The Way, Way Back

I was going through some old accounts this week, and I found the personal blog I was keeping back in 2007—and the very first post I wrote about going organic on a budget.  Thought I’d reprint it here for posterity’s sake.  Enjoy!

FEB. 7, 2007 — Over the weekend, the Husband and I made a trip to Wild Oats for our weekly groceries.  Our goal was two-fold.  First, as I’ve mentioned, we are operating on limited funds, so we’ve switched over to the envelope method of budgeting for things like groceries; we pulled out $300 at the beginning of the month for groceries, and we’ll only be using that cash to pay for our groceries.

Second, we wanted to shop at Wild Oats because, after both reading Pollan’s article, we were ready to take the plunge into buying more healthful, organic foods.

It was an interesting experience to say the least.  My husband had a piece of paper and a pen and kept a running tally of everything we put in the cart.  The hardest part was figuring out fractions of a pound in the produce section — next time we’re bringing a calculator!  (Oh, rusty math skills!  How you haunt me!)  We made it through the store and realized we’d forgotten the turkey for a stew we were planning to make — but we were already at our weekly budget.  It was a really interesting exercise, going through the cart and putting back some of the things we’d picked up that weren’t on the list, like ranch dressing, ready-made soup, sour cream.

It was also really challenging to only pick out foods that had only five ingredients or fewer.  I found an organic raspberry jam with only five ingredients, and though the ranch dressing (that we eventually put back) had more than five ingredients, they were mostly spices.  But that rule definitely ruled out a lot of things for us.

Overall, we spent just over $60 for a week’s worth of food for two people, and I would estimate that 90% of it was organic whole foods: fruits, vegetables, meat, and milk.

This is actually a food revolution for me in and of itself.  As soon as I start thinking about being frugal and keeping to a budget, my mind immediately turns to coupons and cheaper foodstuffs, but the whole idea of our new ethical eating is to eat better foods, and in this society, better means more expensive.   It seems counterintuitive that we should be trying this now, at face value.

On the other hand, how long can we afford to eat the way we have been eating?  Maybe the costs of that won’t catch up to us for ten or even twenty years, but they will catch up.

We managed just fine on our self-imposed budget, and we got much better quality for our money.  Better food, better health, better life.  On a budget!

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