Changing Your Buying Habits

7

Commercialized food has gotten too easy and too cheap. It is really astounding how cheap some things are.

On certain days, we can buy whole chickens at the local grocery store for under $5. How is this possible? It should cost more than that to feed a chicken. If you have cats or dogs you’ll know what I mean. How long can you feed a cat for $5?

Everyone should read the latest New York Magazine article about a guy who decided to grow his own food for one month of eating. Veggies, chickens and rabbit – in Brooklyn. This guy’s struggle to grow his own food for one month is inspiring. At the end of it you really have to ask yourself, “how is it possible to get so much for so little?” I really don’t want to know the answer to the question. I do buy the $5 chickens, but I try to balance this with purchasing chickens and other products from local farmers. If I were religious about this, I would go the whole localvore path and buy everything from local merchants. I think this is the right thing to do, but it takes real dedication and a willingness to at least double your food bill. 

We take too much for granted. Our quest for ultra cheap food (and everything else) has lead us down a nearly irreversible path. People now think that “organic” food is weird. 50 years or so ago, everything was organic. It just means “no chemicals added”.

My philosophy is to do everything in moderation. Buying things and doing things that are extreme is extreme. This includes buying things that are so cheap that it makes no sense. Somebody or something has to be paying the price for the insanity. This has to be bad. I’m not generally a bleeding heart. But sometimes you have to pick a cause.

So, what can you do?

  1. Grow some of your own food. Tomatoes and herbs are easy, start somewhere.
  2. Go to farmers markets, buy from the source. Keep these guys in business. It’s the only way many of us will ever taste heirloom varieties.
  3. Buy “heritage breeds”  if you can. This is the most expensive part. Not everyone can do this, yet. The more that do, the easier and cheaper it gets. Why are chickens white? The answer is that they were bred that way because black chicken feathers show after plucking. Most people (in the US) don’t like seeing missed feathers. White ones are hard to see. The end result, we have plenty of chickens that look great in the meat counter, but have no taste. Try a chicken or a turkey bred for flavor. It will blow your mind. They almost don’t taste real. Kind of like eating wild deer versus farm raised cattle. Huge difference.

Take a stand. Do something you can be proud of, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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