Thursday, September 23, 2010

Poor Locavore

It happened gradually, but it appears I've turned into a locavore. I'm not 100% locavore: I still buy some food, like cold cereal, that is made in a factory several states away. But slowly, I've been adding more local, whole foods to my family's diet. And I'm not sure how this happened because I was not a big fan of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I found it elitist and impractical. Maybe it started when I read Michael Pollan's Food Rules, a moderate, common sense look at how we should eat.

I remember the spinach recall from 3 or 4 years ago. At the time I was eating fresh spinach daily and the fact that I could not find a fresh spinach leaf to save my life really threw a wrench in my day. Of course getting e coli from a tainted fresh spinach leaf wouldn't have been too hunky dory either. I realized that it would be very simple to grow my own spinach at home. I'd have an endless supply and I'd know exactly where it came from, all for around $2 for the cost of seeds.

I'm not a proponent of organics. I think its fine if farmers use pesticides to increase crop production. Sometimes it seems the term "organic" is simply another way of saying, "more expensive." In addition, organic food production ultimately ends up adopting the same practices of the big food companies because you simply can not produce food on a large scale and use small scale farming and production practices.

I'd rather have my food come from a local, responsible farmer than be organic.

I just want my food to be real food, not from a factory. And if my food is grown or produced locally, I know I'm getting the freshest, best tasting, most healthy food for my family.

Don't come running over here to open my pantry and point out that I'm a hypocrite because I have Jell-o and a box of graham crackers. And lots of cold cereal. Like I said, I'm not 100% there and I probably won't ever be 100% there. It's not important to me to make a statement with my locavoreishness. I don't care what you eat in your home. I don't want to judge you, just like I don't want you to judge me for putting Uncrustables in my kids lunch boxes from time to time.

I have come to enjoy knowing where my food comes from, and knowing that it didn't get made in a factory. (Tip #19 in Pollan's Food Rules, "If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.)

The problem with being a locavore is it can get pricey. Take, for example, my milk (pictured above). This is a half gallon of 2% milk, pasteurized once, not homogenized, in a glass bottle (did I also mention I am trying to get away from plastic mixing with my food?) and delivered once a week. I might be a bit of a romantic, but when that milk comes on Wednesday afternoon, I like to think that it was from a cow that was milked that morning. It makes me happy thinking that I have a local, fresh product.

Now here is the shocking part.

For 4 half gallons of milk, I pay (I'm having a hard time admitting this) sixteen dollars. $16!!! And since the minimum order for weekly delivery is $18, I usually add on a dozen farm fresh eggs for $5.

How can I afford to keep buying this milk? I feel absolutely crazy for buying it and every week I think I'm going to cancel the service, turn in my glass bottles and be done with it. But then I think, "I'll cancel next week."

I know that $8 a gallon is not too astronomical for organic milk. And it's delivered. But I don't care about "organic." I just like that it is local and fresh and not over processed and not in plastic.

I just don't think it's worth it anymore.

It's too expensive to be a locavore.


Gwen said...

The Whole Foods around here sells milk from a farm not too far away in PA in glass bottles. You have to pay a $2 deposit each time you buy the milk which they give back to you once you return the clean bottle to the store. I don't buy it too much so I'm not sure exactly how much it is (obviously more than anything in a carton), but you can definitely taste the difference! That milk is amazing. Every time I buy it I feel like a glutton, but it does make me feel a little better that I don't have to throw something away.

Erika said...

I was going to ask if the taste of the milk makes it worth it, but Gwen just answered my question! I wish I could afford to be a locavore--maybe one of these days. But for now it's the cheapest stuff I can find, even if it means Walmart, sad but true!

Afton said...

I can't really tell a big difference with the milk. Which makes me feel even more crazy for buying it.

Fitzgerald said...

Afton, thats what I pay for raw milk. But, not delivered. If it was delivered I would pay a little more. But raw milk you can defiantly taste the freshness and oh so yummyness of the milk. OH, and the cream mmm mmm heaven!

poorlocavore said...

I've been dealing with some of the same issues, in fact doing a year-long research project on it, and it can get pretty complicated. I don't even try with the milk-as long as it's not RBST, we're okay-but with three boys age 9-13, we couldn't do it otherwise. The milk obviously has some real but non-tangible value to you, i.e. you appreciate the fact of it, and that is worth something; but only you can decide what that is.

And I'd love for you to check out my blog at to see how I'm trying to deal with it.