Friday, July 10, 2009


Well, I really had no intention of writing about food again so soon, but then I read Heather's post this morning, over at Beauty That Moves. What a can of worms she opened! She asked her readers to confess how much they spend on food each week, and wondered how so little can cost so much, especially when one is not buying any packaged foods, and is cooking everything from scratch? Instantly, the comments started rolling in, and reading through them just about broke my heart.

We are at the point in our lives where I no longer have to worry about every penny I spend on food, but to hear about what these young mothers must go through to try and feed their families good healthy food, really made me sad. They all asked the same question: must one completely eliminate organic/non-GMO fruits and veggies from one's shopping cart - the most important medicine we have - in order to stick to a budget? It reminded me of the most disturbing thing I saw in the movie Food, Inc. An Hispanic family was in their car, filling up on junk from the dollar menu at a fast food place, while they explained to the interviewer why they couldn't afford to buy fresh fruit or veggies. The father has type 2 diabetes, and they must spend several hundred dollars a month on his medications. That doesn't leave much for food. So they have a choice. They can spend $5 to buy a bag of greens and an apple or two, which would leave them all feeling hungry, or they can fill up from the dollar menu. How sad is that, since the dollar menu is what gave him the diabetes in the first place, and is probably going to kill him?

I felt compelled to leave a comment myself: As everyone else has said, I don't know any way you can reduce your food bill and still eat healthy produce, other than growing more of it yourself. I was fortunate enough to help start something wonderful here in the Texas Hill Country, called The Bountiful Sprout, a member-owned and operated food buying community dedicated to making sustainably and locally grown or produced foods and staples more readily available. We let the producers set their own prices, list what they have for sale on our website, members shop from the comfort of their homes, and come to our local pick-up spot every other Wednesday to retrieve their booty. We've virtually cut out all the middlemen. So why aren't members buying more, and why is the food still so expensive?

Well, because raising free range chickens and grass fed pork costs a lot more than the way Tyson does it, where their average producer carries half a million in debt, trying to meet their standards for equipment, etc., but only earns $18,000 per year, and the conditions of the animals would make you vomit. Then there are the government subsidies that go, not to the independent growers of sustainable foods, but to the humongous agribusinesses, encouraging them to grow nothing but corn and soy, which in turn becomes high fructose corn syrup and other things that end up on the dollar menus, making the food artificially cheap. So, I don't know what the answer is, other than, as I said, growing your own.

Oh yeah, and doing whatever you can to convince the government to change the way they dole out subsidies would be a very good thing, too. Denmark is light-years ahead of the US when it comes to sustainable living, and one of the first things they did, decades ago, was to start subsidizing the organic farmers, to bring down the cost of the food, thus improving the nation's health and the environment, and thereby lowering medical and pharmaceutical expenses. It would appear to be a no-brainer, but then, I guess that's what we have in our legislature - a bunch of no-brainers.

P.S. Did you see that survey that came out a while back, about which countries had the happiest people on earth? Know which was #1? You guessed it, Denmark! Where was the U.S.? You don't even wanna know. It's all about priorities, people!

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