I've spent the last couple of months thinking about eating ethically on a budget. It was my intention to trial three different approaches to feeding our family on $150 a week. They were shopping solely at the local supermarket for what was readily available and cheap, eating exclusively organic and lastly, eating as much local produce as possible.
I have documented my findings here (as well as a time poor, focus lacking, english drop out stay at home mum can)* and briefly explored the issues surrounding the way we eat in our western context.
I've decided that for us, eating local produce needs to be first priority. Our garden provides us with some of the veg we require but not nearly enough to call ourselves 'self sufficient'. While we plan to increase production with each season (we've recently expanded our two garden beds to 6 and have a range of fruit trees down the back), it will be a long process and we will still have to 'shop' for the foreseeable future, if not the rest of our earthly lives.
So, where we can not produce ourselves, we will attempt to buy food that is both local and organic (especially when it comes to those highly sprayed items like wheat or broccoli).
In addition we'll commit to eat seasonally as much as possible. This means no fresh tomatoes over the winter months. But it also means we will relish the changing seasons all the more. In winter we will feast on Kale, broccoli, fennel and peas. When the weather warms we will pull the garlic from the ground, turn excess tomatoes into passata and devour pumpkins, beans and egg plant at will.
For now, I have a box of organic fruit and veg delivered once a fortnight and buy local bio-dynamic meat and grains in bulk. I buy organic milk for the kids while Dave and I still use the milk from our Aussie Farmers deliveries. I make sure or flour is organic too.
Before you label me a self-righteous wanker, let me confess that while it's my desire to be principled and ethical at all times when choosing and preparing food for my family, it also has to be practical.
I have enough stress and guilt in my life without adding any extra's. So, I'll do my best but often, it won't be perfect. Sometimes I'll buy passata made in Italy from Italian tomatoes, sometimes I'll buy home brand flour for 99c and i'll always stick to the best bleached white, 3 ply toilet paper on offer (much to Dave's disgust**).
At this stage of our life, food needs to be easy. That's the fact.
* rather poorly
** remind me to tell you about sending Dave to the supermarket for 'necessities' after the lady baby was born. All shall be revealed.
Tell me, is eating ethically (local, organic, bio-dynamic) really a viable option for your family?
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eating organic on $150 a week
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We can eat foods from all over the world anytime we want - but when we do, someone has to pay a price sooner or later. The transportation costs in terms of pollution and energy are enormous. Worse still, we no longer have the excitement created by having to wait for foods to be in season. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and this applied just as much to strawberries as it does to sweethearts.
- John Seymour, The self-sufficient life and how to live it, p. 392