Last week I went grocery shopping on my own for the first time, which was an interesting experience. My closest grocery store is Harris Teeter, which is on the upscale side of things. So they do carry a lot of veg options, as well as local and organic food. I know there are some locally owned organic food co-ops in this town but I haven’t had the time to go searching for them yet. If they’re far off the beaten track, I’m not sure I can justify the gasoline. Especially if they don’t carry all the products I need, which would require me to go to multiple stores and use more gas . . . there’s always a trade off, isn’t there?
I had to buy ingredients for Saturday’s kick-off, so I knew the bill would be a little high, but it was still kind of harrowing, seeing the total that first time. I’m really a poor grad student now!
The reality is: local and organic food is expensive.
As I see it, consumers have a lot of choices and those choices reflect their principles (and bank accounts). I believe you should care about what you put in your body. Period. I also know there’s a lot of controversy right now about organic food (and rightly so), but that doesn’t prevent us from buying healthy food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus I think local food is a really good idea wherever and whenever possible.
The nice thing about living in the South (or any other generally rural area) is you really can get local food. Coming from a very urban area in a little state, I think it’s cool that I can buy things knowing exactly which farms around here they came from. The major benefits of buying local food are two-fold as I understand them: (1) you decrease carbon emissions when food doesn’t have to be shipped from overseas or across the country and (2) you’re putting money directly into your local economy by purchasing local food. Your neighboring farms are benefiting. I think in some ways it also increases accountability because it’s a lot easier to check out the practices of the place down the road than the one in Florida. Or China.
On the other hand, it is tough on the budget and it does limit what you can buy in the winter. I know I have to walk a careful line with this. I try to do my best to buy in season. And despite some dubious practices, particularly by big corporations, I do buy organic when possible. I know as a consumer when I buy a particular product, I’m sending a message to companies. I want this product. And I hope the more we do that the more these systems and products will be perfected.
It does decrease my beer fund a bit, though. I’ll never say that living as healthily and ethically as you can is without its sacrifices. And there is no perfect system. The best we can do is work with the information we have and continue to adapt when more information becomes available. Or that’s my feeling on it. I’d love to hear yours!
I’ll leave you with another nice thing about the South: you can buy beer and wine in the grocery store.