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Dirt Poor: Raw Envy

For any who read this, I am posting for the first time and have the need to briefly expound on my situation.

I live in Dallas, TX and had a brief stint as a raw foodie several years ago, but a change in work environment left me unable to stick to my guns. I since transitioned from a well paying (albeit unsatisfying) job to working at the school where I currently study. While a proponent of Raw Living and fairly knowledgeable, I have lacked the utter determination and motivation to maintain the lifestyle until this very hour. I had a moment of revelation and am ready to turn my life around.

There is only one problem.

I am poor. So, so poor. Starving student poor. And while I try to focus on the positive aspects of my life and think happy thoughts and whatnot (I am not trying to be facetious, I promise.), I am still unable to get around the fact that eating raw in Dallas seems to be increasingly difficult without access to funds.
I do have a few bits and pieces in my cupboard that I can use, but really, I want to go totally raw, no more poison, no more plastics, no more nasty horrible SAD food.
I have about an ounce of Cacao Nibs, maybe 6 ounces of Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, A canister of flax, About 3 ounces of Pau D’Arco, a half ounce of MAtcha Green Tea(all of these 100% raw and organic), and Gallons and gallons of water. That’s about it. And, while nice, it is an awful lot of fat and very little balance for the next two weeks. I have roughly 7 dollars (i’m not joking) to work with for the next two weeks and need some suggestions on the best use of my funds.
For those of you not in Dallas, a bunch(approx. a pound) of kale goes for about $2.50.
Here are the stipulations: I have no issues fasting, but do heavily physical work that requires at least a modicum of nutrtion to support a full workweek. Due to city living (I am right on the edge of Uptown/Highland Park) there is no safe foraging, no dandelions, pecans etc that can be trusted growing outdoors. Trust, I would absolutely love to reap the benefits of nature’s FREE buffet had Dallasites not spewed Hummer fumes all over it. With that in mind, I implore you all for suggestions to help a person who wants to be well, but isn’t set up to do so yet.

Love and sloppy kisses, Antediluvian Jungle



  • elizabethhelizabethh Raw Newbie

    sprouts would be a good choice for you. they cost next to nothing to grow, and are super nutritious. try and get seeds you can sprout from a health food store.
    check out farmers markets in your area (i can’t pinpoint where as i am not from dallas), and talk to the farmers about any excess produce they may have that they may sell to you at really bargain prices. maybe you could even work part-time for a farmer or something in exchange for fresh organic produce? this may not be a feasible option for you, just an idea.
    sorry i don’t have any other tips. best of luck to you, and kudos for your efforts.

  • newbienewbie Raw Newbie

    I was thinking sprouts too. This may not be of interest to you, but a lot of grocery stores throw away produce that may have a bruise or past the expire date. If you would consider dumpster diving, it might prove rewarding (just a thought, since you’re only dealing with the next 2 weeks). Good luck!

  • Thank you both for your posts. I actually have a few bags of sprouting seed I had purchased back when I thought I’d be investing in an EasyGreen Sprouter. I had completely forgotten about their existence until you mentioned them.
    As for the dumpster diving…while desperate times may call for desperate measures, and I am definately all about humbling myself for health, I think I may just graze on the sprouts and fats I have until further notice. Technically it would be 100% raw. I guess after torturing my body long enough, life has found a way to FORCE me into health. This may not be so bad after all. So now for the $7… any supplemental bits to add variety?

  • If you’re paying $2.50 for kale, I’m guessing that you live near a Whole Foods. They put out a lot of free samples on Saturday and the fruit samples seem to get passed over by most people. I also score on free fuit at special school lectures, mostly apples and bananas and ornamental kale. I’ve met students who could have written their dissertations on foraging for free food.

    Everyone is right about sprouts. Sprouted quinoa is good for a lot of energy. Parsley is a little cheaper than other greens, and would be good on some spouts.

  • rawmamarawmama Raw Newbie

    You can speak to the produce managers of the grocery stores and also any farmer’s markets. A lot of them throw away produce that is not perfect, wilting, or has soft spots on it. They might be willing to give you bags of produce that is not good enough for them to keep on their shelves. Also, farmers at farmer’s markets will throw away parts of foods (for example, the greens on cauliflower) and at times will give them to you if you’d ask. Also, weeds, there are lots of weeds out there, but you need to know which ones are edible, but that just means a trip to the library, or since you have internet access, you can look them up online. Heck, dandelion is available all year round, so is grass, as long as it’s not sprayed, you’ll be fine. We pick berries and flowers that grow in the wild, call the local parks office and ask where you might find fruits growing wild that you can pick. I also wonder what your local soup kitchen might have, churches, etc. If you belong to a church, then find someone that has a garden and ask if they might be willing to share some of their produce with you in exchange for you doing weeding for them…then you can eat the weeds too lol! :)

  • omshantiomshanti Raw Newbie

    nothing too new to add to all the dumpster diving advice and farmers market advice, however i know for a fact at the farmers markets here in Cali, there is tons thrown away!!! depressing really, but worth the effort to scavenge… just ask the vendors for the throw aways! there is a gal here at the markets i go to that scavenges for her parrots when she tells people this they are very accomodating! people are always glad to help out others… for the most part…put your self out there and just ask! i think the produce managers @ markets appreciate the asking more than the dumpster diving( its why most are locked out here)...and then you dont have to crawl through the muck and mire to get it!

  • I agree with omshanti. It never hurts. Go the last ten mins before the temporary farmers market close and you’d be surprised what you can get for extremely low prices(flowers and produce) or free(be respectful when you’re asking for the throwaways and tell them your situation).

    Forget about Whole Foods unless you’re strict on organic and it’s for convenience. Have you tried Farmers Market groceries stores? My favorite is Sprouts Farmers Markets (76c for Kale in the Torrance area, yeah baby!!! :))
    There are stores in TX, CA and AZ.

    Also for the future, there are so many options but you have to do the work. You’re a creative person so I know you can do it. For example, 99cents stores (Not organic and extremely limited but extremely cheap), low rate markets. Are there any NGAs (community run gardens) in your area where you can volunteer and get produce for free? If not, why not form a raw food group with people in college, ask for garden space, do P.R, local vendors for help with garden supplies, seeds and ask for tips from agriculture students/farmers to get your own garden running (if this doesn’t work find another way)

    More on being raw on a budget:

  • I have been raw AND on a starving student budget for 17 years. I now eat for about $7 – $15 / day. When i have to go below $7 / day, the best bet for your health is grow wheat! Eat it after one day for carbohydrates. Eat it as wheatgrass juice after growing for 10 days for your overall well being. This diet tastes bad but is like $2 / day and will make you superman if you can do it. The only time i did this was camping at 11,000 ft where survival motivated the hell out of me. I would spend my cash on wheatberries and then take the farmers market advice. lettuce know how it goes!

  • The cheapest thing I can think of is dried beans—yes, it’s cooked food, but you can’t beat the whole food calories you’ll get for each dollar. I’d supplement that with sprouts and dumpstered produce. Don’t get into the cooked food=bad, raw food=good dichotomy—just have your cooked food be cheap, whole foods (I say this because when many “slip up”, they eat things I could never imagine, like nachos with cheese and beef—that’s not what I’m talking about with eating cooked here!).

    And if you live where it’s warm, you can gather wild fruits and veggies (I did this in the city in Minnesota in the summertime) for free.

    I would also check out food shelves, if you look around sometimes you can find local community programs where they give out fruits and veggies.

  • I know your weren’t interested in the dumpster diving, but people who do it and other noncapitalistic activities call themselves freegans. Info at this site – http://www.freegan.info/. They might make it seem more appealing if it comes to that, as well as suggestions and support to live low/no cash. I also agree with cannibalwarrior – food is not “good” or “bad”. Eat what you need to to sustain yourself until better times.

    Good Luck.

  • I live in Dallas too, and it is very expensive to live here.

    Each Wednesday I check the stores I go to for their weekly specials.

    I frequent Sprout’s Farmers Market Grocery Store (Forest & Marsh). They run some pretty good deals weekly. If you shop on Wednesdays you get the previous week deals, plus the current specials. Not a lot of organic, but I can’t afford it most of the time any way!

    Carnival Food Stores is another store I go to each week.I was there yesterday and bought avocados 3 for $1.00, bananas .39 per lb. Cabbage is .25 per lb.

    Kroger also has cabbage for .25 per lb. I shop at the Kroger Signature store on Mockingbird at Greenville. Collards, turnip greens, and mustard greens are .79 a bunch.

    I was in Central Market today and bought a bunch of kale for .99. Also, Central Market sometimes marks down produce they are about to pull. I asked today, and the person that marks it down was off today.

    I agree with the above post about eating some cooked (nutritous) food. You can’t beat the price of dry legumes and grains. There’s always the Dallas staple MEXICAN FOOD! Tortillas, beans (black of course!),and brown rice .

    I see others have recommended Farmer’s Market. That may be an option in other cities, but the Dallas Farmer’s Market is not the best in my opinion. I think it’s expensive. And, you have to drive downtown (fight traffic) to get there!

    As far as dumpster diving for food, I would not recommend that. Do you have family that can help you out temporarily? I’ve started selling some stuff on Ebay and Craig’s List to raise extra money. If your at school at SMU, I’m sure you are broke!

    Hang in there. It will get better. I

  • ZoeZoe Raw Newbie

    I know people who thrive on dumpster diving, and one man who even eats meat from the dumpster and has been for years…hideous I know but you know the things people do to food in restraunts can be hideous too, do you know anyone who has worked in a fast food place?! I used to, I know what goes on, I would prefer fresh produce out of a skip/dumpster over eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    I go to the supermarket at the end of the day when they reduce everything. Ask your local shop when they do that. I get amazing bargains.

  • BluedolfinBluedolfin Raw Newbie

    Since you are in school, check with your financial aide office about getting an emergency loan or other available resources. If they don’t do emergency loans, they can probably refer you to other resources. My best to you.

  • omshantiomshanti Raw Newbie

    wanted to ad: parsly is hugely nutritious and cheap for a green, and if you do go cooked, lentils are cheap as well…my collage diet consisted of collard greens stewed with green beans and a piece of ham hock( that was then) , lentils and rice and free stuff from the krishnas…say are there any temples near you? go for the free vegitarian fare! its fun and you may find a new religion…..

  • BluedolfinBluedolfin Raw Newbie

    Another idea to build on omshanti’s… In San Diego there is “health spa” that used to be associated with Hippocrates (Optimum Health Institute). They have a dinner on Sunday’s for like $3 that is all raw. Not that I think you should fly to San Diego… Look in your area for health spas and see if they have an Intro dinner that is open to the public (that is inexpensive).

  • You all have given me some amazing options, and I was able to scrounge about today and come up with a more than filling variety for this week. I was also able to put some of my unused talents to work and pull in a bit of extra cash to make it happen. (it’s amazing how creative children are about making money, and how quickly we forget after spending a few years doing 9-5) I appreciate everyone’s positivity and help, I feel charged off of reading your comments. I absolutely LOVE this community. And, while Whole Foods does get a bad wrap, and may be a bit pricey, my walking distance one (Highland Park) was absolutley accomodating today. I’ve never felt so SERVICED, I had been a customer for years, and they were eager to help me out ( i used to pick up produce daily, so they sort of know me.) I am soo writing a letter.

    Thank you all so very much, regards.

  • BluedolfinBluedolfin Raw Newbie

    Another idea… Set up with a few friends that you will make them dinner if they buy the food. That way have a dinner with a friend(s). :) Please keep up posted on what you did so others can benefit from your creativity. :)

  • Participate in marathons= free fruit/water. closing farmers markets= cheap produce.

  • I would try dumpster diving. Find the behind grocery stores and see what you can get. I once found an entire case of perfectly ripe papayas BESIDE the dumpster. I didn’t even have to go in. But inside you’ll find a bunch of great stuff too. Freeze what you cant eat and use it in smoothies.

  • Don’t be afraid to dumpster dive! 80% of all the chicken sold in grocery stores has food poisoning when purchased and is cooked out, so there is less food poisoning in the dumpster than the store! Just make sure no meats are touching your greens! and wash your greens! If you eat raw, you already should know your immune system rocks! I LOVE my immune system!!! And yes lentils are cheap, but sprout them! Don’t cook them!! I get sick of sprouted lentils after a while but they are right up there with wheat sprouts for cheap nutrition.

  • Can I like…send you money? Or dried fruit? I feel so bad for you! One thing I used to do was purchase in bulk and label things with the wrong code (only at major markets, never a co-op, although still bad karma), sometimes getting 18.99 items for 4.99 a lb. Also, recycle a few cans and you can earn a piece of fruit in seconds.

  • i generally screw the huge supermarket chains over as much as possible through mislabeling/weighing things incorrectly, switching stickers and dumpster diving. I’m sure i’ll get some negative comments from people on here, but it’s what i do and i’m fine with it. During the summer I shop almost exclusively at the farmer’s market and grow a few things myself. I also get produce from the organic farm that i work at..

    so in general, things i do to save money are:

    dumpster dive
    fuck the large corporations as you wish

    grow it yourself!!
    [sprouts, herbs, edible flowers, baby greens, tea, spices…]

    bulk does save sometimes..
    [tea, spices, nuts/seeds/grains..]

    farmers markets/fruit stands as climate permits

    hate to say it, but sometimes i can’t eat 100% organic.
    i tell myself 100% raw with a few conventional things is better than cooked organic.

    find things you enjoy eating that just happen to be inexpensive.

    Here flax is very cheap so i usually buy a few pounds of it at a time and just grind up what i need as i need it and store the rest in glass mason jars.

    I generally only have to buy sprouting seeds once in a great while as a little really does go a long way. i’ll buy grains once in a while but not often.. i don’t really eat them.

    I rarely buy prepackaged raw food. things like larabars and other yummy things are strictly treats.

    i also tend to eat nuts/seeds/oils very rarely.. they are generally expensive and make me feel heavy. BUT sometimes nuts and seeds still in their shells are cheaper than those already shelled.

    i have a dehydrator but rarely use it, and rarely buy dried foods. If dried fruit is cheap where you are and is free of sugars, oils and sulphurs, and you enjoy eating it, i’d say go for it.

    i refill plastic water jugs [ugh, plastic.. i know.] at the grocery store and it’s about 39 cents to fill a gallon jug. that’s damn cheap!

    i generally shop around a teeny bit for my groceries. i know certain things will be cheaper at certain stores.. and that’s how i make sure to save as much money as i can. i have a few ‘cards’ for the stores so i can get the discounts they offer weekly etc.

    eat seasonally! that’s going to be my ending phrase in this post that ended up being horribly long. sorry guys!

    I hope things work out for you. I could send ya a bag of mixed nuts and a larabar if you’d like! free stuff is cool, you should take up the two offers you just received!

  • It’s good to know I’m not alone, mango woman. <3>

  • Hello all, as the new year progresses, I am further convinced that going raw helps make people more magnanimous. I’m sure that the moderators wouldn’t appreciate me posting my mailing address; however, I am not so foolish to deny other to opportunity to give.
    e-mail me@andrewdarling.com

    Oh, and, my sprouts of Lentil, Mung and Purple Barley are getting gorgeous little tails of nutrition. And (!) I found a local crop of unadulterated dandelion(my favorite) hiding away from the harsh Texas air. 12 more days and we’re in the black. Fortune smiles upon me!

    Thanks for all the positivity, and all the well wishes. Raw foodies ROCK!


  • rawmamarawmama Raw Newbie

    Wish you well, it will all work out and with great information to help you on your way, it’s well worth visiting the site because of all these great people that are open to sharing their wisdom. I’d recommend keeping it honest though, I personally would not like it if people were stealing from me…do unto others, thou shall not steal, and what comes around goes around, etc., etc…. Better to be an honest, starving student than one that’s fed in jail, and that menu is probably not too raw LOL! Good luck on those sprouts, they’re great!

  • How about an internship on a waterfront organic farm? Free food, free room, and small salary.

    Ivy Brand is an organic vegetable farm selling to farmers markets and a year round CSA. We have 7 acres of garden on 120 secluded acres, 1 greenhouse, 5 hoop houses, and are growing. Other residents of the farm include a small flock of laying hens, two sheep and two goats. The farm is located 45 min East of Washington, DC on the Chesapeake Bay and is surrounded by a 3000 acre nature preserve. The farm has a beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay, and a pier available for kayaking. There is a cute historic village and bus line to Annapolis, MD within biking distance.

    Education Opportunity: Work and training involves all aspects of organic vegetable, small fruit, and herb production, including seeding, cultivating, controlling insects/diseases, weeding, harvesting, irrigating, CSA and market preparation, selling at farmers

  • It was mentioned briefly but I wanted to bring it up again… BANANAS!!! Cheap and super good for you! Also SUn SEEDs and Sesame Seeds for your protein! Sounds like things are going well…good Luck!

  • best tip- get a job at a resturant or cafeteria, or make friends with someone who works there! in my broke squatteresque days when i was 16, my friends worked at a resturant and basically brought home whatever vegan stuff they could get theyre hands on. ex- unsatisfactory produce, theyre employee meal,and snacked as much as possible during work. whatever they brought would hold them over till the next shift. and i cant stress this enough… RICE! its so cheap. though not raw, its pure. and it stretches those veggies a long way. good luck kid. ive been there, and its rough.

  • MarichiesaMarichiesa Raw Newbie

    What about Chia seeds??? They are pretty cheap and good for long term energy/nutrition. You could make up some gel/pudding keep in in the fridge and slurp up as needed. Not super exciting I know but didn’t the Mayans? live off chia seeds for ages?

    oooooo…pumpkin seeds too!!!

  • hey I tried emailing you but it was returned to me, have another email? I’d love to share some goods, one hungry kid to another.

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