food shopping

Ruth Mary Hallock (1876-1945) American Illustrator
illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock

Food – the kind of food we eat and the amount of money we spend on it are hotly debated topics. Because of Tim’s heart disease I’ve been on a quest to find a “diet” that will help his body cope with his compromised state of health. In 2012 we tried a vegan diet and he wound up in the hospital twice that year. In 2013 we switched to a grain-free diet and he has not been hospitalized at all, in spite of being under tremendous stress coping with his brother while he was living with us.

But I’m not writing this to promote any particular way of eating, in fact, my stance is very non-judgmental because I suspect different bodies may need different foods to thrive and avoid disease. One of the most difficult things for me about having Tim’s brother with us for eight and a half months was not that his own diet seemed so unhealthy, but that he never let up on criticizing me for “wasting” so much money on our groceries. I let him cook and eat what he wanted without comment and so wished he would have done the same for me.

I spent a lot of time fuming in my room, meditating, slowly acknowledging my anger and frustration, letting it go, examining with curiosity my beliefs about food.

There is a show on public television I watch all the time called Nature. Because I believe that nature is a great teacher, one day it occurred to me while watching an episode that the chief concern and activity of most animals, who definitely live in the moment, is that of locating and eating food. This thought helped me to see that it is perfectly natural to spend so much time and effort cooking and feeding us well.

The Atlantic, 5 April 2012

This is our story today: It is a story about how spending on food and clothing went from half the family budget in 1900 to less than a fifth in 2000.
~ Derek Thompson
(The Atlantic, April 5, 2012)

It is sobering to see that back in 1900 we considered it normal to spend over 40% of our budget on food! Today the average family spends only 10-15% of its budget on food. And most people complain bitterly about the price of food. We spend more money on fancy “starter castles” and less on nourishing food. Animals will leave their homes and travel to find the food they need to sustain themselves, but we humans demand that our food be delivered to us over great distances and at minimal cost. It seems so lopsided!

So we will continue along our current food path, scouting around for grass-fed beef and wild game, avoiding grains. Paying without questioning higher prices for local and/or organic produce. Knowing that no one has the final answers about food, but feeling much more settled about our choices.

14 thoughts on “food shopping”

  1. Barbara – I especially appreciate your written thoughts as Len and I spend a significant amount of money on high quality organic, free-range, grass-fed types of food than highly processed, pesticided, and GMO’d food. We enjoy what we call a farm-to-table, nutrient-dense “diet.” We fully embrace the mind-set that spending the money now on whole-health foods will go a long way toward not spending it later on doctor visits and hospital bills.

    1. That’s an excellent point, Laurie. Buying and eating whole-health foods is certainly an ounce of prevention when compared to the pound of cure that hospital bills and prescription drugs turn out to be.

      I like the phrase you used, farm-to-table. We get our pasture-raised, cage-free eggs and local honey from a farmer right here in our town. We get a kick out of watching the chickens peck around for bugs in the grass. We get to thank them in person for all their delicious eggs. 🙂

  2. I’ll “second” Laurie’s comment.

    BTW I just ordered a new bumper sticker for my car: “Frodo lost. Monsanto has the ring”.

    1. So sad, but so true, Sybil. Monsanto has a lot of nerve calling itself a “sustainable agriculture company.” Do you have a lot of bumper stickers on your car?

  3. It is indubitable today that food has a great importance in every living person’s life: physical, mental, psychological and social… Much stress, anxiety, physical numbness, lack of concentration, poor memory…. all results from, among other things of course, the bad habits we acquired with our daily food. It is a big problem indeed. And one may rightly speculate the big threat young generations may face in the future if they do not learn about, and change their eating habits. This is a worldwide problem as all of us tend to spend more and more time, money and energy on luxuries, pleasures, appearances… and forget about what is more necessary, more decisive in our everyday life.. as we often say… what good is life if it is without health?

    1. As Hippocrates declared, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food!” Our most precious possession is our health and we do well to make it a priority in our lives, without being fanatical or self-righteous about it. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Sadok.

  4. Wow, the statistics are amazing. It’s incredible how the percentage of a family budget that is spent on food has tumbled over the years.

    1. I was amazed by the statistics, too, Sheryl. It makes me wonder what led up to such a change in our priorities. I know a few people who grumble and gripe about the price of food way too much!

  5. I have to say how much I looked forward to the local growing season. I feel so much better when I can have a diet of fresh vegetables and fruits. I do wish organic produce wasn’t so expensive … we really need to subsidize farmers who grow organically and raise animals truly free range, so prices can come down (and, of course, animals can live in the best way). I also think HOW we eat is nearly if not as important as what – in that eating on the run, in a rush, etc. as opposed to making food preparation and eating a sacred part of our day … to respect and appreciate what nourishes us and sustains us. I WAS surprised by those statistics. XO

    1. Oh yes, how much better it would be for the government to subsidize organic and local farmers, rather than factory farms and huge food corporations. “Making food preparation and eating a sacred part of our day” is something I’ve been moving toward ever since Tim’s heart attack in 2007. I had never enjoyed cooking much until I started understanding how important it is to feed ourselves well. If only we had started sooner… Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Diane. *hugs*

  6. I missed this post before, Barbara, so I’m glad you added the link to it in today’s post. The statistics are mind boggling! Reading through the comments though, you said to Sheryl that you wonder what changed the priorities of people over the years, and my thoughts are that fast food chains have a lot to answer to. Companies such as McDonalds and KFC are producing cheap, filling food, leaving people with more available cash to spend on entertainment these days. I think that at the end of the day, profits have become more important than health, to the big companies at least.

    1. Happy to know you found this post, Joanne! I wholeheartedly agree with you – advertising has lured us into being gullible, very short-sighted and overweight.

      The implications of semantics can be profound. In my lifetime I’ve noticed that journalists no longer refer to us as American citizens, but rather as, American consumers. It’s a sad state of affairs.

      My conscience is going to feel a little lighter this Thanksgiving, though. I ordered a free-range, organically fed, locally raised, heritage breed turkey for our feast of gratitude. And I’m working on a sustainable side dish menu. It may be a drop in the bucket but we have to start somewhere and it will have to be worth the effort in the long run.

  7. It’s really interesting to see which expenditure categories decreased across the years and which increased. I was surprised how much housing costs increased; less surprised that healthcare and entertainment increased.

    1. I watch a lot of HGTV because I love seeing the inside of other people’s houses, but it still surprises me what people expect to find in their new homes. Master bedrooms with spa-like en-suite bathrooms, huge walk-in closets, huge kitchens with big “islands.” My grandparents, parents and I never had any of these so-called essentials. No surprise houses cost so much!

Would love to read your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from In the Woods

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading