Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday, August 4: Day 4 - What we bought

Oh the bounty! This picture brings such a smile to my face--it is most of what we will eat this week. We had some meat in the freezer and we will buy fresh sweet corn and melons this week from Old Stage Vegetable Garden. Our monetary outlay for the week is $120 (adding in the meat we already had). Twenty-two dollars of that was for 20 lbs. of wheat, that will take us through more than one week. We also traded with a farmer for a 5 gallon bucket each of corn and oats.

We all vote with our dollars every time we make a food purchase. Assuming you are willing to leave conventional factory food behind, what do you replace it with? Local? Organic? Sometimes you can get both, but what if you can't? Which is "better"? Anyone who is a committed Certified Organic shopper should read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. This fascinating book will help you understand what you are actually getting (as opposed to what you think you are getting) for the premium you pay on Certified Organic.

Organically grown food has fewer chemical inputs, which we consider to be a good thing. But is that offset by the diesel fuel consumed in trucking food from California, or the jet fuel from South America? And we are starting to hear that China wants to be a player in the US organic food market. Do you get to keep the frequent flier miles if you eat the food?

There is no one right answer. But you have the power (we would say the responsibility) to make decisions that support what you value. But do us all (yourself included) a favor and don't go into this blind. Think about what you care about, and figure out how your consumption habits relate to this.

So what do we choose? For us, local trumps everything. Organic and local earns bonus points. Why is local so important to us? We feel it's fresher and tastes better. There are varieties of things like tomatoes and apples that just can't survive travel. We keep our money close to home. Many national brand Organic labels are owned by huge multinational conglomerates. My neighbors need my money more than Unilever does (not that I'm giving up Ben and Jerry's once September rolls around). And we get accountability. Have you thought about food safety in the last few years? Let's see. . . Mad Cow, tainted spinach, beef, chicken, peanut butter, etc. Most of this contamination is a result of factory farming practices, and the only way to protect yourself from that is to know the farmer. And for those of you who have not yet done the homework, I am sorry to break it to you that Certified Organic absolutely does not guarantee that factory methods were not used, and in the case of animal products, it does not guarantee humane living conditions.

Educate yourself. Read some of the books we've mentioned here, and
listen to this NPR story about grocery stores selling local food.

Vote with your dollars!

1 comment:

Samantha said...

Good for you! We are trying to do this as well. I'm going a bit slower though. Not sure how we will manage this winter. Next year I want to do even more.