I once heard that it takes two weeks to develop a new habit. Whether or not this is true, I have certainly struggled this final week of the NOFA-NY Locavore Challenge. It’s been more about time than eating (with the exception of a couple days, I’ve stayed all or mostly local). With the kids back in school and work gearing back up—not to mention I’m pitching a book and volunteering about 10 hours per week—time has not been on my side. This is partially why keeping a daily blog or following a specific diet (being a locavore is a general diet, but having to prepare a certain food each day is a specific task) is so difficult for me; if I’m writing here, I’m cutting corners somewhere else.
And then, of course, there is the cost involved in eating local. Now, I could go on and on about how factory food (often imported from countries with dubious track records when it comes to public health) is not really cheaper when you factor in long-term health costs and damage to the local economy. However, when you can buy pink sludge for 99 cents per pound and ground beef at the locally sourced butcher is nine times that amount, it really can make eating local a financial burden. Vegetarian option? Well, I pay in the neighborhood of $600 for five months’ worth of my CSA. While that works out to roughly $30/week, I pay this all in advance, which is a real burden (I generally use the money my parents give me at Christmas to help fund my annual CSA purchase). I believe in the CSA movement, so I really look at this cost a bit the way religious people do about tithing: I’m paying a bit more to a cause that I have faith in, so it’s worth it to me.
Not everyone can budget this way, and while the farmers market is generally cheaper than any grocery store I’ve seen (forget about “corporate organic” groceries, which are obscenely over priced), you still have to get to a farmers market, which may not be an easy, convenient or immediately affordable thing to do.
I had planned to write out a food policy/social justice piece this month, regarding the cost of eating well and eating local, but I’m thinking I’ll run out of September before I manage to do the appropriate research. (If you are interested in doing some of your own, I recommend checking into The Blk Projek and its Executive Director Tanya Fields.)
In the meantime, well, I have to work, have to finish up some volunteer work (for my community garden and I’m on the PTA at my son’s school), and do something with the kids (they’re home for Yom Kippur, and we’re thinking of going to the Botanic Garden). It’s going to be another busy day.