Sunday, June 1, 2008

MP x 2 - Menu Plan and Michael Pollan

Didn't go to the farmers market last week, so that final tally from last week's shopping was: $138.

Meal plan for this week:
Brooklyn Pad Thai
Some sort of fried rice
Spanish Potato Pepper Frittata - from the Veg Times cookbook, to use up some of the potatoes that are in their drawer sprouting even as we speak.
DW and D1 are going away overnight on Thursday, so that means it's not worth cooking anything substantial, so I'll probably have one of my rare meat meals that night and give the little ones pasta.

Total from last night's food shopping: $106. Leaving room, as usual, for the tofu and milk run later in the week.

I've been reading Michael Pollan's new book, In Defense of Food. It's very good, as one would expect from this excellent writer, writing about a very important topic. He says at one point that Americans spend a lesser percentage of their gross income on food than any other developed country, and that when you look at the cost of industrialized cheap food - in terms of biodiversity, soil health, welfare of food animals, but primarily in terms of increased health risks like obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, all outcomes of the Western (read: American diet) - "you may want to find other areas to economize."

I've noticed as I've written this blog and followed other people writing on similar topics that, while I am obviously very conscious of trying to beat our family's food budget into some kind of shape, there are choices that we make that are not the most frugal choices. I buy high-end cold cereal, for instance. (Whole grains, no HFCS.) I shop at the farmer's market (most weeks, in season). There are some things I buy organic - milk and potatoes, for instance. We buy much of our (limited) meat from a local farmer who grazes them on grass. I make these choices because I think they are better, either for our health or, because of the way they're produced or transported, for the health of the planet. The price might be higher but the quality is far superior, and I fell like I'm having my spending supporting my values.

To some extent I'm trying to suppress my food spending in other areas so that I can support making the non-frugal choice in these. But the reason I write about simplicity and not simply frugality is that there are sometimes other values that have to be compared with, and may take precedence over, simply suppressing the food bill. And the advice in Pollan's book is certainly a good place to start.

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