In line at Hannaford’s, I’m looking down at the black belt where I’ve placed my carefully selected items, knowing it’s going to cost more than it looks like it should. A plastic stick divides my bounty from the woman’s in front of me. I try not to be assuming, but I look out of the corner of my eye to asses her situation. She must have at least 3 children at home, and this week’s dinner looks like tacos, hamburger helper and salad mix. She had chosen meat, baby skinless carrots, bags of salad mix and soda. Delicious and home-cooked no doubt (except for the soda), and it will fill their bellies.
I look at my measly produce, almond milk, eggs, tofu and pasta sauce,(etc) knowing that she’s feeding three times as many people, and not spending much more than I will. And – I didn’t even buy organic this time. Hannaford's doesn't have much of a selection, anyway, Their organic produce section consists of lettuce, cucumbers and celery, and it seems to be cleared out by 4 p.m. every day. As far as I know, the only local products they sell are Bove's pasta sauce ($6 per jar, but delish) and hydroponic tomatoes - Vermatoes. Haha.
I am not pointing this out to try to make a point that I am a 'better' shopper. I have no idea what I would be buying if I had to feed a large family. It would completely depend on our budget - which is what sucks about this food system right now. It's nearly impossible to buy idealistically when you're broke. Many times, I come to the end of the month and buy good groceries on my credit card because I believe we deserve to eat well. Now I am being good, and leaving the credit cards at home, lest I think I will ever be able to pay them off.
Well, one of the reasons and I am working on a particularly tight budget is because I needed a new starter in my truck this week. $250. I can't complain much - I was not even very upset. I have had this truck, which I paid $700 for, for a full year this month (in fact, I also paid to renew the registration, but this was an expected cost.) I have not had a repair in five months, so I had felt it was due - routine maintenence kind of thing.
Though, that $250 was going to be Jamie and I's meat CSA money for the summer. I had met a woman from Maple Wind Farm at the last Burlington Farmer's Market. The farm had a pick-up point in Richmond (very close) and this could work for us! I had finally gotten Jamie even more excited about eating local, good, clean food. Though truthfully, I believe we can go without meat if we were going to be totally hardcore, but we are choosing a different angle. I know we will both want to buy it every so often, and the last six months or so we have been only buying local. It's easy enough to get now that we realize that Sweet Clover Market is close by, but it gets quite pricey. $12 for some chicken every once in a while sometimes gets hard to spend too.
Eating right has lots of challenges (who knows what is right, anyway - this just feels right and real right now) and budget is a big one. It makes me upset to know what I want, to know what is best, and to not be able to get it because we're trying to get enough to eat. I have certainly been the one to say 'Pay more, eat less' and I think I do follow this mantra.
But that unexpected $250 really threw off me off my golden path.
(PS, Jamie and I ended up finding a cheaper meat share from Applecheek Farm, which we will pick up on Thursday - wow!)