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C'est la Vie: Food for All

The headline on the front page of the Sunday Denver Post this week was "Spoiled System." I spend a lot of time talking here about food - growing it, buying it, and eating it. Most moms are trying to do their best to feed their families healthy and delicious meals. For some, the price of food can be a significant factor in what they choose to purchase.

If you've watched the popular documentary Food Inc., you may find yourself questioning all edibles  you purchase and consume. If you are already addicted to processed, high fat, high sodium, high sugar foods, maybe you'll just shrug your shoulders and say, "oh well." Either way, the ramifications of what we consume reach far beyond our own dining room tables. What we purchase can and will change the way corporations produce our food. If we demand more fresh fruits and vegetables, properly fed cow and chicken products, and organic options, the supply will arise. In fact, some believe that as demand grows, the prices will drop as competition increases.

I do not agree that healthy, and even organic, eating is out of reach for the majority of the population. With some creativity and hard work, many families could be eating better and saving themselves from the symptoms of eating food that isn't really good for them. Since finances always seems to be the biggest hurdle, I would like to suggest this is not as big a factor as we like to think it is. I have a few theories on how you can eat better without going over your grocery budget. Here they are:
  • Eat less. When you are eating healthier, you have fewer pre-packaged "snack" items around the house. Consider how many high calorie foods you are eating that you just don't need to... buy what's good for you and stop there.
  • Buy less. Consequently, you are not purchasing the same foods. Essentially, you are replacing your old food dollars with new food dollars. 
  • Shop for sales. This seems silly to say... when cherries are $4.99 pound don't buy them! I just bought organic apples at my local market for $.69/pound - that was $1.30 cheaper than their conventional counterpart. And even if they weren't organic I would have purchased them because that's a great price for fresh produce.
  • Don't get hung up on organic. Yes, it's a better choice in some cases but don't let it be a make-it-or-break-it factor. Do the best you can with what you have and choose organic when it's truly a great buy.
  • Frozen can be just as good. My mother always told me that frozen veggies are just as good as fresh once you cook them. There is some truth here since most frozen vegetables are harvested, packaged and frozen very quickly to maintain quality. Frozen vegetables (and fruit for that matter) are a great alternative when prices are too high for the fresh items.
  • Buy in bulk. We recently purchase a portion of local beef for the first time. My freezer is filled to the brim with a wide variety of cuts and ground beef that average out to about $2.00/pound. I know where the cow was raised, butchered and packaged. You can't beat that kind of value and peace of mind. Many warehouse stores are catching on too and carrying great organic options at reasonable prices. 
  • Consider gardening. Do you know what a packet of seeds costs? Usually less than $2.00. Do you know how much that could produce? Probably between 10-50 plants. That's a lot of vegetables! Even in a small space, you can plant enough to make a significant cut in your grocery bills... and you know where your food has been! It's also a great communal activity for your neighborhood.
  • Stay determined. Don't be discouraged and fall back into old habits. Resist the urge to buy that package of boxed macaroni and cheese. Maybe it means giving up your nightly bowl of ice cream (that wouldn't hurt any of us) or going vegetarian for 2-3 meals each week (again, this would be a good thing). I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly you can make changes when you simply don't allow yourself to have those "junk" items in your house.

Comments

  1. I completely agree with this post, Jenna! I try to do some of the things you suggest, but you gave me some great new ideas! I am always trying to balance between staying within our budget and having healthy food around. It frustrates me that healthy food is SO much more expensive than unhealthy food! Thanks for this one!

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