39:07 AM PST

  •  I have no idea what meds you're on, but (6+ / 0-)

    you should contact a compounding pharmacist to see if they can do it for you.  If they can, your Rx costs will likely go way down.  It takes too long to explain why...so just try.  If not local, find one somewhere because they will mail your drugs to you.  

    Sorry about the food situation.  Seemingly, it doesn't matter whether you're in a hospital or nursing home, etc., the "institutional" food all sucks.  Keep your chin up...you'll be out soon...

    The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. - Dante Alighieri

    by Persiflage on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:07:20 AM PST

    •  Out soon (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allergywoman, RiveroftheWest

      Alas, I live here, so won't be out soon. But will hopefully be healthy enough to make more of my own food -- and if I ever qualify for food stamps, will be afford to eat my own.

      Hospital food where I was fits the 50s idea of "heart healthy" diet -- lots of substitutes and fakes (fake maple syrup, etc.) rather than the modern mediterranean diet concepts. So inedible, basically.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:25:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have to stop subsidizing JUNK food and (20+ / 0-)

    give the help to people who grow real food, not ingredients for factory food

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:07:24 AM PST

  •  Growing up eating pinto beans (12+ / 0-)

    and mayonnaise (actually miracle whip) sandwiches sometimes as a kid I can't imagine how much exponentially harder it would have been if any of us had food sensitivities.

  •  In a county in upstate NY (20+ / 0-)

    the local sheriff has his jail.

    Another semi-county worker who works on nutrition issues, got himself involved with the jail keepers.  They were feeding the inmates some of the typical  food as described by kestrel sparhawk.  Now, especially if an inmate has diabetes or heart disease, they receive a diet which takes that into account.  It has lowered emergency medical calls to the jail for heart attacks and diabetic seizures.

    I'm not sure where the idea came from, but all it took was one person, talking some sense to the sheriff, county medical people, etc.    

  •  Fat, Salt, & Sugar Are the Three Major (19+ / 0-)

    food groups in the American diet.  Nowhere else on earth is more highly processed food consumed.  If it doesn't come out of a can, a box, or a plastic freezer bag it seldom makes it to a citizen's table.  There's really no mystery why obesity is pandemic in our country.

    What is fed to children in school, to patients in hospital, to the elderly in care facilities, and the ever-growing population in prison is designed to please the tongue and wreak havoc on the body.

    The less our food smells before it's zapped, the more we like it.  Stick your nose into a bag of potatoes, a basket of corn, the flesh of freshly butchered meat, a bag of limes, even a flat of eggs before they're refrigerated and they smell heavenly in a heady variety of scents that set the stomach growling and the mouth drooling.

    Now go stick your nose in a can of string beans, a frozen dinner, a box of orange mac 'n' cheese, a brick of Velveeta, or a box of Fruit Loops.  You'll smell nothing but paper and plastic.  

    It's not food.  Calling it food doesn't make it food.  It's packaged fat, salt, and sugar.  And those are the three major food groups that should be most limited in food that's healthy to living things.

    So why do we eagerly feed it to our children, our sick, and our elderly? Because they can't cook and feed themselves; only the defenseless are fed this way.  Because we can save and make a lot of money by doing so.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:07:32 AM PST

  •  great diary, and this is just the tip (18+ / 0-)

    of the iceberg too. It's a foreshadowing of what is to come if real progress is not made wrt economic inequality. As a once-strong middle class ages out and their fixed incomes can no longer sustain them (us), they (we) will become more and more dependent on family and community. And it's certainly not just "old people". TPTB know that. Occupy figured that out too. Hunger is being used as a political weapon of mass destruction in the ongoing, escalating Class War.

    "Welcome to the Reservation", as Russell Means said.

    “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint.
    When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."
    ~ Archbishop Dom Helder Camara of Brazil

    If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

    by Lady Libertine on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:13:37 AM PST

    •  things to come (3+ / 0-)

      I'm fascinated myself that hunger means something so different now -- technically, the poor don't feel hungry when "fed," but the food is anti-nutritious.

      The question then becomes of course how to get to "progress." I don't believe we will progress allowing Democrats in the 1% to run the country and make decisions for the rest of us. But too often blogs in DK seem to assume any Demo will do.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:32:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm allergic to beef, pork and lamb (8+ / 0-)

    And have reactions to the GM corn that is in just about everything.

    I would have a lot of trouble with many of these free meals.



    Women create the entire labor force.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:16:30 AM PST

  •  Hospital food. (8+ / 0-)

    Similar experience in the hospital.

    Heart healthy trays.....Processed meats.....UGH. Oatmeal, hospital style.
    Pre packaged dressings and the really bad peanut butter with all the fat and sugar added.

    The smell alone was enough to cause me to stop allowing the trays into my room.

    I was alone in the big city so it was not possible to bring meals from home.

    I was able to "double" up on the salads. Pre packaged iceberg lettuce that was brown on the edges, with some limp cabbage and carrot strings.

    And friggin TEA. Gah. I hate TEA, especially that stuff.
    I lost about 10 pounds over the course of the month with my repeated visits. They let me hobble to the cafeteria once, three floors down and lots of hallways. Most painful experience ever, nope, they don't have real wheelchairs now. Pushcart things with no padding. My leg was swollen to three times it's own size, black from bruising and the DVTS that the hospital caused during a procedure.

    There was no food left that day, they were cleaning up.
    I sat and cried. So hungry.

    The poor and the sick. You get what they decide you are going to get.

    "As the days go by, we face the increasing inevitability that we are alone in a godless, uninhabited, hostile and meaningless universe. Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you?" - Holly, Red Dwarf

    by pale cold on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:31:39 AM PST

    •  I think hospital food (5+ / 0-)

      is getting better- at least I was pleasantly surprised at what I've seen when visiting someone.

      It might just be our local hospital though- the food in their cafeteria is so good that my husband and I will stop for dinner there if we're in the area.

      My daughter told me I should never admit this cause it makes us sound like crazy old people. Then our city magazine ran a "best places to eat" piece- and the hospital cafeteria was on it.
      So there.

    •  In Tahiti (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allergywoman, RiveroftheWest

      I ended up in a hospital in Tahiti (long story) where it is standard for family and friends to bring all food and linens for the patients. Luckily the staff took care of that for me...

    •  I'm so sorry (3+ / 0-)

      I know that feeling -- when I came home, I felt so sick that it was too much bother to make anything. In the hospital, the food was as you describe -- and there's NO REASON to provide bad food; it's just as cheap to get freshly made peanut butter as additive-rich pb, healthier, and tastier. Abandoning a meat-based diet, particularly since meat is actively unhealthy now if mass-produced, would make cheaper and more nourishing meals. using dark green lettuce instead of iceberg, all by itself, would make more sense; why give a null food to people?

      I hope you're home with good food and friends now.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:35:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on who you are and what problems you (3+ / 0-)

        have.

        I grew up in a natural foods vegetarian household. I am allergic to most of the best sources of plant protein, from nuts and seeds to wheat and peanut butter. The only source I know I can have safely is soy, and most soy products are both more expensive per pound than meat and/or cross-contaminated with things I can't have.

        I've never had a problem with chicken or turkey. Due to my severe dairy allergy, I am cross-allergic to beef, though. :)

        •  right -- complications abound (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          allergywoman, RiveroftheWest

          I meant that even in the mass-produced hospital foods, a little thought would make them more nutritious. So far as I know, even though hospital diets are supposedly provided for individual issues, docs would have a hard time ordering, just for example, an organic meal which excludes nuts, legumes, and wheat without the nutritionist completely freaking out.

          I strongly suspect that the allergies to certain meds I have are actually generally allergies to the filler pharma puts into generic  drugs -- because they appear and disappear depending on the pharmacy's source of generic.

          I suspect I'm older than you, because natural foods families were considered "health nuts" when I was growing up, and very rare. However, poverty ironically helped us, because oatmeal was cheaper than cold cereals, beans and rice cheaper than meat, and so forth, so the vast offerings of additives of the 70s were not common on our plates.


          A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

          by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:00:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm of the Rachel Maddow generation. :) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            My mom converted to vegetarianism when meat prices spiked in the 70s. We were ovo-lacto vegetarians, though, and we never had tofu on our plates (or as I affectionately called it "toad food"). It's probably why I can have soy now, oddly enough. Less exposure.

          •  Depends on the hospital. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest, allergywoman

            One a relative ended up in wouldn't give anything but a standardized low-sodium diet in the cardiac ward.

            They insisted on giving a diet-managed diabetic insulin rather than give her an alternative to mashed potatoes and sugar-bearing jello every meal. Said diabetic grew up in an era where she learned once you get insulin once, you are forever insulin-dependent - and THANK GOODNESS she'd already learned otherwise since then or her doctor would have had serious issues dealing with her when she got out.

            •  SUGAR BEARING JELLO? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, allergywoman

              Well, that's a reassurance on the quality of nutritionists in hospital. Though the recent stuff suggests that's still better than fake sugar jello. But if sugar it is, surely fruit would be less horrific.

              There needs to be a nonprofit with the specific goal of educating hospital departments about modern nutrition -- I don't even mean the more complex holism my friends have been converted to, but just plain foods that help/foods that hinder. particularly if the potatoes and jello were at the same meal.

              Glad she knew that you didn't have become insulin-dependent permanently.


              A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

              by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:30:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Yup. (3+ / 0-)

        I make pretty much everything from scratch, have for many years.
        I had a heart attack. Thing is, my heart is "pristine" and I have  "perfect" cholesterol. My issue is something else entirely.  

        My food sensitivities are to food additives, and I also have some mondo eating disorders. (size 2 at this time. OY) I also have chrohn's disease. They sent mostly stuff I shouldn't eat anyway. LOL.

        I would have been happy with some corn flakes and some milk at that point.
        nope. Too hard for them.

        food should help make you healthier, that seems to be of secondary consideration. Now, if I was a pill popper, I would have been supplied the very best! :)

        "As the days go by, we face the increasing inevitability that we are alone in a godless, uninhabited, hostile and meaningless universe. Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you?" - Holly, Red Dwarf

        by pale cold on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:03:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Food allergies. Diabetes. Diverticulitis. (7+ / 0-)

    Hell, try having celiac disease and being poor. You'll find very little that you can eat in food programs. And almost none of it, as you said, fresh, well-cooked, and good for you (as in the ideal lower-fat, lower-salt, low sugar foods).

  •  It's disturbing that (10+ / 0-)

    you have reached this point.  You got a good education. You worked.  You paid your taxes and lived a responsible life.  You gave back. Then what? You got sick? And now you're going hungry?

    Nobody should go hungry. That said, hunger is getting its nasty tentacles into some places people still assume are safe.

    Your reality is my recurrent nightmare.

    •  Good description of disturbing (7+ / 0-)

      I spent years feeling sorry for myself, but one advantage of living in public housing is that means I have to feel sorry for EVERYONe. Which is exhausting and not useful.

      In terms of poverty, I lived like this in college, and college lasted a long time for me (six degrees' worth), so in some ways it's comfortable and keeps me young. I also know more about how to cope than many who didn't work their way through, etc. but also ended up poor. (I'm not the only ex-college professor in public housing, and was distressed to find out how many former nurses live here.) But I didn't plan to end up poor, and I was as responsible as someone without financial guidance or mentors could manage to be.... definitely a taxpayer and a worker almost all my life.

      "hunger is getting its nasty tentacles into some places people still assume are safe." Nice line. and unfortunately too true.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:42:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish I could get public housing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        the stress of worrying every Sept that my rent will double is not good for my illness/prospects of recovery (as is paying 3/4 of my income for rent as I do). So ironic.

        You sound admirably positive about your situation (at least not negative), unlike myself. I don't know anyone personally who's in my shoes so I suspect I compare too much, being surrounded by middle class friends/extended family who can keep their heat above 55. I need to learn not to compare.

        •  Getting public housing (0+ / 0-)

          If you make less than $24,000 a year, you're probably eligible for public housing. Check around in your area. It often takes a year or more to get in, but the rules are you don't pay more than 1/3 your income in rent, and medical bills are often included as expenses which cut your rent. There's a lot of student housing in this city, so it doesn't much matter what the income is from. I mean, let's face it -- with the minimum wage what it is, there are lots of people in ph with fulltime jobs.

          Growing up poor and living a social justice life gave me a boost for positive attitudes, but it's not like that every day -- trust me! Do read all the comments on this; you'll feel so much in good company from all the DK people in shoes like yours. Perhaps we need a special interest support group....

          Hang in there! I don't know what I'd do without knowing other people in the same boat economically (incl half my family.) I think you're really strong. Hope you go other places during the day to get warm. But comfort yourself by knowing that germs have a lot harder time flourishing in cold rooms! All your mc friends are more likely to get sick.


          A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

          by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:12:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  not if you have assets as far as I know (0+ / 0-)

            I worked so have IRA's--I was able to save even though I always worked in nonprofit and never made over 30K a year. I was raised to be thrifty. I have no family that could take me in in a pinch, not high enough limits on my one credit card, and none of the kind of connections with friends that would likely take me in in an emergency. I need to keep that nest egg because I don't have anything/one else to lean on if something happens (say, I get cancer. I am in the middle of having a bit of a worry about a test around that as it is)

            I assume many people with disability have investments just because to get SSDI you have to have worked x amount in the last ten years. I don't know what they do for housing. Have you heard that people have to spend everything down to get a place where rent is controlled relative to income as you describe? It would make sense if that were the case.

            Thanks for the very kind words. I am strong. I also have PTSD from being too strong ie alone with catastrophes without enough support. I now get to live that daily.

    •  was mine too until it happened (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      Then it was particularly scary because of it.

  •  This is a good diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allergywoman, viral, RiveroftheWest

    Laugh ..or make fun of me but I still believe in praying over your food.   We have little control of what we are being served up from the grocery stores...Eat sensibly and hope for the best.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:58:15 AM PST

    •  Don't tell anyone (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allergywoman, Vetwife

      But I do too. I like it, and it improves the flavor, imo.

      Of course, you might not recognize my prayer, which always begins Baruch ata adonai...


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:43:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  hamotzi lechem min ha-arets. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        I only know the bread one. Since finances went downhill, finally resulting in getting on SNAP, I find that before a nice meal I make for myself I am saying "thank you for this food". (lol but who is "you"? ;))

        I am blessed that I can still eat reasonably well, especially at the beginning of the month. I am sorry that you haven't been able to. I guess one good thing about this is that I"m experiencing some gratitude.

        •  The nice thing about being Jewish... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jplanner

          is that there's no requirement to believe in G-d, just to do certain things. I find doing those things makes me feel more connected to the universe. (And I try to remember the g-d thing just not to offend more traditional sensibilities.)

          Glad to hear you're on SNAP. I'm amazed how grateful I am for what I have after reading so many comments from our community about hungry people in it.

          (btw, I only remember bread and wine, but I find finishing in English is just fine generally. and I can be specific: "borei...these awesome vegetables.")


          A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

          by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:17:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Don't Eat the Food (0+ / 0-)

    Don't eat the food. It's filled with poison based on what you said. Do some research and try to find a decent food bank and someone to deliver food to you. They are trying to kill you so that they don't have to care for you. Send this story to Bill Maher. He is keen on this subject. Our food system rots. Request a vegetarian or only vegan food. The meat is filled with junk and has no nutritional value. They don't test the entire processed product. Good luck.

    •  last week the food pantry I go to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      -I get a bag of mixed groceries once a month from them--had this disgusting "ground turkey" as their meat option. Apparently the whole chicken parts they normally give didn't arrive. I read the ingredients list--disturbingly long--and the nutritional label. The saturated fat content was through the roof. Way more than even a steak. (it was 18g I think per,small, serving and 70% of the RDA for sodium). I am grateful they sought out giving some kind of meat/protein to the recipients, but this turkey paste-in-a-tube(!) was really bad.

      I did not take it. I told the very nice and well meaning worker that it would make me sick. I asked if I could come and just get the chicken the next week instead when they'd have chicken (this was 'my" week to come so my request wsa irregular).

      Picking up my chicken tomorrow. I don't eat much meat but it is a treat to have it once in a while. I did show him how to read the nutrition label and that it was probably not good for anyone. Most of the people likely will be duped that it is "turkey" so it is "healthy"! poor people.

    •  As mentioned by jplanner (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai

      Food pantries can be a bit dodgy... and anyway, right now I'm not getting around. But I am not going to eat the entrees, anyway; my sister sent me a birthday present last week -- first time in 15 years -- and it was money! So I bought good, healthy food that's unsalted -- and have enough for guests, too. (There are other people here who can't eat the food downstairs. Or won't. The Evil Parent sort just view our refusing charity food the way they view 6 year olds who won't eat their mushy peas.)

      Thank you for your concern. I really do appreciate it.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:21:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps a grant could fund a nutritionist visit (4+ / 0-)

    It would be interesting to try to get funding somehow for a few visits from a geriatric nutritionist, both to consult on the menus and to give a talk or two for the residents about how their food choices can keep them healthier.

    One of your local agencies on aging might be able to help. These days, with white whole wheat flour and easy additions of fiber, etc. there are ways to improve the nutrition without greatly changing the flavors. Salt can be gradually reduced, too.

    Would be worth a try, surely. Cheap food does not have to be bad food.

    •  Ooh, interesting (3+ / 0-)

      I know the head of the Assisted Living program in this building. I might suggest he look at the diary and the comments in it, for a start. he's always thinking about ways to improve the program.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:30:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great idea! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, kestrel sparhawk

        Our county agency for seniors does a lot of outreach in our area. And sometimes the hospital does outreach too. Sometimes it just takes getting the ball rolling. If they're been doing things one way forever it may not occur to them to change until prompted! Offering just a few more fresh and healthy choices can be a good start.

    •  to build on your comment, maybe there is a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VA gentlewoman, RiveroftheWest

      nutritionist who would volunteer their services. Maybe someone here on DK has a connection. Or if there is a nutrition graduate program nearby, maybe that would be a way to find an upper level student. Also, many new grads (schools often have job placement ofices), even, may not be working in their chosen profession yet but would welcome the chance to get volunteer resume building experience I am sure.

      I've found professionals to volunteer this way before when non-profits can't afford to hire someone.

  •  What a tremendous truth there is in these words- (6+ / 0-)
    Yet too much of what one eats is actually a gift to wealthy corporations: sell us barely edible food, and we will feed it to barely surviving people, expanding profit and relieving our consciences.

    "The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?”---Bob Marley

    by lyvwyr101 on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:33:02 AM PST

  •  More variety (0+ / 0-)

    My comment is addressed to all the people who have a complaint of food allergy or sensitivity, be it long standing or newly acquired.  Try new things.  Get some more diversity in your diet.  Even check out the website eattheweeds.com.  Humans evolved as omnivores and we are not meant to survive on one ration.  

    Four crops (corn, soy, wheat, and rice) account for 75% of the calories consumed by humanity.  No wonder we have people developing sensitivities as they subject their gut to the same stuff over and over.  Apes in the wild browse from hundreds of plant species, and they search out certain ones if they are feeling ill.  We need to (re)learn to eat in that manner, nibbling a wide variety of foods and paying attention to the ones that make us feel better.  

    Standardization is great for the bottom line of modern industrial agriculture.  If they could grow protein, fat, and carbohydrate in one package and make more profit at it, they would.  In fact, with corn dogs made from pink slime, and chicken nuggets, they might have found the most profitable solution.  

    But what is good for the food industry's bottom line is not good for our health.  I am fortunate to not have any food allergies or sensitivities.  I attribute that to my wide ranging diet.  I try anything and (almost) everything, even the new weeds in the garden (after checking them out on a place like Plants For a Future). A very diverse diet means a very diverse gut flora, and that diversity means they can adjust to new foods.  The more new foods you can eat, the more new foods you will be able to eat.  

    There is a reason that vets put pets with dietary disorders on a lamb and rice diet -- it's because those are unusual ingredients that are different from the corn/soy/chicken parts that make up all the other feeds that the pet has developed a reaction to.  Do the same thing with your own diet.  If you haven't ever eaten boiled quinoa with stir fried amaranth greens, chances are you haven't developed a reaction to it.

    •  Not true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      I react a lot to seeds. Can't handle flax, quinoa, sunflower, etc.

    •  Agreed, but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Ryepower12

      I think we've established the point of being poor is that we don't get to make choices about our diet... at least, far fewer.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:31:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  poor people usually can't afford variety (3+ / 0-)

      You give advice here that the diarist and people in similar position cannot do. Even though you are responding to the food allergy people as you say, I assume you are also commenting on the main topic of the diary as well which is how hard it is to eat healthily when poor.

      So many people can't understand (myself included before I was poor) that the poor do their best and sometimes make a huge effort but as the diarist says you can't control your diet if you don't have much money. Carbs are cheapest and are the bulk of what is in many food pantries, for example.

      Before you say I should garden and grow amaranth (I live in the city so wild gathered by the roadside wouldn't be healthy), know that I'm disabled so I can only manage I very small raised bed. Many poor people work multiple jobs so do not have time/energy to garden (nor money for initial investment probably). Many others are disabled/elderly.

      quinoa is expensive.

      •  Weeds aren't (0+ / 0-)

        Here's what people did during the Depression -- no food and no money.

        •  I addressed gathering "weeds" in my post. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          Apparently you reply only to my last sentence.

          If you read above it, I'd  just said that gathering "weeds" is not often/always healthy in a city. I used amaranth as an example.  I also said I am disabled myself so cannot personally roam far. That would be the case for many elderly and disabled people.

          So in fact I addressed your very point already.

           They have done tests...wild edibles are largely not healthy if they grow by the road side in many places. City soils are often contaminated with lead so many yards cannot even grow gardens safetly. In some places children are not even supposed to play in they yards--lead poisoning is common just from getting dirt on their hands.

          It is admirable to know how and where to gather wild edibles. I have been very interested in it and was in fact learning about that before I lost my ability to walk more than a block or so five years ago. It is very difficult to learn about gathering from a book--helps greatly to learn in person. But that knowledge isn't as widespread as it was I suspect, in the 1930s. There are less people to teach you now. So it would be harder for low income people today to learn. And of less of a use for city dwellers, anyway.

          If I were able bodied and lived in or had access to the suburbs/country surely I would be gathering and growing  most of my own food. I'd probably learn to hunt as well.

          I don't like when people say "the poor should just .." and then name things that actually are not doable for the majority of people. This is what you did in  your intial post and you continue it with this one.

  •  When food as a commodity outweighs food as.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, RiveroftheWest

    ..nutrition Food, Inc

    When the economics of highly processed food and "free trade" zones(FTZ) are the determining variables to what kind of food is "manufactured" not actual nutritional value and health

    Thx  kestrel sparhawk for raising this issue..

    Yet too much of what one eats is actually a gift to wealthy corporations: sell us barely edible food, and we will feed it to barely surviving people, expanding profit and relieving our consciences.
    ..and for fighting back to make things better
    •  Food and economics (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, RiveroftheWest

      Yr welcome -- and the more the better, imo. I'd love someone at DK to do a serious examination of the World Food Prize, which was established while I was living in Iowa and so clearly was a way for Big Ag to make itself look as though it was doing the world a favor by giving them GMOs and new and stronger pesticides.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need to disengage from corporations/salt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    It takes a huge effort the way society is set up

    None of us should be participating in all the salt/sugar the corporations load into the food.  When we get older, salt and sugar become life threatening.

    One has to wonder why do the cardiac wings of hospitals, who profess to lovingly help people, serve salt in the food.   The heart wing should be salt free, but we don't have the option on this country.  There shouldn't be vending machines in hospitals with vending machines.  I was at the hospital once late at night for someone and starving and I had to eat Grandma's Cookies for a substantial meal, that's literally all there was.

    Look, you need to buy all your food organic and cook everything at home if you want to get away from salt.   But that's a luxury these days with the way we let corporations set it up for us.

    I myself cook meals for my parents (I'm the lazy slacker who doesn't buy into the corporations call for more profits, I mean "work" all day every day until you pass out and have no time or energy for anything else).

    And for myself I am trying to wean myself off junk.  It's nearly impossible.

    The rest of the developing world is buying into this crap and  losing their healthy food and culture.

    •  Yay for "slackers" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      It took me a long time to figure out that so many people are working like mad to live in nice areas and not have to work. So few jobs actually benefit community (of course, I always considered my job as a professor was one.)

      I too have been in the er and eaten dubious snacks as desperation dinners. After salted peanuts, what?

      It's worse outside cardio. Last time I was in, the docs noted my diet as "normal" and my first meal, I was presented with pepperoni pizza and apple pie as the predominant offering. I was starving, after weeks of renal failure and not being able to eat, and ate it -- but talk about ridiculous. "Normal" hospital food can still be RELATIVELY healthy. (Don't get me started on docs who only focus on one set of problems and didn't think to order low salt diet; I had to throw a small snit before I got changed over, because only docs can order specific diets.)


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:39:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Forgot to mention... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        As for "weaning off junk" I've found that making home made junk food, preferably from Joy of Cooking recipes from the 30s, means that you eat relatively nutritious treats, so they're not junk. Old recipes use less sugar and salt; I'm talking cookies, cake, candy, etc. A friend makes me beef jerky with my own teriyaki sauce, which of course will have to change because of salt, but I've found carrying around dried "safe" snacks protects me from even wanting vendoland foods. And a smear of homemade caramel on a healthy seedy cracker with chopped walnuts on top makes a dynamite snack. Butter and sugar are not enemies, just friends we don't want to hang out with all the time.


        A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

        by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:44:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Try Ezekial low salt (it's actually no salt) bread (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          at Fred Meyer. I just found it and it's good.  On the fine print on the package it says ZERO salt (so why didn't they say it on the cover) , so try to get some of that to maybe substitute some of the breads that are salty (breads are very salty)

          I have that book, Joy of Cooking.  It's on the shelf and my best friend bought it for me, I will keep in mind it's a good resource

          Well, my dad is on a zero salt diet per his heart doctor so we do it.

          We just cook anything but leave out the salt.  I really feel it has given him years more and after 6 months you won't notice.  That's what his heart doctor said and it's true if you can do it.  Me, I can't yet, but my dad doesn't have a choice.  My mom is diabetic so we're dealing with that too!

          We make stew and leave out the salt.  To me it's tasteless but if you use organic vegetables it takes a lot better.

          For us time and money are huge constraints, but we do what we can (especially time is the big problem)

          Good luck ;)

          •  At risk of recipes... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            I adjusted fairly easily to no/low salt. One of the secrets for just drastically reducing is add it at the table, measured; even low salt diets let you have about a tsp of day, so if the food is fresh and not naturally containing sodium you've got a bit of leeway. You might find that palatable. I can make myself a mean Tom Kha Gai using just a little fish sauce, and the other flavors mean salt isn't a problem. for me, American food requires salt because otherwise it's generally dull, so I find making unfamiliar foods help -- I have no expectations for a particular taste,, so they're satisfying or not on their own. For stew, I recommend using wine as the liquid -- I didn't like the no-salt taste till I made it with wine and bayleaves, and some tomatoes.

            Good luck with your cooking adventures!


            A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

            by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:22:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  For CHF, try CoEnzymeQ10 (0+ / 0-)

    My favorite nutritionist, Jeanne Carper highly recommends it.

    Well, I'm very pleased to say we have some very exciting case histories that confirm the validity of natural medicines. In collecting those and verifying them, we talked to the patient, we have real names and for the most part, used real names except in cases where the patient wanted to protect their privacy. We often checked the medical records themselves to verify the validity of the miracle cure. And we verified the information with a doctor(s) who was involved in the case. Interestingly, some cases were volunteered by physicians themselves. One of the most dramatic cases has to do with co-enzyme Q10 which is a natural substance that comes in pill form that strengthens the heart in a most remarkable way and is used throughout the world to re-energize the heart and boost heart functions especially in cases of congestive heart failure.
    Doctor Michael Sole is one of the world's leading cardiologists and experts in heart failure and a well-known professor at the University of Toronto. He had a patient who he told to get a pacemaker, or else the man would be in severe danger of deteriorating heart and possibly death. The man did not do it. In fact, he started taking high doses of Coenzyme Q10. Sometime later, Dr. Sole had occasion to see the man again, and to his great astonishment, the man's heart had become so much stronger that he did not any longer need a pacemaker. Dr. Sole said he had never seen such a remarkable recovery in his experience as a cardiologist. Dr. Sole is now undertaking a study of Coenzyme Q10 to understand how Coenzyme Q10 might work and its potential in treating heart failure. This is one of numerous incredible cases that I discovered and verified of the enormous healing powers of natural remedies.
    The above is an excerpt from an interview, but she spends a while chapter on it in her book "Miracle Cures."
    The best thing is that it is something your body makes naturally, so it doesn't interfere with medications (but check the label...always).

    And I know what you mean about the food. My mom is in a nursing home and the food is not what it could be. Most of it is overcooked and the choices are sometimes baffling. I often wonder what would happen if people in hospitals, rehab facilities and nursing homes were fed really good, fresh, nutritious food.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 02:33:04 PM PST

    •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      I've heard of the enzyme and will look for it in February. My doc approves of it, though she hadn't heard of it for CHF.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:22:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Carper says it's good for lots of things... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        but the most dramatic was for CHF.
        Hopefully your doc will approve. See if you can get the Miracle Cures book at a library, or on Kindle if you have one.
        Problem with most doctors, even today, is that they frown on natural remedies. They don't even acknowledge (most of the time) that most pharmaceuticals are simply plants and substances in nature that are synthesized (you can't make a profit if you don't create a "new" substance...yeah, it' a racket)
        I'm not dissing doctors, mind you...my dad was a surgeon, really good at what he did. But when it came to nutrition, he knew bupkus. Granted, he graduated from Med School in the mid-forties, but so many of today's doctors still aren't hip to what good nutrition and some supplements can do for a body (and I don't think nutrition is even part of the curriculum).
        We have to remember that "Western" medicine has been advance through war - we're good at drugs and surgery, but not so much on what's good for a body.
        Anyway, good luck. I hope all turns out well for you!

        Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

        by MA Liberal on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:54:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Docs and nutrition (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MA Liberal, melo

          You reminded me of an event I'd forgotten -- I worked on our student newspaper in college, and one day was assigned to go interview Andrew Weil, who at that time was unknown except for something about marijuana I don't recall. I took him to our u's pharmaceutical garden, and it was one of the most riveting afternoons of my life! He has only become better and more interesting with time; I follow his writing assiduously (never met him again). He was the first doc I ever met who actually knew that pharmaceutical plants still had so much value.


          A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

          by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:27:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As Hippocrates said... (0+ / 0-)

            "Let food be your medicine and medicine your food."

            :)

            Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

            by MA Liberal on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 07:58:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  In her early 60s, (0+ / 0-)

            my mom developed a crippling arthritis in her hands and feet.  Her fingers looked bent and twisted like an old crone's.  She went to see Dr. Weil in his office in Manhattan, and he advised her to cut out cow dairy from her diet: no milk, no cheese, no ice cream, not even a splash of milk in her coffee.  He said in 8 to 12 months, her symptoms would disappear, but if she had even the slightest bit of milk--a taste of ice cream at a party, or a cube of cheese--start counting from zero again.  Most people, he said, should not drink or eat dairy from cows, he said, but especially Italians like her.  Her ancestors had sheep and goats, not cows.  Once she was free of arthritis, she could phase in goat yogurt and pecorino romano (sheep milk cheese.)  But not cow juice.

            She was strong and didn't have any cow-related dairy at all and 8 months later almost to the day, she got up one morning and realized she could bounce down the stairs like she used to in her forties instead of taking one step at a time, cringing in pain with every step down.  Her fingers never un-twisted, they always looked like she should be in terrible pain, but she was pain free from arthritis until the day she died in her mid-80s.

          •  Oh, I forgot, Dr. Weil also told her to take (0+ / 0-)

            Co-Q 10 and Quercetin.  She'd been having problems with her gums and her dentist had told her he's have to start removing teeth and fit her for dentures if the situation did not improve; her gums firmed up and she never had a single tooth removed.  She died with a full set of teeth, all of them hers, in her mouth.

      •  I have heard of it for that from a well respected (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        source. Cool you doc is on board. I wish health insurance prescription benefits would, at the very least, cover supplements (like fish oil, say) that have been empirically proven and are accepted as such by the AMA.

  •  Anyone here on Food Stamps or go to a Food Pantry? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

     Our Food Card/Stamps/SNAP has just been cut - again.  The Food Pantry program may have been cut back.

      Wait a minute!   I have $15/mo for extra groceries because, fairly, I make more than the average SS person.  Luck.  That's all it was.  $15 doesn't buy much or do you notice?  I just have added a car payment into my budget.  I'll buy left over deli and milk and that's it for the month.

      I truly appreciate our Food Pantry.  They are cheerful and helpful and work hard to get the best food for us they can. I see more organic and low salt food.  There is a turkey every November thanks to a local company, and a ham or turkey for December.  We can get whole wheat bread, multigrain bread, a variety of cereals, fresh produce (well - more or less fresh), canned goods, meat, and such.  But then there are donuts and cakes and luncheon meat. Not good for us but it helps us feel good.
      But it is mostly food nobody wanted and so wasn't sold by the Best Sell date.  

      So we get excited and queue up early, winter and summer, make out our lists and wait in line patiently, very thankful for every bit we get, that no one else wanted, except for a couple times a year when big companies want to increase their charity contributions.

    •  Fresh produce...that's great! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest
      •  One of our local churches get fresh produce from (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Ryepower12

        local farmers, gives it away at least once a month.  They put up a sign when they have it.  I went once last summer, we were low on food, and no money.  There were over 200 people showed up.  They gave out corn on the cob, lettuce, cabbage, cantelope and honeydew, yogurt, and some whole grain breads.  I was near the end of the line, had 2 of my granddaughters with me, they had alot left over and they gave myself and each of my granddaughters a box and filled it up.  I had enough corn I froze some.  One of my granddaughters lives with me full time, the other spends most of the summer with me. The yogurt was a favorite with them, as was the cantelope and honeydew.  

  •  nauseating lunch. I mean literally. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    My mother forced us to eat our vegetables...all...when I was a kid. And, except in the summer when we had a small garden, they were canned and often times gray. Gray string beans. Being forced, and having sensitive taste/palate as a kid, I would feel ill and dread it.

    I may be in a similar boat as the diarist if I am subject to the SNAP cuts. Only thing is, being in my 40s and in market rate private rental housing, there aren't local places I could go for a meal. Before I had SNAP I was not eating well and tried to go to the elderly free daily lunch but they turned me away because I was not old enough. I'm finding that there is very little support for disabled people compared fto the elderly even though it seems my position in life vis a vis physical issues, finances, and relative lack of social support mimic them.

    I should be more positive. I am very grateful I now receive a decent amount from SNAP. (some of us actually do). I can actually eat better than right before I'd gotten it, including fresh vegetables. That is fortunate because I have high cholesterol not controlled by medication so need to keep a low glycemic  diet. I probably eat too many scarbs the second half of the month especially the last week but it doesn't seem dire.

    When I go to a certain food pantry they just give you a bag of groceries. I usually leave about half of it there as I cannot eat it. I am fortunate that I am still in the position that I can do that. I can't eat all the pasta and rice they give us. (And the canned vegetables.-I feel so bad for the kids who have to eat them!) No wonder why low income people are heavier.

    I too used to be middle class. I used to volunteer in a food pantry myself and in fact am now volunteering in another capacity at the same elder organization that wouldn't let me get a meal, ironically. I had an interview for the volunteer position and am sure the young woman had no idea I was in a similar position as their clients. In fact, the client I support is less disabled and in a better financial position than I am.

    •  disability and old age (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai

      Yes; I'm not yet a "senior" (though closer than when I moved in 9 years ago! and I'm very aware of the difference -- in fact, my neighbors keep promising me some of the problems will go away within a few years.

      I was struck by this: "I'm finding that there is very little support for disabled people compared fto the elderly even though it seems my position in life vis a vis physical issues, finances, and relative lack of social support mimic them"

      There used to be more disability rights organizing, but it seems the ones who do it have been social services agencies. My SS income is too "high" to qualify for many social services, so none of these agencies would/could help me. There really need to be advocacy groups which aren't primarily employment agencies for social workers, but actual advocates for groups of people ....


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:33:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Check the Farm Bill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    to better understand why such bad food ends up in the food banks, look at the farm bill. Farmers and producers are entitled to sell 'surplus' products, basically what the market rejects, to the government, which then passes it on to schools and food banks.

    Considering the impact of nutrition on health, in particular for children, there should be a separate supply chain in place to support SNAP and most certainly school canteens. This is yet another distortion of the free market, which our conservative friends are telling us will solve all problems.

    Indeed it would if left to respond to true demand. To feed leftover junk, mostly sugar, hydrogenated fats, and sodium to people desperate to eat for survival, is an abomination. The food banks should be allowed to source the kind of product they need to support the populations they are charged to care for. It is not complicated.

  •  It is a sad fact of our society: (3+ / 0-)

    WE do not care about those who are in need, we give lip service to doing the right thing, but seldom do.

    My husband and I currently live on my disability income of just over $1000 per month and about $90 per month in food stamps.  Our diet is not necessarily the best because sometimes I am unable to cook a big meal, but over the years I have learned a few things about nutrition and shopping or cooking that I would like to pass along:

    1.  If you need to have a special diet, learn all you can about it, examine what your personal preferences are and plan your shopping accordingly.  From the sound of the article the author has access to his own food if he needs it.

    2.  Spend time reading all the food ads each week and frame your shopping list around your needs and only the sale items.  This is crucial to keep costs under control.  Use coupons if you have them to supplement your savings (I am terrible at this, but some people are really good at it and if you know someone, have them show you how)

    3.  Stock up on items when they are 10 for $10, are case sale items, or if your store has meat sales where they will cut up large cuts into smaller portions.  Buy bags of frozen chicken breast, and then when you thaw them, cut them in half and use only one half at a time if they are more than 6 oz.  Buy ground beef in family packs or 3-5 lb. tubes, then repackage them into half pound sections - try to get the leanest you can afford, or plan on cooking and draining off the fat.

    4.  Get cheap cuts of roasts, then slow cook them up with vegetables and freeze leftovers in single portion containers for future meals.  We get about 4 meals out of a 1.5 lb. chuck roast.  They taste good, can be low fat and low salt, and filling.

    5.  When shopping in quantities, be sure to create stock-piles of your favorites, as well as plan on large cooking sessions followed by freezing.  You get the best prices this way, have extra on hand, and when a friend is in need, you have something you can share with them.

    These are just a few tips, but they work well, have given my husband and myself about a two month backup for when times are tighter because of medical expenses or access to our store (it is two hours away) is not possible.  It took about a month of careful shopping to build up this back stock, but we both sleep a lot better knowing that when we cannot get to a store we do not have to go hungry, and neither do our friends.

    Rev. Devon J. Noll
    New Word Universal Fellowship Church
    http://www.newworduniversalfellowship.org

  •  Yes, agree. Great diary! You are so right! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, twocrows1023
    Yet too much of what one eats is actually a gift to wealthy corporations: sell us barely edible food, and we will feed it to barely surviving people, expanding profit and relieving our consciences.

    Just don’t expect us to eat that stuff.

    Thank you for writing this. It's not always easy to make this argument well, but you did it very well.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:09:19 PM PST

  •  So sadly true (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, twocrows1023, melo

    Eating healthful foods is not really so expensive as some writers would have us believe, IF you live where you can buy food at farmers' markets and local food co-ops, or buy "shares" of a farm's output, or grow some of  it yourself.    People living in urban food deserts might not  have these options.  But the "nutritionist" planning the free meals is likely buying in bulk and could do a better job of planning meals.  Years ago (late 70s-early 80s), I used to visit an elderly friend in a nursing home in southern CA.  Residents were fed the stuff the author describes.  But I was especially saddened to find that they got no fresh fruit, despite how inexpensive it was.  I used to buy bags of oranges for her for literally pocket change.  We know even more now about the importance of good nutrition.  Proper nutrition can minimize or reverse the effects of many chronic diseases.  It is still cheaper to use local seasonal ingredients and make nutritious meals than to buy the overly processed junk that is used in these meals. Why, then, has this not changed in 30+ years?  

  •  This is why so many "Poor People" are so obese (0+ / 0-)

    I get so sick of the conservative types screaming that we are paying too much into food stamps because so many people on them are fat. The problem is not laziness or overeating, the problem is the cost of all types of healthy foods. This is why there is so much obesity in this country. People are so desperate for hours at work that they don't have the time/energy left for proper exercise. They don't have the time/money to cook healthy food. This causes a serious problem, obesity. When I'm living paycheck to paycheck, I buy the cheapest food I can find at the grocery store, and that guarantees a lot of fat, salt & sugar.

  •  Maybe put out a request for some baby carrots??? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    From the lunch program or other source???

  •  Awesome article (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Cassandra Waites

    My mom lives in assisted living...for the past year. I have been astonished at the amount of salt they put in the food where ALL the elderly surely have issues with salt. Sometimes it's because it starts off as processed foods, and sometimes it is added as part of the chicken base spice that's used to impart flavor to the food. It's sad that our elderly are subject to food that is not nutritious and actually very bad for their health.

    That being said, what do you do about it. Short of quitting your job and attempting to help your elderly parent, it's a very bad place to be. It's hard to deal with.

    •  Worse than salt... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai

      Is the fact that my building is filled with diabetics, and the food is really heavy on simple carbohydrates and sugar.

      Well, maybe not worse; but definitely as bad.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:37:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We are very fortunate, for the most part. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, not a lamb

    My husband is a disabled vet, gets VA benefits and because he is housebound, we applied for and were approved for Aid and Attendance. This is extra money they give so you can hire someone to help care for you at home.  The idea is it is cheaper to give you more money for that then to put you in a nursing home.  Instead, I quit my job cleaning houses, which was getting harder for me anyway because of my wore out knees, and stayed home to care for him myself.  I use the extra money to buy good food that is healthy for him and will keep him on the right diet.  It has helped him alot.  I have had some help from the local church per my comment further up and found quiting work saved me money on gas and such.  I have kept him healthier, out of the hospital except for maybe one short stay a year for a "tune up" as the doctor calls them and kept him off dialysis.  His doctors give me the credit, tell me to keep doing what I am doing.  It is a matter of healthy food, no salt, I make everything from scratch, no processed stuff. I make soup and can them.  He gets fresh fruits and veggies, at most he gets frozen ones, no canned.  He was told he would be on dialysis 5 years ago, at any time.  Anytime hasn't come yet!

  •  It's hard to remove sodium (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    which makes it very painful that the only food you're being supplied is so pointlessly high in it. However, there are some strong indications that the sodium/potassium ratio may count as much or more for net CVD mortality than the simple net sodium intake. And adding potassium is easy. You can buy potassium salt in most supermarkets, and also can get inexpensive potassium supplements. Of course it's better to be getting it from greens etc. but you're already doing everything you can along those lines.

    Good luck!

    Michael Weissman UID 197542

    by docmidwest on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:43:00 PM PST

    •  thanks for the suggestion (0+ / 0-)

      Ironically, when I was hospitalized for chf, the cardio compensated with tons of meds, which (long story somewhere up the comments a ways) ended me up BACK in the hospital a few weeks later with acute renal failure and a 7.3 potassium level.

      So I am currently EXTREMELY suspicious of adding potassium at the moment. If it stays balanced (never had problems with kidneys previously, and they're getting back to normal, I'm told) I will cautiously experiment.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:41:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Allergies of today (0+ / 0-)

    to my misnd, are caused by something that didn't happen much, if at all from about 1947-late 60's and then from the mid-80's on.  Breastfeeding!  At least not breastfeeding as it was done "back in the day" which meant breastfeeding ONLY until at least 6 months and then supplementing "regular foods" with breast milk until age 2+.  I researched this on purpose as my son's father was allergic to the whole world it seemed.  So I went way beyond what most women consider "sufficient for benefits" and he's only got 2 allergies, both of which are the same as I have.  Another thing I discovered and used to his benefit was the Ancient American Native way of having a "milk brother" i.e. I babysit my clan sister's kid and bf both and she does it too as well as the "regular foods" being introduced through the mother having pre-chewed (adds her digestives in her saliva) them and immediately feeding them to the baby in the lap.  Seems to be working for my great nephew too.

    ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

    by Arianna Editrix on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:25:00 PM PST

    •  That very likely is one contributing factor. (0+ / 0-)

      I believe another one is that the changes in our food supply since we switched from the model of buying all our food fresh and local at small markets or growing our own to heavy processing, national supply chains and supermarkets, have effected our bodies at the molecular level. Besides the more large-scale effects--such as heart disease and cancer-- from various toxins and disrupters added to our food, we have experienced many small mutations in our DNA which perhaps have increased our sensitivities. GMOs, in particular, are said to have this effect:

      “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects....Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines [protein molecules involved in immune responses] associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation.”

      – American Academy of Environmental Medicine

      http://earthopensource.org/...

      Increased sensitivity, plus more and more additives to be sensitive to, and round and round the cycle goes.

      •  I was crap at breastfeeding (0+ / 0-)

        I actually have a paradoxical response to oxytocin, it makes me anxious and depressed, so breastfeeding was literally work.  But, I knew it was best for my kids.  And we always put in a garden, which helps fend off the junk in our food I suppose.  I also think that lots of folks who become aware of their food and start eating better get "cured" simply because they aren't eating crap food.

        ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

        by Arianna Editrix on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:54:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  There's a very easy way to make sure healthy is... (4+ / 0-)

    affordable in situations like this...

    Stop serving the unhealthy stuff.

    Which means we need policy dictating low salt meals as the norm. It should be the norm. No one needs high salt and it's always easy to just leave salt available in small paper packets for anyone who really, really wants it.

    It also means requiring fresh fruits and vegetables be served in meals, or if frozen, frozen without preservatives.

    Once these things become policy and have to be the norm, suppliers will adapt or they'll lose the contract to someone who will.

    It would not take spending that much more money per lunch to make them high quality lunches -- and I'm sure the vast majority of the public would want to make sure the kinds of people who would have need of free lunches should get healthy free lunches.

    Otherwise, we're just making them less healthy or sicker and more likely to need to expensive medical treatment down the line, or in the case of kids, make them less likely to thrive at school so they can become more prosperous adults.

    •  You know what I worry about sometimes? (0+ / 0-)

      That the vast majority wouldn't want us to get healthy lunches.

      I read these comments above and am warmed (and sometimes distressed) by so many of them... but then I think about both the President and Congress developing rules which have nothing to do with treating all people as though they have a place at the table.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:47:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I suspect the problem with "that much more money" (0+ / 0-)

      is that the companies paid by the government to produce and deliver the  food are pocketing money that was supposed to go to better-quality food.  How about first we take a good, hard look at the amount of profit they're making, and if it's too high, make them give it back?  I really am resistant to the idea that these companies are doing the best they can with the money they get from the taxpayers.

      During the earlier wars in the 20th century there was a rule that if you made too much profit, you were considered a war profiteer and denounced.  Companies in WW1 and WW2 were literally forced to disgorge a measure of their too-large profits back to the government.  That war-profiteer "tax" punishment fell by the wayside as the military-industrial complex grew in power and they had lawmakers soften then eliminate those laws -- now we laud these companies as excellent profit-makers when they short-change the people they're meant to serve.

      War or no, we need to squash profiteers who rake in too much cash for themselves and make them give it back, much as Obamacare mandates that medical insurance companies have to use 80% of the money they make for actual patient care.

      •  That's a really good idea (0+ / 0-)

        I'm working on a piece about the FDA and its giveaway of a generic drug by turning it into a patented drug and skyrocketing the cost, and comparing that to "war profiteering" makes the shamefulness of that really clear.


        A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

        by kestrel sparhawk on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:37:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thinking back.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo

    ....I cannot help but wonder if most of these sensitivities have been with us for a while.  "Must have been something I ate" has been a common comment after a sudden illness for ages, and there is a century or more-old tradition of women being "frail" (often getting by merely by attracting a well-off husband, which still goes on today).  I must assume there were men who were "frail" as well.  The "frail" sons of wealthy people spent their lives in sanitariums.  Those of humbler birth....who knows?  Some, I assume, just grinned and bore it as best they could.  Some died in the streets.

    I don't mean things like anaphylactic reactions--those are acute and extreme and could not be mistaken for anything but a medical crisis.  But I do wonder if things like chronic fatigue syndrome have been with us all along.  Perhaps our society has evolved to the point where we have the "luxury" of being able to be acknowledged as ill with what to many seem vague symptoms.  There have been plenty of men and women over the years who were sent on "rest cures" for "glandular tuberculosis" or the like.  Some were branded hypochondriacs or "neurasthenics", others with various labels that were almost certainly inaccurate.  But the vast majority of these were people who were well-offi financially.

    Bias remains....for example, it is a given in mainstream medicine that fibromyalgia only occurs in women.  I find it difficult that the causative agent (whatever it may be) turns its nose up at a Y chromosome.  There are plenty of people with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia who are being dismissed as having psychiatric problems.  All the more so since most of the drugs that have brought some relief from symptoms have been antidepressants.

    I have strayed a bit from the topic of food allergies but I think the example holds true.  A set of symptoms with no particular reason for onset which, once acquired, do not seem to ever go away.  They may be vague.  They may be life-threatening.  But at present, as far as the medical community is concerned, they exist in a vacuum, and to some extent, exist only to the extent that the practitioner believes in them.

    A stray observation: by some estimates we live our daily lives in frequent contact with thousands od substances which did not exist 100 years ago.  The human metabolism has no experience with adjusting to them and has not had time to do so.  Can we say with any assurance at all that the virtual chemical bath in which we now dwell does not have any "unintended consequences"?

  •  Well said (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel sparhawk, melo

    The worst part is, many people will call you "ungrateful" instead of working to improve conditions.

    Sadder still is that these companies that profit off of making such garbage continue to thrive.

    I wonder how much of the money given for food programs actually goes to buying food? How much gets siphoned off to executive salaries and other costs?

    As it is, many food pantries have asked people to stop doing canned food drives and instead, contribute money. The reasons are because pick up, storage and distribution of canned food donations is expensive. For the same money you spend on a can of tuna, a food bank can buy better food in greater quantity because they can now buy in bulk.

    No, people just call poor folk "ungrateful" because is it easier to kick a man when he is down then look at our current economic structure and realize that many of the problems of the poor could be resolved if we stopped the upward redistribution of wealth.

  •  Quality of food for the poor community (5+ / 0-)

    Have you ever wondered why poor people are obese?  I have heard so many comments about this view.  The reason is the meals that are available for them is so unhealthy and is really garbage.  I volunteer at a place that serves poor adults over 60 yrs. of age.  They also provide food for people in the community.  All of the food is outdated products from a local grocery store.  When it comes to fresh food, the occupants of the homeless shelter are allowed to come in at 4 pm for fresh fruit.  It is the most disgusting rotten fruits and vegetable the smell is a true turn off.  They are so hungry so they eat the crap.   My point is poor people are obese because they have to eat cheap food that is so unhealthy for them and causes them to become obese.  It really disturbs me.

  •  Food (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    Lost and Found

    I agree that the free food you're getting is very unhealthy.  But since you think that your pre-poverty diet--the one that caused your heat disease-- was healthier than your current diet, it's clear that ignorance is a much bigger problem for you than poverty.  A refrigerator, an oven and $10 a week are all you need for a healthy, nutritious diet.  Follow link to see how.  Everyone has limited choices in life, but ignorance of the choices you have limits you even more.

    http://www.forksoverknives.com/...

    •  "Ignorance" is hardly a persuasive term. (6+ / 0-)

      Not to mention that you completely ignore the primary issues of both classism and disability, which limit cooking for oneself.

      You might consider whether "ignorance" is an appropriate word for someone you disagree with, regardless if the writer (and many of the respondents) have not found the Solution you advocate. Please, if you wish to participate in this discussion -- and you're welcome to -- try for more civility.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 02:06:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It doesn't have to be that way (0+ / 0-)

    if the company hired to supply the meals actually gives a damn about the people it supplies the meals to more than they care about squeezing out the biggest profit they can.

    My mother was physically vigorous but had slight dementia and wasn't allowed to use the stove or oven, so she went out to local restaurants every day for her lunch/dinner (she only ate twice a day as a choice, not because of a lack of funds: breakfast and a mid-afternoon meal.)  She lived in Brooklyn, there were more than a dozen restaurants within a 5 minute walk of her house so she had her choice of all sorts of fine dining or good "diner" type food.  When she hit her 80s and began to get a little fragile, my sister arranged for her to get meals on wheels to cover those days when it snowed or rained out and it wasn't safe for her to go out as she might slip and fall.

    My mother was always very picky about food and knowledgeable about nutrition, and she loved the delivered food so much that she stopped going to restaurants for her afternoon meal, preferring to eat the delivered meal instead.  I visited her once to take her out to dinner, but she insisted on eating her delivered meal anyway "as an appetizer", and insisted on sharing it with me--and as she had stated many times in the past, it was, in fact, delicious.  Slices of real, not processed, turkey, both white meat and dark meat, very moist and delicious; a side of corn and a side of broccoli, not over-cooked, simple but really well-prepared the way a good restaurant would make it.  A little plastic tub of decent applesauce, a fresh piece of fruit (banana this time but sometimes an orange--but a fresh piece of fruit EVERY DAY), and a slice of fresh whole-wheat bread with a pat of butter, which she saved for later to eat in front of the television.  A nice little piece of apple pie that she didn't eat because she was anti-sugar, not because it didn't taste good or was of poor quality.  A little plastic container with dried milk that you had to add water to that she used for her breakfast in the morning.  

    All in all, I was impressed.  Meals on Wheels in Brooklyn delivers actual good food to people.  My mother wasn't kidding when she said she looked forward to her meal every day.

    Delivered meals can and should be of good quality, the only excuse for what you're eating is that someone in the administration gifted a company with an easy-money job: give people who can't complain the barest minimum of edible food and keep the profits for themselves.  More punishing of the powerless, and if you complained, they'd probably shame the crap out of you.

    •  that's an interesting possibility... (0+ / 0-)

      Yours and a couple of other comments have made me decide to run off a copy of this and give it to the Assisted Living coordinator in the building to find out if he knows that the food his organization is providing could be causing heart problems to some of their clients.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:40:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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