What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

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Thursday, 7 May 2009

Eat cheaply, eat nutritiously and sustainably.

It has long mystified me that those with limited income to spend on food choose to spend it on junk food; soda's, processed foods, anything with high fructose corn syrup in it, white breads, and fast food. You would think investing in nutrition; fresh, seasonal, and organic food, makes more sense. You can purchase and eat less because the food you eat is so much more nutritious. The paradox is that the poor in America tend towards obesity and have high rates of diabetes due to these food choices. I believe this behaviour is down to intentionally deceptive media and poor nutrition education. Here is a story over at Organic Consumers Association about a couple that tried to exist on the government food stamp minimum while eating only SOLE food; that's sustainable, organic, local, or ethical food.

"Siobhan Phillips proves that eating sustainably and ethically can be done on a budget - even on a seriously limited budget. She and her husband embarked on an experiment to eat only SOLE foods - sustainable, organic, local or ethical foods - "on the government-defined, food-stamp minimum: $248 for two people in our hometown of New Haven, Conn." Even more courageously, the two started this experiment with bare cupboards!

No, Siobhan didn't go on an all-vegetarian diet - though she did have to pass on the grass-fed steak. "Instead, I bought a small free-range chicken for about $9 and a scant pound of local ground beef for about $6, knowing that this, along with some sustainable canned fish, was our allotment of animal flesh for four weeks." That meant she really, really had to stretch the chicken, not only using up every piece of meat but also saving the fat and boiling the bones for broth.

But by buying dry beans in bulk, baking her own basic bread, and discovering thrifty cookbooks and international cuisine, Siobhan got to have her Chinese fried rice and Italian risotto and spicy biryani and eat them too. She says it didn't take much more time than usual - and she didn't have to give up her morning cup of organic fair trade coffee or fair trade cocoa desserts either.

Siobhan says her method won't work for everyone: "I relied on the sort of reasonably flexible schedule that is a luxury in far too many households, and I started with some basic cooking knowledge." But they sure sound like they'd work for me - and many other MNN readers. Read her article for more details on her frugal and tasty ethical eating - which she says she plans to stick to - save for the occasional pepperoni pizza."


Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife said...

I find that budget for that diet totally believable. Eliminating waste - ANY waste - is about half the battle when it comes to budgeting for food. So of course you'd use the chicken for at least three different dishes, strip every shred of meat off the carcass, render the fat, make stock from the bones, and add the crispy skin to mashed potatoes or a soup. Most of the rest is just knowing how to cook and bake. What little effort is left after that is just careful planning.

Nonetheless, I applaud her for documenting the effort and her success.

C Robb said...

I agree. Half the battle our wasteful society faces is rediscovering sensible frugality. Thanks for the comment.