Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why We Try To Save On Food—And Why It's A Terrible Place To Budget Money

Food, money, inequality, the inability to make ends meet. Sigh. Where do we begin when discussing these issues?

Western industrial society is crumbling before our eyes, and the seeds of whatever system humanity is going to build and rely on next are now only blowing in the winds of the chaotic wilderness that is our current cultural moment.  Many of us are just wandering around lost in this dystopic place in human history, suffering with salaries that are too small in the face of bills that are too high, forced to live in and pay for modern infrastructure that we can't afford, with no real way out of the mess.

So, it's hard to know where to start on the topic of food and saving money. My dream is to not have to discuss it at all, and to create a system where we all have access to organic and grassfed food without the exchange of money. I don't know if this is possible. But it's my dream.

At any rate, let's talk about saving money on food, why it sucks that we have to, and why it's a bad call.

We all feel excited when we can save money on food. A big bag of oranges on sale, cereal for a dollar off, opting for whatever has protein in the Trader Joe's freezer section over real chicken.

How good does it feel knowing we are doing everything we can to save money? Making our underpaid lives (sort-of) work out? That our own savviness and responsible shopping habits are resulting in a few more dollars in our bank accounts and extra food in the fridge? We found food we can afford! We chose to buy it! We are eating this week for less money! We are winning the game! THANK GOD THERE IS FOOD TO EAT!

Saving money is probably most of the reason why many of us buy conventional foods and GMO products. It's why I did. These foods allow us to get good deals, without which many in America cannot survive. This is where our capitalist food system is in need of change.

FOOD IS THE ONLY EXPENDITURE WE HAVE WHERE THERE ARE REAL OPTIONS FOR SAVING MONEY

Let's take a look at the average human being's required/mandatory expenses in modern American society.

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Health insurance
  • Higher ed (arguabley required.)
  • Food

These items are basically required just to get along. And the costs for the first 4 are major, and beyond our control. There is no place where much cheaper apartments are available if we're willing to forgo newer appliances. There is no gas station chain that's 50% cheaper than the rest. Our healthcare rates are set and must be paid. There are no cheaper universities.

WE. MUST. PAY. 

And we must pay A LOT.  So our income goes toward these expenses. Period.

Food's the only place where this isn't quite the case.

It is the one requirement on the list where we can make choices that can make a difference in our finances. This is where most of us turn to conventional foods. They're cheaper.

Yet this is arguably the LAST PLACE ON THE LIST where we should be cutting costs.

More expensive apartments won't prevent killer heart attacks. Better gasoline in our cars won't prevent diabetes or osteoporosis. And despite how deeply, DEEPLY I value higher ed, a degree won't prevent Alzheimer's or cancer. (At least not directly.)

We have nothing when we don't have our health. It is the fountain from which EVERYTHING floweth. How can we be there for our children when we have health problems? How can we use our degrees to work if we are sick? How can we pay for our apartments if we are in cardiac arrest? How can we drive an expensive car if we are busy undergoing chemo and barfing our brains out?

Yet I am pretty sure that more expensive food will prevent all these crises and more.

I am no scientist or certified health practitioner. I have no bonafide proof that organic and grassfed food is better for us. Perhaps it is not true, or even scientifically verifiable. I have not been to the doctor since I made these eating changes either. I only have my own experience.

But my experience of my body is that it has improved DRASTICALLY since I switched to organics and grassfed products. This food has relieved debilitating repetitive stress injuries in my hands and arms and allowed me to use computers again. My flexibility has improved. My muscles are stronger. My mind is sharper and clearer. I have more energy. I have no problem controlling my weight. I can only imagine it's done good things for my vital organs too, and I bet it is preventing cancer as we speak.

If there is any area of our lives where we should be able to get the best, it is food. Feeding ourselves outstanding food is probably the most important thing we do. Yet since it's the only area where we have cost options, we think of our wallets first and get what's cheapest because we must. And I believe, the most important thing to us—our health—pays the price.

It is a crime that we live in a society where we cannot afford to make good choices on this front.

I want us to live in a world where ensuring access to nutritious food is a major priority. I want optimum health to be within EVERYONE'S means.

Do you agree? How can we do this??!! Leave a comment below!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Summer 2016 with LGG

Welcome back to LGG!

It's summer 2016 and I've been through a lot since this winter. Most notably are major changes to my diet, which are going to impact my gardening and what goes on in this blog for the summer. Here is what is up.

A lot of stress and a few significant health problems forced me to take a serious look at my diet last year. While I have been pretty good about cooking and decent eating since about age 30, I really went off the rails in 2015 and let the Trader's Joe's freezer section take over in my kitchen.

Oh, night after night of glorious indulgence in TJ's dizzying variety of creamy cheesy pastas, the easily defrosted Americanized Asian delights and the cutely packaged cupcakes. As much fun as you all were, we had to part ways. 
Goodbye friends.
Because while these seeming wonders of modern-day food production do much to warm the heart and comfort the soul in these continuously troubled economic times, they do not, as many happy Trader Joe's shoppers probably know deep down, provide much in the way of nutrition. My body was really suffering as a result of this out-of-control dietary frat party. Monday morning always rolls around, and the health hangover I eventually found myself with from all the TJ's hoo-ha was killer. My body was in bad shape. I had to commit to change.

In January I began by finding and cooking the most nutritious fruits and vegetables I could find, cost be damned, which led me to eating all kinds of cool produce, and making a conscious commitment to organic foods.

Produce section at Natural Grocers. My new hangout.
After a couple of weeks of eating nothing but organics, I could not believe the bounce back in my health. 

My brain was sharper, my body felt lighter, my muscles got stronger (WITHOUT GRUELING WORKOUTS!) and my whole body began moving with incredible ease. I had sunny, sustained energy all day long – no crashes after meals and no mood swings. My skin began to glow. Wrinkles disappeared. If I had taken measurements, I think I would have proof that my limbs grew longer and I grew taller. No lie! I was even breathing easier. It was becoming a true joy to inhabit my body.

In short, organics rocked my world. Proper nutrition has been an amazing, consciousness-altering experience, one that I intend to keep building upon.

So, there is not going to be any gardening this summer. The blog is going to take a few new turns.  

I want to continue eating the amazing foods I'm currently buying, and learn more about what makes for truly nutritious produce before growing and eating any more of my own food. Because I believe growing food without pesticides probably makes the food better for you, true. But I also think nutrition has to do with SOIL QUALITY. How can it not??!! So, I'm going to explore all of this here at LGG, and hopefully visit some local Colorado farms to interview farmers about their practices.

Hopefully I'll come back at my farming with a whole new level of knowledge about nutrition, and produce some serious, mind-blowing produce.

In addition to nutrition and farming practices, I'm also going to blog more about the foods I eat now, and fun ways I have found to afford them. I might even be able to challenge the notion that organics cost more!



So, stay tuned for the upcoming extra-exciting installments on nutrition, farming and affordable organic living here at LGG! I am so excited! See you this summer...