A heartbreaking, heart-warming story from Ed Murrieta:
A butcher shared with me the advice his dairy-farmer father fed him:
Stay in the food business and you will always eat.
I’ve worked in the food business for a good chunk of my life — first in my parents’ restaurants, then as a food writer and restaurant critic, followed by post-culinary-school stints as a baker and food-marketing consultant, then again as a restaurant critic, and, until this past fall, as publisher of my own website that promoted restaurants and culinary events.
Today, I eat on the fringe of the food business, hungry for work and living on the dole, one of 6 million Americans whose sole source of income is food stamps.
When I was the restaurant critic at the Tacoma News Tribune, from 2004 to 2008, I enjoyed a $1,300 monthly expense account, on top of the middle-class salary that financed a house overlooking Puget Sound. I gave that up to start my own business, and when my entrepreneurial dream fizzled along with the economy, my food budget — my total income — plunged to $200 a month.
As I search for work without success (I’ve applied for restaurant-critic jobs at alt weeklies in Seattle, San Francisco, Denver; communications jobs with state and city agencies; and jobs as butcher, baker, line cook and carpet cleaner) I find neither shame nor deprivation in food stamps.
“We’re all on food stamps here, hon,” a pierced-lipped barista at a college coffeehouse told me. Continue reading here.