Currently, I am sitting outside listening to the birds play in the palm tree above me as a gentle fall breeze smelling of cut grass and cooler weather wafts gently around me. The garden is doing ok after the torrential rains that saturated our neighborhood and most of the area this last week. Watering the raised beds will not be an issue as the ground is waterlogged in the low lying areas of our yard. The plants need some sunshine to perk them up and dry things out a bit more.
Why you ask are there logos for the major grocery chains in our area prominently displayed at the top of the blog today? The answer is complex. It is all about where my food dollars go and why I spend them where I do. Let me preface this by saying my views have been slowly changing over the course of the last 2 years in my current job and with the changes that have been happening in my life in general.
We are not rich. We are comfortable and we are safe. Most of all we try to be frugal not only to save for the future but to cause less of an impact on the planet. We recycle not just paper and plastic but things as well. Old clothes become cleaning rags, almost all of our furniture is thrifted, or Craig's List find and, yes, we have been known to pull a great item from the curb a time or two. We re-purpose things with paint and elbow grease and do much of our own repairs. We are not alone in these activities. Countless other people do these things but just don't talk about it much.
Anyone who knows me knows I use coupons. However, rarely are there coupons for organic or gluten free items. Many times when I shop I do not have coupons for anything or the coupon items are no less expensive than the store brand. (No double coupons here). Thus all purchases need to be thought through and a calculator is a must while shopping. So if I am going to all this effort to get the best buys on my food why am I spending my money in large corporate chain stores like Publix and Sweetbay? I know they are clean, I inspect them but are they concerned with the environment? Do they have ethical practices? Do they care about me and the food I am purchasing or the bottom line? Am I just going there for convenience? The answers are no, not really, the bottom line and definitely for the convenience.
Today, I made arrangements to purchase a case of peppers to pickle and can to build our non existent supply back up. I am getting them from a small produce stand that has been around for years. I am paying a lot less than at a grocer and will do the work myself . He gets my business and I get a fresh product. He is very clear that he does not grow these thus I know they are conventionally grown. I am ok with that as I am keeping my voting dollars in the area.
I do not purchase eggs or milk locally as it is illegal for it to be sold in the State of Florida and it is my job to close them down if I find them. It is better for me not to know about that part of the economy. It is there I am sure, but I am not part of it.
We do have a health food store locally. The prices are high and a couple of the staff a bit militant. Also I inspect them so I usually just go there when I really need something that I can't find online or am running out of gluten free items. The man who runs it is anti -vaccine and anti modern meds and much of his information is grossly outdated and highly misguided.
What does that leave me. Not much. The local ethnic place can be a bit sketchy and let's not even discuss food safety standards. So my dollars, for now, are going to Whole Food's. The store brands are no more expensive than Publix and the quality s very good. The politics of business is always questionable be it Publix or Whole Food's but at least I know my dollars are going to slightly more sustainable practices. I am voting with my dollars by growing my own, buying locally when possible and if that is not available then it is Whole Food's. If Whole Food's is not an option there is the local health food store and lastly Target, Publix or Sweetbay.
So how are you voting with your dollars? I would love to know.
Check out www.foodday.org for National Food Day on October 24!