This may be the most controversial post I ever write. So get ready. You may be a little shocked and hate me at what I have to say here- but of course, I hope you don't!
Today I'm going to talk food ethics and budgeting and how it pertains to me.
Last week I read an article on Time.com about the "real cost of cheap food" and it really hit home with me. In a huge way. I haven't been able to see the movie Food, Inc. even though I am really looking forward to that coming out on DVD- I hope they do soon! Or at least put it On Demand (cable companies.. I hope you are reading this!) I have a genuine interest in the way our food is produced. I think it's a crazy process and sometimes I think it's all a big government conspiracy- and in fact, if you read the article or have seen Food, Inc. you might be agreeing with me right now.
Here's what I agree with in the article:
1. At a time when the nation is close to a civil war over health-care reform, obesity adds $147 billion a year to our doctor bills.
2. Sustainable food is also pricier than conventional food and harder to find.
3. As the developing world grows richer, hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy — demand for meat and poultry worldwide is set to rise 25% by 2015 — but the earth can no longer deliver. Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow and consume food, they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs — and bland taste. Sustainable food has an élitist reputation, but each of us depends on the soil, animals and plants — and as every farmer knows, if you don't take care of your land, it can't take care of you.
4. Farmers aren't the enemy — and they deserve real help. We've transformed the essential human profession — growing food — into an industry like any other.
5. Organic food continues to cost on average several times more than its conventional counterparts, and no one goes to farmers' markets for bargains.
Erin from I Walk In This World posted up her thoughts about this article. I agreed with everything she said including her "rebuttal" of the comment I left. Here's where we are getting shifty people.. This is the comment I posted- I read this article when it came out online last week (I think) and I absolutely agree with EVERY POINT made in the article! Especially- the last one- price is the factor. While I admit to buying the occasional sugary sweet snack, i tend to stock up on produce and meat and potatoes to make the meals around my house. Feeding four (4) people on 175-200 dollars a month (thats how much my food budget is people.. scary) is a daunting daunting thing. how often do i eat cereal for dinner because i dont “feel” like cooking? actually its more like because thats all i have left at the end of the week and i would rather let the kids or the hubz eat the good food. I buy meat on sale- cheapest i can find. i feel like sh*t morally for doing it, but until the food prices go down, i do what i can to get through. until they find a way to make organic, farm raised meat and organic produce as cheap as any other kind.. i have to buy what i can afford.
its a great article, and i really wish i could do more to support the cause, until then! i dream! lol
And here is what Erin said in response: A@ Please Don’t Eat Me - instead of buying discounted factory farm meat on your budget, you could easily substitute cost-effective vegetarian dishes full of beans, brown rice, and frozen veggies.
We do this in my house all the time.
Please don’t let your budget be the reason to excuse your choices. I live on a budget too. And we have VASTLY cut down on our meat consumption in order to make ends meet and not support the factory farming system.
And here we go!!! Girlfriend, I AGREE!!!! Definitely! I really and truly do! I do my best with the small budget we have to make sure that the bulk of our food is fresh fruit, veggies (ok so most are frozen.. but we still eat them- even the kids!), and yummy potatoes, and lots of rice. I think I buy ice cream for us once a month and rarely do we have any "snacky" things unless you count the rice krispie treats for the kids and the chips for Carlos. The kids eat like me, mostly vegetarian, plus some nights I'm making stuff like "breakfast for dinner". Like I said in my previous post I only eat meat a few times a week because 1. I don't really feel like I NEED it and 2. it's too much cash-ola.
My issue with the cost though is having a man at home who would rather kill himself than be a vegetarian. Meat at lunch and dinner is his thing and I can't make that choice to eat less meat for him. So when I have my limited funds to work with and I would rather make sure the rest of the food is decent- I go for the bulk buys and cheaper stuff for meat. I won't buy meat from a hole in the wall grocery store- however when Stop & Shop has their sales going on I stock up. I also buy frozen shrimp and fish from Target- they sell it in individually frozen bulk bags- $8.99 for 10 pieces of fish where as at a speciality store that $8.99 might cover one salmon steak. I never go for fast food (ignore the time I went during my trip to Baltimore desperate times...) so I'm not supporting the fast food industry.
Is this supporting the government funded corn farm industry and also supporting meat making plants that I don't necessarily agree with their ethics and processes? Yes, probably.
Do I feel like I should be setting more money aside towards the food budget so we can buy more sustainable veggies and meat products?
At this time in my life. No, I just can't. And I feel like a lot of people might be in the same boat. Might it seem wrong and selfish of us to not desire giving up the things we want to eat because we don't agree with the ethics? Is anyone going to compare this to something crazy like me believing slavery was a necessary evil? God I hope not! (And I hope PETA isn't reading this right now either!)
In my world I see people making the choice between paying the electric bill or buying food. Paying the doctor bill for an emergency room visit or putting gas in their car. Paying for child care or paying for heating oil. In today's economy people who were just skating by two years ago are now wondering how they will survive the winter. The older folks on Social Security are going to the grocery store and buying $20 dollars worth of food for the week - so they HAVE to buy the cheap stuff and I don't argue with that one.
What I hope to see is that either my (and everyone else's) financial situation turns around so I (we) can do more with my food buying than I (we) can right now or we can turn around the price of sustainable food so that everyone can support the cause.
The likelihood of either happening anytime in the next year?
Slim to none.
I do what I can with what I have unfortunately. And Erin, believe me I'm not trying to put down what you said in reply in any way- I hope this clarified what I was thinking about just a little bit. I love you!!!!!!
What do you guys think? Am I a quack? What are your views on this?