I really wonder what it is that we actually pay for. We mostly pay for convenience I imagine. Prepared food , processed and packaged food. We like thinks like grab&go snacks or lunches and we like to be served ready to eat dishes. These are the things that we might pay a little more for. But then what about our groceries? We buy lots of ingredient type staples like dairy. We buy items such as eggs, butter (or margarine), milk, yogurt, and cheese. During this month I have found these items from a local source and bought them. First let me say that it was worth every dollar I spent on it and second let me tell you what it cost. A gallon of cow milk was $8.50 (goat milk was 12), a 1/2 lbs of butter was 7 bucks as was the ¼ lbs of gouda cheese. I just bought a dozen eggs for 4.25 and I believe I paid 7 or 8 bucks for a small ½ lbs tub of cottage cheese (which was amazing!). When I first heard these prices I couldn’t believe how expensive it all was but then I sat and thought about the prices that I am used to paying for such items. Take eggs for example, when I buy a dozen eggs at the store for 2 bucks or less I am getting eggs that have been mass produced (in industry farms) and shipped clear across the country to our supermarket for roughly .16 cents per egg. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? As I wake up each morning and go into the kitchen praying that there is something to eat I would gladly pay at least .35 cents for an egg! That’s what an egg cost’s when I get it locally at 4.25 a dozen. It’s actually a fair and realistic price. Not to mention I know that that money is going to sustain one of the few family farms in our area that hasn’t yet been taken out by these big factory scale food producers. I wonder if we might better value luxuries such as milk if we started paying these prices regularly. Where else would we need to pinch pennies? Maybe we would need to sacrifice all of the quick and convenient type ‘foods’ that we have grown so fond of. Maybe we would not leave a half a cup of milk lying around and maybe we would take a little more heat from our family when we did. Maybe we wouldn’t slam glasses of milk like they are water and we would see it more as a commodity than a carrier that is dumped after we finish the cereal that was in it. Maybe we wouldn’t eat cereal anymore. Maybe we have to bake more often with it to replace the snacks that we can no longer afford. Maybe these local farms would be able to thrive and we would delight in eating food that has come from within just miles of our houses. Maybe we would feel right about having seen the chickens that laid the eggs and knowing that they are well cared for animals. Maybe we realize that we have been paying too great a price for cheap and convenient food. Maybe it’s time we actually assess the true value in our food.
Another important thing that has happened as we have eaten locally is that I have slowed down tremendously. I don’t really think I have been that much less productive but I have definitely spent Way more time thinking about, finding, and preparing food. I am actually now a fan or the idea of a family member (of any gender) being set aside to just do these tasks like house wives were in the past. It could rightfully be a full time job to feed a family well. I needed salt and had to go to the ocean and get a bottle of water and then put it in a pan on my roof for the week to evaporate it and get salt. Do you think I am using too much salt now? It has tremendous value to me and I am using it as sparingly as possible. Erica just got a job that she has to show up at 7am so we were not able to make our breakfast in the mornings anymore. We had to either think ahead or go without. We have done both but thinking ahead is definitely a better choice. So in the evening while preparing dinner we have also begun thinking about breakfast for the morning. If we were to live on local, or even just seasonal food we would always have to think ahead. Recipes would change with the seasons and we would probably all start learning skills like canning and pickling so that we could occasionally enjoy an okra in the off season. Our pace would be drastically changed by food. I think that this is only a good thing. Our culture has become so driven by speed that convenience has been made a chief virtue in food sales. I wanna drive up to a window and get lunch without even getting out of my car, open the fridge and just unwrap breakfast, and I want someone to drop a cooked dinner off at my table. It’s not just that we don’t wanna prepare our food or even that we don’t know how to anymore but that we have devalued food to the point that it is just another task that needs checked off, unless it’s a moment of indulgence of course. We need to slow down and reconnect with the source of our food as well as the process of preparing it. We need to realize that vegetables are slow to come and too quick to go. We need to eat our pineapples, when we are lucky enough to have one, fully aware that each one takes two years to grow! We need to stop and eat together. We need to eat slower. When we do eat slow our bodies are able to let us know when we have had enough as well and we are that much less likely to be huge and unhealthy. We are unhealthy because of the speed at which we eat, the kinds of things we eat because we are on the move, and because we live our lives without resting, enjoying each other, or taking time to be with God. Our pace is killing us.