Tips for shopping for organic/whole foods while poor from an actual poor person

Food accessibility, Reproductive Justice, Uncategorized

**Originally posted 8 years ago on my very first blog Natural In A SNAP (anything written in blue I added today

So I am writing this blog because once upon a time not long ago I set off on a personal journey I am still on to try to eat and live healthier. When I began my journey I did what many of us do and hit up Google hoping to find some great advice about shopping, cooking, and living organic on the cheap, especially if you were like me a family on food stamps. What I found was a few helpful sites and very few articles that addressed people eating organic on a food stamp budget and those that did were written by well meaning people who were “experimenting:” with cash budgets in the amount that a family their size would receive if they were on food stamps (the SNAP challenge). That’s cool but what does that do for me?
A person who really is living day to day with an EBT card trying to live a sustainable healthy lifestyle with a large family and a job. It did nothing but make for interesting reading since most of these people had advantages that the average family on food stamps don’t have i,e, one person at home all day and or advance cooking skills and fancy cookware. So I have decided to write my advice on how to do organic/whole foods on a budget. DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be an expert or have special knowledge really I’m just speaking from my experience. 

1) Price compare and use coupons– as much as I love my local co-op especially since I work there, many national chains now have their own lines of organics, such as Kroger, Aldi, which are not as much of a drain on the budget example my regular black beans cost $.69 Kroger organics $.99 I can spare the $.30 vs $.60 or more elsewhere. Same with soy milk and other items. You can also save using online retailers like Vitacost which often have great BOGO offers on food items and offers free shipping for orders over $45. I often use them for dried fruit when it’s on sale using my cash food budget. Most of us on SNAP still spend cash on food. Coupons are often hard to find on organic products, however many companies have printable coupons on their websites if you register with them. Also this site has a great alphabetical list of printable coupons including organic/whole food brands (I realize that this assumes one has access to a computer and internet which many SNAP families do not).

2)Make a menu and actually use it– this one takes work for me but it does save you money because you don’t waste by buying on impulse and you can maximize sales.

3)Keep it simple smarties-  There are simple meals with simple ingredients  that are healthy, and can be made with low cost organic items. Thank goodness for beans and cous cous with veggies (I’ll get some recipes for ya’ll) So find stuff you can make with a steady supply of staples that you can keep on hand. Stir fry,

4)Start Cooking and cut those potion sizes– If you want to buy higher cost higher quality food that usually means replacing the convenience foods and cheap unhealthy foods which generally requires more cooking and a little more time, but with a little planning it can be done.  I try to cook and freeze on my days off (a huge pot of chili takes just as much work as a smaller one) it is a very old trick of busy moms and you don’t even need containers you would be surprised how many things you can freeze/refrigerate in storage bags, including soups. Another way to save by cooking is to make your own items from hummus to applesauce there are many things that take little effort but have a great financial payoff.  It takes some prep. I myself being the slacker I am often cut up veggies while watching T.V. on my folding T.V. tray. So I can relax and get some stuff done. Also cut your portion sizes if you are not already watching them most of us being Americans eat too much and make too much food that we end up throwing away. (2018 Laurie says eat as much as you want just don’t be wasteful) So recognize if you have this habit and STOP it will save you money and help your health. Extra protip-if you see a bread maker at a thrift store grab it you can save a lot of money making bread at home with minimal effort but I would never pay full price for one. If you can’t do any of these things it’s fine there are frozen veggies and lower cost versions of healthier convenience faves at places like Aldi. These are suggestions not the holy grail. 

5)Make it yourself/Grow it yourself-I did say live organic too, right, meaning cleaning products and such and since we are talking about cooking,  you can make many of your own cleaners too. I make my own laundry soap, and use liquid castile soap that I buy in bulk to clean almost everything.  They are environmentally friendly, I use less, and in the case of the laundry soap I save money. Also it is awesome to have a home that is mostly free of chemicals. The money I save on cleaners goes into the fruit and veggie budget.
My newest endeavor this year is container and raised bed gardening at my house (which I rent). Basically it is gardening with limited space for your own use. The awesome thing is my kids LOVE the idea and it will save a good amount of money especially on tomatoes. Other good news about gardening on a food stamp budget is that you can actually purchase seeds with food stamps as long as they are food seeds this includes organic seeds (yippie!!!). I will be blogging about this more in depth soon.

6)Eat less meat– check my other blogpost for why eating less meat is a good idea, but it also saves money meat is expensive and not required for every meal or everyday, I’m not saying you have to become a vegan, we are flexitarians, just find some good recipes for other protein sources like beans and meat alternatives like tofu, seitan, and TVP, my kids love it!

7)Buy in bulk– If you are lucky you have a local whole food co-op or other grocery that has a well stocked bulk department, I save a good deal of money by shopping in the bulk department for flour, salt, sugar and other stables because the per pound price is considerably lower (if you don’t have one in your town and you buy some food with cash consider using cash and pricing these items online). Also at our co-op if you order by the case you get 15% off so I usually budget to order our brown rice every 3 months by the 50 lb bag. With the discount the price is equal to non organic brown rice. Similar deals can often be found on Amazon using their scheduled shipping service subscribe and save (this requires using cash not SNAP).

8)Befriend your local produce manager and farmer market merchant– when people know you they are more likely to make a deal with you so at every store I shop at I know the produce manager BY NAME why you may ask because he/she marks down produce and produce is expensive and will generally let you know when sales are coming and when they are going to mark stuff.
As for farmers market merchants they need to move their items so I am always open to buying slightly bruised/over ripe items, for a significant discount. Many merchants will also discount items at the end of the day so they don’t have to haul them home. Being able to negotiate is a huge plus. *Hint-many farmers markets now take food stamps too* (Caution-not everything sold at farmers markets are local be sure to ask!) In Mississippi we now have the Fresh Savings program which gives tokens when a SNAP user purchases $10 of fresh produce at Kroger or the Farmer’s Market. Tokens can be used at future purchases. 

9)If you can, get a freezer– when I find good deals on peaches, (I live in MS and at certain times can buy whole boxes for $10) we eat and use some and then I cut up and freeze the rest. Same with bell peppers, onions, blueberries, and many other freezable fruits and veggies. This way my good buy doesn’t go to waste, I know where the veggies came from and I have saved over prepackaged frozen. (sidenote: local doesn’t mean organic it is up to you to ask if the farmer uses organic gardening practices.)

10) Sometimes you will have to compromise-Now this one is tough for me because it means I have to compromise but living while broke is full of compromise and that’s ok- figure out what you can live with buying non organic, lets face it there will always be times when the budget just will not allow you to make a healthy balanced diet and keep it all organic or even really healthy, especially if you have a family my size, so make a list of the items that are must have for you, for me its produce first and then grain, especially those that have been ranked as having the most pesticide residue such as apples, carrots, lettuce, and celery. My family eats quite a bit of fruits and veggies so this is important for us and it is pretty much non negotiable.
So those are on my top ten.
I hope someone reads this and actually finds it useful if not I am having a great time rambling on and working on my writing skills 🙂  Please remember I am still on this healthy journey myself so I am just trying to share my experiences. Peace, blessings, and good health!!!!
Check out these articles too-

I Almost died Due To A Catholic Hospital Practicing “Fetal Personhood”

Abortion, Reproductive Justice, Uncategorized

**I originally posted this on my former blog the intelligent statistic speaks  I have edited it for clarity since it is some of my early writing.

*Note-I was motivated to write this in 2011 due to the upcoming ballot initiative to add a “fetal personhood” amendment to the Mississippi constitution. It was the first time I shared my story publicly. I started sharing it again the next year because it applied to HB 1196 the “heartbeat bill“. That bill had been killed but Rep.Andy Gipson stuck modified language in SB-2771 “Katie’s law” a child murder bill, (which led to the bill failing to pass). Although there is was exception for “life” of the mother my situation wasn’t considered life threatening  emergency until it was almost too late – MEDICINE SHOULD NOT BE PRACTICED BY LAWMAKERS AND RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS WRITING LAWS*

In the recesses of my mind there are so many experiences that make it impossible for me to support fetal personhood and abortion bans. No one ever thinks that one day they will be sitting down to tell the story of how they almost died due to being denied an abortion during a miscarriage. These are the stories you stuff deep in your soul and keep to yourself. Yet I feel every story like mine has to be told so that the lies of how the thinking behind personhood won’t hurt any women and will only save “babies” can be exposed.

I was 18 years old, a wife, a mother of beautiful twin girls. I was also solidly anti choice. During the 12-13th week of my second pregnancy I awoke in the middle of the night to the feeling of wetness between my thighs. A quick inspection found a pink discharge. So I rushed to the hospital ER.  After being given a once over I was told to go home, rest and return if I began to bleed. “You may be having a miscarriage but you aren’t right now” they said.

By mid morning I was bleeding; heavily. This time they gave me an ultrasound. They let me know I was indeed having a miscarriage. I was informed the fetus had not developed normally. The embryo had actually stopped growing at 8-9 weeks, but since they detected a faint heartbeat and this was a Catholic hospital they could not do a D&C (*cough* abortion). There policy is NO ABORTIONS. I was again instructed to go home, rest and wait. At this point I, an uninsured low wage worker had made 2 visits to the ER and could see the bills piling up.

Within a few hours of returning home I was experiencing bad cramping, passing big blood clots and bleeding so heavily that I took my young daughters diapers to catch the blood, a normal pad was not enough. I was afraid if I went back to the hospital they weren’t going to do anything. Frankly, we didn’t have the money for another fruitless visit. When you have basically been patted on the head and told to go home twice it’s easy to feel that way. So I carried on with my day as normal. I was sitting on the phone with a friend at my mother’s apartment next door when I fell out of my chair and passed out. All can remember the feeling of the cold floor and my husband’s voice saying “oh my God wake up” while my grandmother yelled “call an ambulance”. By the time the ambulance arrived I was going into shock and my veins were collapsing making starting an IV hard. I was in and out of consciousness on the ride to the hospital. At that moment I had no idea how much blood I had lost or that I was really close to death. I was well aware by the time we arrived at the hospital. I could feel it and the reactions of staff confirmed it.

It took five tries to start another IV line for the blood transfusion I was now in need of, in fact the doctor had to come and do it. My most vivid memory is of my family doctor (a former Ob/Gyn), who was now working his ER shift, yelling in the hall “WHO THE FUCK SENT HER HOME! She could have died!” After they stabilized me a bit I was rushed to emergency surgery for a D&C (abortion they just call it by another name so you feel better) to remove any remaining tissue from my body and stop me from continuing to bleed uncontrollably. It was to be performed by the same Ob/Gyn who had sent me home, twice.

As I was about to be put under I said to the anesthesiologist “please don’t let him kill me”. All I wanted in that moment was to get home to my little twin girls. After surgery I was placed on the maternity floor. The nurse on duty found me crying and said “don’t worry, you’re young you can have more”. Not only was there no compassion for my experience but no acknowledgment that I had just avoided death. After a day in the hospital and almost a week off work my life slowly returned to normal. What angers me is it didn’t have to be like that.

Luckily sometime while I was bleeding to death at home that day I passed the embryo. I often wonder what would have happened if I had not. Would they have even have saved my life or would they have let me die due to a non viable “person” inside of me? Never once did this hospital tell me I could go somewhere else, somewhere non-religious, somewhere that didn’t believe fetuses are people and abortion is murder. They cared more about a 13 week non progressing embryo than me, a living breathing woman. A wife, mother, daughter, and granddaughter and most important a PERSON! A woman who went on to “choose life” 5 more times. Somehow I was not part of the equation only my pregnancy was. To them I lost my rights when I became pregnant apparently even my right to quality healthcare.

I hadn’t thought much about that day until recently because people keep saying that initiative 26 aka the personhood bill will not change the way women are treated by their doctors. My experience with a hospital governed by the same beliefs that this bill is based on says otherwise and I am not alone and studies prove it. I’ll never understand what made a nonviable pregnancy that could not be saved more worthy than living breathing thinking ME. My life should have mattered. My children needing a mother should have mattered. My future should have mattered.

 I think about the consequences for women and their access to birth control. Young women like my daughter who isn’t on birth control to prevent pregnancy but because she has PMDD which causes such profound mood swings before her period we call it “hell week”. Women who like me have fibroids, which led to my hysterectomy, but the first line of treatment often is birth control pills. Women trapped in abusive relationships who use birth control to gain back control of their lives so they are not trapped in their relationship forever. Just some facts women who are in domestic violence relationships are very likely to have birth control sabotage be apart of their abusers arsenal of control. Abusers know that a woman is less likely to leave if pregnant and even if she does he will have access to her for the next eighteen years of her life through her child. Women who just don’t want to have children, ever and that’s ok. All the trans* and non gender conforming people who need access. The families who want to space and control their fertility.

I wonder why when I talk to people about 26 women no matter if they agree or not seem willing to listen but men are angry and loud in their opposition to women having abortion as an option or saying that our bodies matter. I have heard many comments about women needing to live with the consequences of their actions. Even going so far as to declare pregnancies that happen due to rape or incest acts of God that women should be made to suffer through because it’s God’s will. There is a language of divine intervention and women knowing their places as baby carriers. No one should be made to gestate unless they want to regardless of how their pregnancy occurred.

If you pause to think about it it’s a scary thought. It made me think about the “personhood” movement as a whole and how I don’t believe that the consequences to reproductive choices outside of abortion are an accident or collateral damage. It is by design. Women with choices is a scary concept to many people especially cis hetero men. Not being able to shame women through evidence of our sexual behavior doesn’t make them very happy either. When you take away abortion, birth control, and access to IVF many of the things that the people behind “personhood” dislike the most can no longer happen. Women will NOT have control over their reproductive choices. the last option, condom use, will be primarily in the hands of men.

History should tell use how well that works. Same sex couples, trans and single people will not be able to use IVF to create a family outside of conservative religious norms. People will not be able to avoid stigma or shame brought on by unplanned pregnancy and have healthier sex lives (especially teens).

No I don’t think it is an accident that this amendment will have the power to do many things that the conservative movement wants to do. Initiative 26 essentially has the power to turn back the clock on reproductive choices for ALL families. I can’t help but think……….. how 1950s of them.

Fat Shaming is Real and Harmful


Originally posted 7/21/13 on my former blog

Today something happened to me that rarely does-something on social media triggered memories and made me cry. I had just woke up and opened my Facebook page and there it was a picture of a plus size women in a club with the caption “this bitch killed my vibe”.  It was on a close friend’s page so I posted several comments asking what it was this woman had done that was so offensive that she needed to be publicly shamed on the web. Eventually my friend posted that she had hit on him while he was with his girlfriend (oh the horror). I then asked did he post the pictures of skinny women who hit on him in clubs too. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get a response. I decided to flip though a few more of his pics and there was a picture of a older chubby woman sitting alone eating at Raising Cane’s (it’s a chicken fingers place) the caption read “this is what I had to see at lunch”. That picture and caption made me angry and it made me cry.

outside the state capitol -FABULOUS
2006 Miss Phi Beta Sigma Pageant at JSU-GORGEOUS!

I am a plus size woman. I am not ashamed or embarrassed by my size. In fact I wrote a column about this very kind of thing. I just didn’t expect to see it from a close friend. While I am confident in who I am it doesn’t stop the days when people say cruel and nasty things about my weight. The attacks come from strangers, family, friends, co-workers, and health care professionals.

Like the ER doctor who needed to give me a pelvic exam. I was in severe pain and he had already treated me like I was drug seeking because hey I’m young, black and have medicaid. He told me “I think you might be too heavy for that gurney and make it tip. Can you scoot down and see”. When I-naked from the waist down covered in a sheet-did scoot down and it tipped he shouted into the hall “Yeah she’s too big we need the OTHER gurney.” To this day I don’t understand why he couldn’t just get the other one to begin with. Oh wait because I’m fat therefore less than human. I heard him from the hall shortly after the nurse asked “what’s up with room 4” his reply “oh Roberts there’s nothing wrong with her I’m just waiting for her tests so I can send her home.” He had decided when he saw me there was nothing wrong with me. He did however take time to lecture me about my weight.

So I expect maybe people can understand why when I see people fat shame on social media often I recognize myself in those posts. Sometimes I see the people I love.

Mum and I-Dynamic Duo

See I am the child of larger woman. When I talk about fat shaming I don’t only speak from a place of my own pain I speak from a place of watching strangers be unspeakably cruel to my mother for my entire life. Not only was I teased about my mother’s weight but we were constantly stared at in public. There were always comments, gestures and general rudeness. There were the people who thought they meant well “you have such a pretty face it’s a shame you’re so fat“. Then there were the people who were just cruel “who got her pregnant?”. There were the racists “of course she has a black kid who else would want her“. You know because as a white woman she must have been cast off to a lesser black man since she’s fat. There were the people who thought my mom ate my food and that’s why I was thin.  So much so they openly accused her of child neglect. Oh and the people with no boundaries at all who would take things out of her cart at the store and say “you don’t need that”.

None of those people bothered to get to know my mother. They didn’t find out that she was a great person who read to me everyday, took me to the library every week, sewed her own clothes, is a professional level seamstress, that she has a beautiful singing voice or any of the other things that makes her a awesome person. They just saw her size and deemed her unworthy to exist in their space (I am still scratching my head on this concept). She was automatically less than they were in their eyes.

Now I’m a mother of seven children, six of them girls. I cringe every time my daughter who is a size 8 says she is getting “fat”. Every time some one tells one of my girls they are “too big”. When my 10 year old uttered the words “I think I need to go on a diet” it crushed my heart-she is thin and absolutely beautiful. When asked why she said “because dieting is healthy”. Super double facepalm mommy fail on the-healthy eating is healthy-NOT dieting.  I want them to know and understand they are all beautiful active young healthy women. Their bodies are perfect the way they are.

It all takes me back to the first time I drank Slim Fast because I felt I needed to lose weight when I was 7. The first time I counted calories when I was nine. The big one is first time I started not eating and throwing up my food to help control my weight at 12. At 12 I was a figure skater and figure skaters can’t be fat.

4th place in skating competition-age 13

So  I worked really hard at not being fat. I also spent a lot of time hating my body. Worrying that I would get fat like my mom because then I would lose the freedom that comes from not being fat. All that got me was mentally and physically ill. I hide my self hate and my activities. My mother doesn’t even know now I use to purge that’s how secretive I was. That beautiful girl in the above picture felt fat and ugly everyday. I wish I could reach back and tell her that her body was fine. That this is how a society obsessed with fat shaming and thinness makes young women feel.

For my daughters and my son I fight fat shaming. I do it for them because I do not want them to live with the pain of self hate or miss the company of wonderful people due to size bias. Clearly body shaming doesn’t only affect women yet it is harsher on women so for me it’s a huge feminist issue. How am I a free person when I can’t dress how I wish and freely go about my life without being the target of hate and contempt?

My challenge- the challenge for all of us is to ask why we feel the need to judge the appearance of others. What inside of us makes us so contemptuous of other people’s bodies? We need not kid ourselves that it is about fat people’s health because not all fat people are unhealthy. If it were about health people would harass others for a whole host of unhealthy behaviors-for the most part we don’t. Let’s stop acting like it’s about what is morally/socially acceptable as far as fashion. Since if I put two pics up of women in the same revealing outfit one thin-one plus size, the thin one may be slut shamed the plus size one will absolutely be body shamed and slut shamed. The outfit will be deemed absolutely indecent for one not for the amount of flesh showing but the amount of fat flesh showing. Here in lies the problem. Who are any of us to say things like “no one wants to see that”-someone does. Lastly, I am FAT if you have a problem with that YOU deal with it- I’m fine.

Dear Former Clinic Escort,


Not only am I a former escort-I’m the mother of a teen who had an abortion, an abortion funder and an abortion doula.

I NEVER “grabbed” patients or even walked with them without asking them if it was ok first.
Not only have I been in the waiting room but many of the patients at the clinic I use to escort at arrived early and would sit outside and talk to us before and sometimes after their procedures. So yes many of us know why they are there and it’s no ones business but their own.
Yes I’ve been in the counseling room (which is done as a group at the clinic I was at before talking to the doctor alone). I listened to the counselor and doctor answer EVERY question from every patient with FACTS. Every patient was offered information packets about all of their options and told all of their options. The doctor talked to my daughter by herself to make sure I wasn’t forcing her to get the procedure. Then he spoke to us both to answer questions.
My daughter said the doctor asked her was she sure she wanted to have the procedure before he began. He also talked her through the entire surgery and when she was briefly in pain the nurse wiped her tears while holding her hand and helping her take relaxing breathes. No screams of pain or over the top drama.
Yes I’ve been in the room for a 2nd trimester abortion. Yes I heard the machine yes I saw the abortion and no I’m not horrified. I am glad I was able to support the woman who needed me to be her doula that day.
I have also sat in the recover room and helped women talk through their emotions of relief and sometimes a bit of grief (all valid).

As an escort I talked to a few women who changed their minds after coming to the clinic and I gave them referrals for support. I didn’t mourn them not having a procedure as a reproductive justice activist I want to do everything possible to support that decision and her right to parent.

As someone in my community who is known to support abortion rights I regularly have women tell me their abortion stories years after their procedure. Sometimes as many as 20 years later because they’ve felt they never had anyone they could talk to. They all pretty much echo the same thing. They don’t feel they made the wrong choice but they have felt judged and shamed by people’s views about abortions. Like the other escort said many don’t talk to family thinking they will react like protesters. So they carry a secret that shouldn’t be shameful.

So I agree with the author GO FUCK YOURSELF! Quickly and with efficiency!

See it seems that the author of this ‘letter’ has escorts confused with antis. We who have and do escort do it so people can receive healthcare without being harassed. We don’t have an agenda to push regarding what choice patients make that’s an anti thing. I know for me I just want patients to have a supportive non judgmental fact based space to do it.

Sidewalk shamers don’t provide that.


Blogmaster’s Note: This’ll be a long one, but worth it.  Also, if you come up with some some anti-choice argument BS, have your shit recent and accurate, or you WILL be shown the door.

Wow, when this piece of dreck popped up in a private FB group for escorts, it was universally panned.  I don’t tend to link to the sentient bullshit machine that is LifeSiteNews, but for this opportunity, I made an exception.  So I clicked and read this oh so special letter to us Clinic Escorts.

And the moment the page load, I’m assaulted by an autoplay pledge plea (I know I have Flashblock, so what the fuck?) of two twin douchebags who I’d never heard of, one of which introduces them as “I’m David Benham and this is my twin sister Jason.”

Mmm-mmm, that’s some tasty transphobic humor right there.

Anyway, they apparently lost some house-flipping…

View original post 2,488 more words

Welcome To My New Blog


Warning: This Blogger Writes While Black, Smart & Poor-Sarcasm & Sharp Critique Of Oppression Expected

Welcome to my new blog! I hope to post far more regular content on here than I did on my previous blog The Intelligent Statistic Speaks (I’ll be reposting some of the posts from there). Let me introduce myself I’m Laurie I go by the smartstatisic. I’m a black, queer, disabled, feminist activist, writer, doula and low income mother of seven living in Mississippi. I do several other things if you hang out here I’m sure I’ll write about them.

The point of this blog is pretty simple. It’s me commenting about the world using a black feminist reproductive justice lens. You probably won’t like my blog if you’re a TERF (Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist), if you think intersectionality is too much work, if you don’t like talking about classism and if you don’t like talking about racism or oppression. I write about those things A LOT. I also write about the “a word” often; abortion, abortion, ABORTION! I’m not scared of it or ashamed. So if you are this isn’t the blog for you. If you’re squeamish about sex and sexuality you might want to leave now as well. On this blog unlike my old one I will be exploring sexual topics a lot more. Basically if it’s a topic that can be considered a feminist or reproductive justice issue I will likely write about it.

If none of those things bother you, in fact if they are your kinda of thing and you’re not adverse to the word fuck (I almost forgot to add I curse often and creatively) please join me!