Blah, Blah, Food, Blah

A couple of years ago, when I started hearing a lot of buzz about The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I picked up a copy at the library. And then I flipped through it, saw that the print was a wee bit small and that it had over four hundred pages and returned it to the library unread. Yes, I am a true inspiration.

Then it was picked for one of my bookclubs this month and I started it several weeks ago in order to give myself time to work my way through it. And, my heavens, I couldn’t put it down. It combined two of my very favorite topics – food and finances (how food prices are driven, the government’s financial involvement in the food chain, etc). I was absorbed through almost all of it (I got a little bored during the section about hunting wild pig in Northern California).

And then, much to Bart’s dismay, I checked out (for the third time) Food, Inc. and finally watched it. He watched too. And we both loved it.

What I liked about the movie was the encouragement of ways you could make a difference. Because I keep my grocery budget as small as I can, I figured my money didn’t make much of a difference one way or another.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m still not willing to spend $11 for a single chicken breast or something, but I am willing to spend a little more in some areas and cut back on products that I don’t want to be supporting. I’ve heard for years about “voting with your food dollars” and not really bought into that whole premise, but I recognize clearly now that even my few dollars a week either supports or doesn’t support enormous corporations with only the bottom line in mind.

I signed up for a CSA box a few weeks ago (I split it with a girl in my ward so that I’m not 1. drowning in bok choi and 2. spending my entire budget on vegetables) and I’ve found a woman who lives nearby who sells eggs from chickens she raises in her backyard for much less than it costs to buy cage-free organic whatever eggs at the grocery store.

I’m not really in a position to eat in the most sustainable, perfect way possible. Few people are, probably. But I can make a few changes in what I do and right now that’s something I can feel good about.

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  • Reply smalldog March 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I want to support small-time farmers (my family recently retired to rural Virginia and many of their community are farmers and struggle), but I can't spend $11 on a chicken breast either. I buy organic fruit and vegetables when I can, meat when it's on sale and like to think it helps. Even a little.

  • Reply heidikins March 24, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I love love LOVED "The Omnivore's Dilemma," it's one of my all-time favorites. And while I can't afford (or, rather, I choose not to afford) the $11 dollar chicken breast either, I made huge changes to how I grocery shop and how I eat, and I am content with that. 🙂


  • Reply A March 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Yay CSA! We've been at it for a few months and are VERY happy — we eat more vegetables, we're introduced to foods we wouldn't have tried before, and we feel good about how we spend our money.

    The thing about "voting with your dollar" — a concept I wholly believe in — is that it isn't just about whether your small amount of money you spend makes a difference to corporations, it's also about how YOU feel about your own spending. I value spending my money to support causes and practices I believe in, and that matters to me, even though it might make much difference financially, either to the people/groups/businesses I support or the people/groups/businesses I don't support.

  • Reply Lindsay March 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Lewis and I enjoyed Food Inc as well and felt inspired to make a change immediately. Then the reality that we're broke and we live in Vegas set in. We did make small changes, bur there aren't any foods to buy locally, not that we've found anyway. I need to look into splitting the cost of getting CSA baskets.

  • Reply Packrat March 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Good for you.

    An idea: Check for local co-ops that sell locally grown and/or organic foods. The co-op where my daughter lives sells fruits and vegetables and breads for quite a bit less than the grocery store. Who would have thought? (Other groceries tend cost more, tho.)

  • Reply Kristy March 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I loved Food Inc, too. Wow. Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? That's the book that got me all fired up about food in the first place. Also The China Study, though that one's a bit more science-y and I skimmed big sections. Anyway, I'll have to go get Omnivore's Dilemma now!

  • Reply melissasmeanderings March 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    That's the whole point…even little changes can have an impact…I try to do what I can and not beat myself up over what I can't! Worse thing is to feel like you can't do everything , so why do anything…

  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife March 24, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Definitely a practical approach to "voting with your food dollars." I am truly intrigued by the whole idea of a CSA… I hope you'll write more about it… but I don't think it's for me because I am unbelievably picky, and can't stand the idea of wasting food just because I may not like it. 🙁

  • Reply Jenny March 24, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    you will love the CSA share.
    And you are smart to plan ahead–swimming in bok choi (or mustard greens) is a real issue with those CSAs.

  • Reply Karina March 25, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Hooray! Okay, 1. I need to get the CSA hook-ups. 2. I need to get the egg hook-ups. 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous March 25, 2011 at 2:07 am

    I love this game 🙂

  • Reply Anne March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I believe that even the smallest thing matters. I have not been buying any Nestlé products for a few years now, try to buy at the farmer's market a lot and did cut back meat after reading "Eating Animals". However, I would never try to convince somebody and at the same time love to hear people making changes like you did. Great!

  • Reply Peaceful Reader March 25, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    I'm so happy to read this post. Small changes make all the difference. Farm fresh taste so much better. I found a guy locally who sells chickens for $10.00 (about) a piece. Keep looking-local food abounds.

  • Reply Kelly J. March 26, 2011 at 3:41 am

    I found out today via a city memo that my health insurance actually will reimburse a portion of a CSA (why yes, I have been talking about this ALL DAY). See if yours might, too. It's under my plan's "wellness" reimbursement, but it covers $200, which is almost the entire cost of a half share for the entire season. Mind boggling.

    I watched Food, Inc and it totally changed my eating. I've read the Pollan book, too, but it never quite grabbed me (maybe the wild hog stuff).

  • Reply Jaclyn March 27, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Amen to making the small changes. That documentary altered my views on food forever.

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