I went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon and spent way too much money. It was seriously heartbreaking watching the total increase as the cashier rang up my groceries. I’ve had a hard time with the food stuff lately. I find it shocking and frustrating that we spend so much more on food in Texas than we ever did in DC. I have some ideas about why that is:
- We buy more processed stuff than we used to. We still hardly eat any processed food compared to the average American, and probably compared to most health-conscious Americans, too, but it’s more than we used to and boy is that stuff costly. Examples of this are things like ice cream, Clif Bars (ew, but a necessary evil so I can always eat on the go if I have to), and cereal (our homemade granola was getting to me, so I’ve been digging on Ezequiel Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal lately – it is high in protein and very easy to digest since it contains no flour).
- We are definitely consuming more luxury foods like avocados, which I used to only purchase if they were on sale. I justify the avocados because I need the fat and calories for the baby, and I buy the $5 bag of 4 organic avocados so they’re not super crazy expensive, but we never used to buy a bag every week. Ditto strawberries, which we only used to get if they were on sale at the farmer’s market. Now I buy a plastic box of California berries every week, and a little bit of me dies each time I do (see the next item about local, seasonal produce).
- The biggest culprit is probably our now-routine consumption of out-of-season and non-local produce. It used to be that we only went to the grocery store for lemons, fish, and pantry items, and occasionally meat or chicken. We haven’t found a good source for local produce here yet, and with my appetite being what it is (um, can you say fickle?), I’ll buy almost anything if I think I’ll want to eat it. I really, really miss the bounty of the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market. They had everything there, and once we figured out how to shop that market, we were able to eat extremely well without spending a ton of money.
- Mass consumption of meat and dairy. We eat so much more of this stuff than we used to, in my attempt to pack in lots of fat, protein, and calories in general. Lots of burgers, which I admit are cheap in the grand scheme of meat, but we are really eating A LOT of them. Also cheese and yogurt, substances that rarely, if ever, made their way into our fridge. And it doesn’t help that the only cheese I have an appetite for lately is the nicely aged Parmigiano Reggiano. Let’s not talk about how much that costs.
So, I’m frustrated that we’re spending all this money on food when our income is so erratic and unpredictable. But even more than that, I’m frustrated that we’re so out of sync with our beliefs when it comes to food. When we were buying almost all our food locally, we were supporting small farmers and eating in season, and feeling really great about both. Shopping at the grocery store for things I feel like I should be able to buy straight from a farmer makes me feel empty and sad. It’s more than guilt, it’s a deeper feeling of just plain ol’ wrongness.
For now, we’ll probably keep this grocery store-centric eating up since the baby is due in a week (a week!) and I am still trying to gain as much weight as possible. I had a prenatal check-up yesterday and only gained 1 lb in the past two weeks, so I still really need to be focusing on eating all the time. On top of that I have been exhausted, which makes it harder to plan and prepare the type of nutritious meals that typically form the foundation of our diet – especially since I have nearly lost my appetite for a lot of our old favorites (greens? ew!). But once the baby’s here and we have established some sort of rhythm (don’t laugh, I believe it is possible!) I am going to see about getting involved with a local farm or farmer’s market. I was so disappointed with the main Saturday farmer’s market downtown, but I heard the Wednesday one closer to our home is better. Maybe I can even get there next week to check it out. My hope is that I’ll be able to get involved in the local food community in some way – both to support and nurture the community and also to make it easier for us to eat in a way that makes us feel healthy and happy instead of sad and broke.
Now, on a happier note, that photo at the top of this post is of the gigantic organic heirloom tomato I picked up at Boggy Creek Farm a couple of days ago. It is finally ripe, and we are going to eat it tonight, unless I devour it sometime between now and dinner. This week was the first in a while that I’ve made it to Boggy Creek, and while it feels great to go to the farm and purchase directly from the farmer, it is not cheap and the variety is limited since, you know, it’s just one farm. That being said, the farmers that own and operate Boggy Creek are incredible people who are very involved in the sustainable food movement, and their farm is at the top of the list of places where I’d love to volunteer. I can just see myself now, with the baby in the sling, helping out around the farm or at one of the two weekly farm stands….