More from Rod Dreher on Earthy Crunchy Conservatism
Amazed by the nerve this has struck in people! I’m thinking about the negative reaction of some who have said this kind of lifestyle is only possible if you have the money to afford it. In terms of housing, I’d say that’s true in most places. But in terms of food, I’d say it’s probably less true than people think. Some people I meet have this idea that because I work for a national magazine in New York City, I must be rolling in cash. If they only knew!
For one, I’m a journalist for a political magazine, a surefire way not to get rich. For another, I’m the only breadwinner in our family; my wife is a full-time mother and homemaker. We live pretty close to the margins financially, but that’s a sacrifice we want to make for the greater good of our son, and our family.
Along those lines, Julie and I were talking last night about whether or not the food we eat is more expensive, or significantly more expensive, than the “normal” supermarket-bought diet. It’s hard for me to believe that it is. On meat, yes, for sure. We buy only from the local butcher shop, which has been in business since the 19th century. We used to only go there to get meat for special occasions, because the quality is so high. After a bout with food poisoning from chicken purchased at the cheapo local supermarket, we decided to henceforth buy meat from the local butcher, who knows our name, and in whom we can trust. The thought occurred to us that food is one of the most important aspects of our family’s life. It is not simply ballast, fuel. It’s worth spending a bit more to make sure what we’re getting is of high quality, not only in terms of health, but of taste.
That goes for vegetables too. I don’t really buy into the claims for the superior health benefits of organic vegetables, but without question they taste better. Is it because they’re organic, or because they’re fresh? I don’t care. As it happens, it’s really no more expensive to buy fresh stuff from the farmer’s markets than it is to buy produce in NYC supermarkets. The difference in taste is amazing — so much so that again, we’d happily spend more for better food. It’s a question of priorities.
That said, I have to wonder about people who think they can’t afford buying higher-quality meat and produce, yet think nothing of spending money on Fruit Roll-Ups, five-dollar boxes of sugary cereal, and two-liter bottles of soda. Julie and I were talking last night about a relative of ours who makes fun of us for our allegedly expensive taste in food, but who keeps the counters in her house laden with bags of chips, snack cakes and cookies for her kids. She also spends a lot of money on baby food. When our son was first starting solid foods, Julie bought vegetables, cooked them and processed them herself. It didn’t take all that long, it was healthier (no preservatives), and ultimately cheaper. She makes cookies herself for our son, using less sugar than normal, and spending less money on snacks. And we believe we’re saving money by purchasing bulk grains from the whole-foods market instead of laying out cash for packaging and marketing in the supermarket.
Bottom line: I’m convinced lots of people who think eating better is beyond their financial means are just making excuses. Besides which, as long as it’s not a huge difference, it’s worth spending more to eat better — if that really matters to you, that is.
I wonder if this is a good time for me to say that, in addition to all my other non-ideological idiosyncrasies, I also like the Indigo Girls and Bruce Cockburn? Oh what the hell. I do! And none of you conservatives can deny me this forbidden love! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!