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Unemployed restaurant critic: ‘I find neither shame nor deprivation in food stamps’

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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.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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