Friday, November 5, 2010

Food for Thought

There’s so much talk about food these days. It should be higher quality — no, make that affordable for all. Wait...what about the unseen costs? Okay, well, sustainable then. And ethical.

Each of us must decide on our hierarchy of values when it comes to the food we buy. Do we want quality, low price, taste or convenience most? If quality (such as “organic” only) is always at the top of your list, you’ve most likely accepted the additional costs associated with that. If taste is all that matters, maybe you’ve noticed the consequence on your waistline. Rarely, if ever, can you get all of your values met.

I’ve always been a frugal person concerned with my finances. A few years ago I attended a seminar by Janine Bolon focusing on how to lower your overhead and get out of debt. There was a lively discussion about grocery shopping and how much Americans pay for food. The room was split. There were vocal health advocates arguing against cheap food on one side while another side was arguing that beans are beans regardless of brand. At the time I didn’t know what to think or whose side to take. We’re only talking about food, right? With hindsight and a little more research behind me, I say both groups have a valid point.

There are many products at your local grocery store that are not cheap. Of those products, some are priced for convenience and have little nutritional value, while some are priced for the extra care taken in choosing more complete, unprocessed food ingredients. At the same time, there are cheap products. Of the cheap foods, some are processed and dead, while others are down at the bottom of the food chain and very nutritious. I’m talking about beans, lentils, rice, oats and other simple pantry staples. These are the kinds of food that 80% of humanity lives on.

These staples aren't exciting. Few celebrity foodies build a brand around simple, affordable eating because its not profitable for them. That's where this blog is a little different. My goal is to help my readers lower their food bill and eat better by adding more nutritious foods that are not expensive or time-consuming. The argument that healthy food is too expensive and unaffordable for most people drives me nuts. The real key is moving your calories down the food chain. This does not mean that everyone must accept an extreme dietary revolution. Simply substitute a few meals a week, or maybe only one to start, with simpler foods from lower down the food chain. Stay tuned to this blog for recipes and price comparisons to help you on your way.

1. Shah, Anup. “Poverty Facts and Stats.” Global Issues, Updated: 20 Sep. 2010. Accessed: 22 Oct. 2010.

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