Eating Organic and Well on a Tight Budget – Possible?

| August 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

The other day, my girlfriend and I were hiking and she reported the latest from her mom, who is a lovely lady but who — how to say this nicely? — isn’t of the same political persuasion as the two of us.  Sometimes her comments about the Way Things Are can be a little challenging to absorb.  She related her mom’s recent grumble about people who are on government assistance, specifically who collect benefits through the SNAP program, colloquially called food stamps.  “Did you know Whole Foods Market accepts food stamps?  Can you believe those people are shopping at Whole Foods Market?”

Photo by Gamma Ray Productions (Flickr)I won’t relate the exchange that followed between them, but it certainly did plant a seed in me, no pun intended.  Just to get this off my chest first, though:  The very same people who shriek “Look at those stupid poor people….spending our hard-earned taxpayer dollars on junk food!”  are the ones who now love to shriek, “Look at those stupid poor people….spending our hard-earned taxpayer dollars on quality/expensive/organic food (read: fancy rich people food)!”  The stereotyping, the negative assumptions about SNAP recipients, the FOX News groupthink, the sheer hypocrisy — not productive in any way, and I’m so done. Aside from being truly stupid, lumping all people and all of their intentions into one convenient little pigeonhole is always the mark of a lazy mind.

But back to me.  (As usual.)  I pondered this comment all through the day and into the next.  I like to think that if Mr. GH and I suffered an economic catastrophe and found ourselves relying on EBT cards to eat, we would do things “right” and shop at various places and use various strategies to make the most of our allocation. Being a relentless self-experimenter, though, it really got me going:  We eat a lot of organic food, a lot of very healthy (and delicious) stuff.  Could we continue?  SHOULD we continue?  Is there something in the rulebook that says you can no longer eat X, Y, or Z if you’re on government assistance?  Also, the assumption is that you can’t shop at an upper-tier retailer like Whole Foods if you’re on a tight budget….hence its derisive moniker Whole Paycheck.  But what if you can, just by being a little smarter?  Are the concepts of eating good, clean, sustainably raised food and living within a tight food budget mutually exclusive?

Let’s find out, shall we?

(My husband swallows hard and smiles bravely at those five little words, just as he does every time I hurl myself into a new life hacking experiment.  Here we go again.)

More tomorrow on my great Whole Foods Food Stamp Challenge. As they say, enquiring minds want to know.



Category: Food, Money Saving, Organic, Sustainable

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