Nowhere, that’s where!
Americans have been conditioned to believe that food should be cheap. We actually spend less of our income on food than citizens of any other Western democracy.
Why? Advertising. Manipulating consumers to believe that price should be the deciding factor when buying food. Price wars between grocers who compromise quality and safety to deliver. Cost-cutting by manufacturers who use cheap substitutions. Government subsidizing of poor quality crops like soy. Legislation that empowers factory farms and places undue burdens on small ones. A concerted effort by Monsanto and the GMO Mafia to cast doubt on the scientific research on Frankenfood. And because we’re trained to spend as little as possible (.99¢ for an antibiotic-packed whopper, transfat fries, an obscenely gargantuan soda, diabetes-inducing dessert and thousands of health-decimating calories), we bristle at the prospect of spending $1 on an organic apple or $10 for a pastured chicken. We think someone’s trying to cheat us.
While it’s true that Whole Foods has a huge markup–you’re paying for beautiful store graphics and shiny displays–you are also paying to ensure that there are no synthetic chemicals in your food, that you are not eating endangered fish, and you can find out from the well-trained staff what farm your meat comes from and how it’s raised and slaughtered. They also usually know which melon is the juiciest and will let you taste test. Costco is trying to change the organic business model to make organic more accessible by buying and leasing land to independent organic farmers. And HEB, one of Texas’ largest grocers, has more stores and therefore more bargaining power than Whole Foods and is able to carry some quality produce at lower prices. (Always ask if it’s local: if not it likely comes from large factory farms). Still, organic and pasture raised will always be more expensive. Why?
Because it’s a different product.
Farming land the traditional way is more time consuming and produces less yield. Using natural food-grade pesticides instead of chemical spraying of crops and keeping organic land GMO-free costs farmers–most of them independent–a lot of time and money. And trust me–they’re not getting rich.
img class=”aligncenter wp-image-1567 size-full” src=”http://goodfoodfighter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/img_6520-1.jpg” alt=”local farmers market” width=”700″ height=”467″ />
So why should you allocate more money in your budget for food that’s grown sustainably in soil that’s more nutrient rich with higher quality heirloom seeds or animals who’ve been treated well and fed their traditional diet who will now become your food? You’re right, that was a rhetorical question.😀
There are, happily, ways to keep costs down while keeping yourself and the environment healthy:
- Buy produce in season. Don’t buy strawberries in the winter, for example. Your body doesn’t need every fruit all year round. We did not evolve to eat like that.
- Buy frozen produce. Good brands are flash-frozen quickly after harvesting to retain quality and are a close second to fresh produce.
- Patronize local farmers markets. You can find all kinds of fresh food and also condiments and skin care.
- Only buy organic for the Dirty Dozen–the list compiled by the environmental Working Group of the most dangerous produce.
- Ask around to find out who is making food locally and selling it out of their kitchen.
There are a lot of creative and passionate people with good ideas who are launching small businesses in Austin, since it’s an entrepreneurial, health-conscious and foodie city. Read more here one of my local Austin favorites, Katie Visco at Hot Love Soup.