I’ve often heard the witty complaint: “It’s not Whole Foods; it’s Whole Paycheck”. I’ve indulged in the Whole Foods experience enough to know that this can be the case. The Chow blog shares the results of their investigative shopping experiment:
“Our run for “regular” groceries at the local Safeway came to $136.31, typical for a week’s worth of our groceries (and some leftovers). The total for the organic groceries was $199.78, about $65 more. And remember, organic food comes in smaller packages. Using these rough numbers, eating purely organic would cost us about $260 more per month.” (Source)
$260 more per month would certainly be cost prohibitive for many! However, this conjecture balances upon a modern foundation — one that may prove to be rickety: we should spend less than 10% of our overall income on food.
“Consider that in 1932, spending on food at home took almost 22% of disposable income, compared to the record low of only 5.6% in 2008.” (Source)
Might it be that we can afford relatively “expensive” real-food if we prioritize nutrition over entertainment and ease? Has our culture decided that accessibility to technology, cell phones, cable television, video games (dare I add cigarettes and alcohol, for many) are more important than real-food? Might this upside-down priority pyramid be reinforced by the addictive quality of inexpensive processed foods made from seemingly infinite variations of (for the most part) two government-subsidized ingredients: corn and petroleum?
Purchasing real-food can feel like a squeeze. In response to this, we must recognize that nutrition and health are list-toppers, bar none! As I wrote in In Response to Coca-Cola Anti-Obesity Campaign,
“The pharmaceutical consequences of consuming GMOs, as well as other substances disguised as food (i.e. high fructose corn syrup) may result in prohibitive healthcare costs for the very same families who feel threatened by rising food costs!”
Despite its reputation for being prohibitively expensive, real-food is not always as expensive as the nay-sayers would have us believe. While I pray that our culture rediscovers the importance of real-food to the extent that we are willing to pay for it, there are few barriers to uncovering inexpensive real-food!
Join me in my tour of Berkeley, California’s Monterey Market.
Oh my goodness, there is produce everywhere… literally. Think you can’t get organic, California grown avocados and berries in the winter? Think again!
Behind me in the check-out line is a lady with a full cart of produce. She shares: “I come all the way from Hercules to get my groceries here. It’s so much more fresh than anything in my local markets.”
Why do I feel more healthy and eco-friendly, just by being in the market?
- The two-foot tall mounds of swiss chard, perhaps?
- The largest bulk-food selection I have ever laid eyes on?
- The absence of turbo-sanitized, lemme eat some pesticides, bleached-just-this-morning supermarket luster?
- Maybe it’s the sensation that fellow shoppers are my people: hard-working, urban-homestead-bound foodies of all shapes, ages and income levels?
As I come down from my real-food high, it is appropriate to make a sobering statement: for those without income, real-food is indeed cost-prohibitive. And yet, real-food resources abound. Too name a few:
- Homefullness is an organization focused on providing resources to homeless individuals,
“Located on the grounds of the Gateway Shelter for Men, Homefull’s Micro Farm boasts over 160 raised beds, growing fresh produce.” (Source)
- Endlessly Organic is an organization that offers organic produce to families who may not otherwise have produce in the kitchen.
- Earthbound Farm Organic donates organic produce to local schools and hospitals. (Source)
- Organic Valley offers grants, cash, and food donations. (Source)
Ultimately, I’m making three statements in response to three questions today:
- Can we find accessibly priced real-food? YES!
- Should we re-prioritize such that a larger percentage of our budget is available for real-food? YES!
- As our culture re-discovers the vitality of real-food, is there market space for creative innovation in the real-food movement? HECK YES!!!
Thank you for reading, beautiful people! I appreciate your support and feedback. Consider following the Biocadence blog by entering your email address and clicking “subscribe”, in the upper right of the Biocadence homepage. Squeeze hugs!