As a young girl, I remember my mother scouring through the grocery ads each week. I remember walking down the aisles in the grocery stores and having her show me the prices of the food. She showed me how to look at the weight of a can or box and compare the prices of different brands to find the cheapest ones. I remember her clipping coupons and using a small notebook to keep track of all of her expenses.
Two decades later I have become my mother in that regard (although I don't go quite so far as saving tin foil and using food containers in replacement of Tupperware). I anxiously await my weekly grocery ads and keep a notebook with that weeks fantastic finds. I look forward to clipping coupons each Sunday in hopes of saving a few bucks. I price match at Wal-Mart, and plan my meals around what's on sale!
The only reason I tell you all this is to show you the error of my ways. I have been transformed by an incredible book I am reading by Baraba Kingsolver called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". She has opened my eyes to the need to support my local farmers! Silly as it sounds, her words have greatly impacted me. She comments that "What we eat determines how we live". As a whole I have been very uneducated about where my food comes from. Who grows it, who processes it, what foreign policies are in place because of what I eat and how do those policies affect me? Who determines what kids eat at school, and how do I get a say? Is it possilbe that the food choices I make each day affect far more people than just me and my family?
Because I lack all of the eloquence of writing that Barbara Kingsolver has, I am just going to give you a little taste of what is in her incredible memoir.
"Grocery money is an odd sticking point for U.S. citizens, who on average spend a lower proportion of our income on food than pople in any other country, or any heretofore in history. In our daily fare, even in school lunches, we broadly justify consumption of tallow-fried animal pulp on the grounds that it's cheaper than whole grains, fresh vegetables, hormone-free dairy, and such. Weather on the school boards or in famililes, budget keepers may be aware of the health tradeoff but still feel compelled to economize on food - in a manner that would be utterly unacceptable if the health risk involved an unsafe family vehicle or a plume of benzene running through a school basement.
It's interesting that penny-pinching is an accepted defense for toxic food habits, when frugality so rarely rules other consumer domains. The majority of Americans buy bottle drinking water, for example, even though water runs from the faucets at home for a fraction of the cost , and governement quality standards are stricter for tap water than for bottled. At any income level, we can be relied upon for categorically unnecessay purchases: portable-earplug music instead of the radio; extra-fast Ineternet for leisure use; heavy vehicles to transport light roads; name-brand clothing instead of plainer gear. "Economizing", as applied to clothing generally means looking for discount name brands instead of wearing last year's clothes again. The dread of rearing unfashionable children is understandable. But as a priority, "makes me cool" has passed up "keeps arteries functional" and left the kids huffing and puffing (fashionably) in the dust."
She made ne realize that I may not even bat an eyelash at spending $50 for cable each month, but wouldn't spend an extra quarter on a head of lettuce if I didn't need to. NEVER AGAIN....well, ok, maybe not never, old dogs take time to learn new tricks. But I definitely feel a little more educated what happens to the dollars I use on what I eat. I had no idea the positive impact that buying local have have on some many different levels. I have such a new found respect for small time farmers that attempt to compete with HUGE agribusiness conglomerates. There is an accountability in the quality of food you buy when purchased from a local farmer versus shipped from some random country.
I admit that it will take time to change my thinking about spending a little more money on better qulaity food (altough I will still look for those bargains). But the seed has been planted (no pun intended) and I plan on become much more acquainted with my local farmers!