Friday, November 16, 2012

Semi-crunchy, Organic, and WIC do not mix.

My family is broke. Not poor - broke. There is a difference. While many welfare families don't have an exit plan, we're simply passing through the land of WIC, EBT, DSHS, and other government-assisted-acronyms.

That said, it is very difficult to be (as I like to call it) semi-crunchy in this patch of our lives. You know what I mean by "crunchy"... The woman who wears clothes made of hemp, she buys cloth-organic-cotton-hemp diapers, never cuts her hair, only uses patchouli and pig-fat shampoo, and heaven forbid she eat a vegetable that wasn't locally and organically harvested! 
^This woman is suuuuper crunchy!

Well, I like to consider myself semi-crunchy. We buy clothes where they're cheap (perhaps a battle for later in life), I used to make my own baby food (now she just eats what we eat), and we bathe regularly with products from the supermarket. But when it comes to food, I check ingredients (nothing I can't pronounce!), I prefer organic food, and sometimes I even ask the deli counter worker where/how the meat was raised (spoiler alert: they don't know.)

The problem is, being on government food programs means adhering to their rules. And their rules, as we all know, can be a bit asinine sometimes...

WIC is a program that's supposed to supplement my grocery shopping. It provides milk, eggs, cheese, cereal, peanut butter, produce, and juice every month. However, the program is extreeeemely restrictive on what kind and how much of each of these things. I get roughly nine hundred gallons of milk, a pound of cheese, a dozen eggs, enough peanut butter and lentils to last me through the decade, and (not an exaggeration) 16 dollars of produce.

WIC Checks: 

(Each check is different, this is my favorite one)

Ok, it could be argued that I shouldn't be complaning at all because it's free help, but come on!!
1. Produce: How much produce can you buy for $16? I'll tell you: about a week's worth if you're trying to eat healthy.

Total cost of this picture according to the gov't: 2 quadrillion dollars.
Actual cost [probably]: $20 at a farmer's market

2. Carbs: We could have just bread, cereal, lentils, and rice for every single meal if we actually bought it all.
What are the apple, kale, and orange doing in there??

3. Eggs: One dozen eggs a month? Seriously? That's 0.4 eggs a day. I don't know when the last time you tried to eat 0.4 eggs, but apparently someone in D.C. thought it was a good idea!
    Bonus: WIC checks don't allow you to buy the organic, cage-free eggs (or milk for that matter). So now I feel guilty.
"Large" white eggs. In styrofoam. Mmmmm-mm!

4. Cereal: You can have plain Chex, Kix, Life, or Cheerios. But it has to be between 10 and 32 oz. And it can't be the off-brand. And it can't be reduced sugar. And it can't be in a new package color. Okay, I'm not serious about the color but the rest of it is enough to make me wanna rip my hair out!! There are MUCH more healthy cereals than those. Every one of them contains sugar, corn syrup, malodextrin, and heaps of preservatives.
These are my choices. Gluten-free means healthy, right?

5. Milk: Apparently the government wants us to drink milk with every meal, with snacks, and mixed into our meals. I mean, we're practically bathing in the stuff. Seriously, one check says "Two gallons whole milk. One half gallon whole milk. One quart whole milk." AND THAT'S IT FOR THAT CHECK!! But of course it can't be the organic stuff.
This isn't the grocery store, it's my fridge after WIC check day.

6. Meat: What's meat? Is that like a new kind of bread?

EBT cards are really great. They work like a debit card, and are loaded with a pre-determined amount of money every month. They buy everything except pre-cooked food (like rotisserie chicken or sub sandwiches). What's weird is that my friend and her husband get $300/mo, while we (me [pregnant] + hubs + daughter) get $180. But whatever.
I do, however, have a problem with the availability of natural markets that accept EBT cards. I haven't done any research on this topic, so I have no idea as to why this is the case. But I would really prefer to support local mom-and-pop butchers/health food stores than Safeway or Fred Meyer. But they certainly don't make it easy.

I guess my point is: I know organic is expensive. But it's important! And, you're giving me the money anyway, let me make the decisions as to what is best nutritionally for my family.

1 comment:

  1. Comment from another site:
    [The author] should know she can grow, make, cultivate her own veggies (even in the house!) or participate in community gardens ... or start one on a very small patch of ground. Grow potatoes in a barrel for the winter. Tomatoes with a grow lamp (come on.. people do it all the time for pot!) Make her own healthy cereal with oatmeal, raisins, etc. We did it without any govt. assistance. A different time, you may say. Poor people have been with us from the beginning of time .... way before the WIC program came along. Temporary assistance is called for ... but too many stretch the assistance out until their children are grown up ... and on their own assistance programs. I've been .. poor! You can be reliant on nobody but yourselves for bread, milk, eggs, cereal and veggies! Think about the extra items we spend our $$$ on .. purchase because of the convenience or fun those items add to our lives. Soul searching as to how much govt. assistance each of us really need or selectively seek. Families help each other when the need arises.