Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Frustrated by food

Let's talk about food. For the last couple of years, I've been doing my best to buy food responsibly, meaning buying plenty of local food, organic food, basically food that is good for me and good for the environment. That goal has been supported by the opening of a farmer's market near me. And the food there is reasonably priced as well as locally and organically grown. But the market is only open on Wednesday afternoons and I'm a meat eater. Those two things are making my life difficult. I can get meat at the market. One farmer provides chicken and pork. Another has buffalo. But, it is pricey. Though less pricey than the grocery store. On my last trip to the grocery store, I wandered through the meat section looking for farm-raised, free-range, organically fed meat products. No beef or pork fit this category. Only chicken and duck. Purdue chicken and the store brand both cost between 1 and 2 dollars a pound, depending on the cut. The organic poultry? 3-4 dollars a pound. Now, I could potentially swallow that cost, but people on a serious budget? No way. And I see people in the store all the time with coupons and with the weekly circular only buying stuff that's on sale. Smart financially, but not necessarily healthier.

Organic fruits and vegetables have a similar markup. Luckily, I can get most of them at the market. But I had a debate with myself about buying avocados. I love them, but they are in no way local. I overheard someone at the store complaining about how she couldn't tell where the vegetables had come from or how they were grown. You don't hear that much around here.

One of the proposed items in the health care reform bill is a tax on soda, which even Democrats oppose. The problem is soda is not that cheap already. And healthier options such as juice are even pricier. I don't think the government can figure out a way to force people to eat better. I think most people shop based on what they like and what they can afford. And healthy options (not to mention sustainable ones) are usually out of their price range. Not everyone has access to a farmer's market and not all grocery stores even carry organically grown products. The time it takes to prepare a healthy meal is fodder for another post, but for many people, time constraints really drive their food purchases.

I'm going to keep trying to be mindful of my food purchases, but I'm frustrated by how difficult it is to make good choices.