Monday, July 15, 2013

Frugality versus Ethics

I am holding a lot of ideas about how I want to live in my head all at once.  Sometimes, they are contradictory.  Or at least they seem as if they are.

When I read blogs, articles, and books about whole, organic, local, sustainably raised foods, I get inspired.  I vow to see where our cow lived, or only buy produce from the farmer's market, or get organic, local milk.

Then, I start reading about frugality, and I get inspired again.  I think about shopping with coupons, dollar deals at the supermarket, buying food just before it goes off.

Right now, I'm stuck in the limbo zone between the two.  In one respect, I've got it all figured out.  In another, I have yet to set down priorities.

What We Do Right

In order to make our food maximally organic, local, and sustainable, we are growing and foraging our own food.  I know that our potatoes are organic because I didn't put anything on them.  I know they're local because they're 30 feet from my stove.  I know they're sustainable because *B* puts a lot of work into making sure the soil is fertile and the beds are well rotated.  And for the native perennial foods that we've planted, they're very happy with and grown for the soil and water conditions of the area.

When we forage, it's in our little town.  We choose places that we know aren't sprayed with weed killer.  And since they're wild, there's no pesticide on them.  They were there before us, and they'll be there after we're gone since we go through great lengths to try not to disturb the ground around the plants and leave enough for other wildlife and future propagation.

What I Need to Decide
It's our staple foods that are causing me the most problem.  Things like bulk beans, wheat, sugar, and meats are tossed between finding the best deal and finding ethically raised products.  As of right now, we buy a cow with my family every year from a lady who works with my mom.  The cow lives in her backyard.  While it's grain finished for the last two weeks of its life (which we wouldn't like), it lives in a pasture, and has access to both grain and grass, rather than being force-fed grain.  The meat is $1.85 per pound carcass weight.  That's not too terrible when you look at it.

We bought a pig last spring from a local farmer dedicated to raising organic, free range, happy, and healthy animals.  The pig was $3.85 per pound carcass weight.  That is significantly more expensive than beef for us - it was $1000 for a whole pig.  But the pig lived as it was intended, munching on acorns and such in a grove of trees.  We know that for a fact since we had to walk by the surviving pigs when we picked up our order.

But let's take black beans.  There are SO many options.  Bulk for a good price from who-knows-where.  Bulk organic for double the price from who-knows-where.  Grow them yourself and only eat a pound of beans a year.  In this case, I can't seem to find a local farmer (organic or non-organic) that grows these beans.

So as of right this moment, until I change my mind, my priorities go as this:
  • Organic, local, and free! (foraging)
  • Organic, local, and inexpensive (usually seconds - produce going off)
  • Local and inexpensive
  • Organic and local
  • Local
  • Organic and inexpensive
  • Organic
  • Non-organic, non-local, and inexpensive

What do you look for in your food supply?


  1. I have issues with this too, although I think my frugality wins out more than yours does. I am so excited to have a garden this year; I know it will be a step in the right direction. Another thing I try to do is eat less meat, because meat is less sustainable, and normally raised meat has more toxins than non-organic vegetable options, such as beans.

  2. We actually eat a lot less meat than we used to. *B* was just asking me the other day if I would have predicted we'd be eating so little meat a few years ago.

    We actually still have meat from last year's cow in the freezer, and this year's cow is due in any day. For once I'm scrambling to find uses for it.

    When it comes to non-organic beans to non-sustainably raised meat, though, the beans totally win out.