Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

The Organic Pocketbook: A Struggle Survived

You’ve heard of debtors prison. Even if it still exists somewhere in the world, I will never go there. I was reared to be responsible with money. Very, very responsible. If a fool and his money are soon parted, count me among the wisest folk you’ll ever meet. For me, a major spending spree runs about $150.00 and involves durable goods. I’m positively allergic to debt.

My dad once told me that money is choices. For me, like many women, it is also security. In my case, this means not only my own security, but also that of the 40 of so critters that depend on me for everything from fencing to feed.

I’m telling you this so you can understand what it cost me to go grocery shopping today. Normally one of my favorite activities, today’s shopping trip made my stomach literally ache with indecision.

There sat organic avocados, $1.89 apiece. Beside them, conventional for $.78. Organic tomatoes, $1.99/lb. Conventional, as low as $.89. Cherries, $1.99 for a pound of organic, or the same price for two pounds of conventional. Baby spinach, $4.99 or $3.50? Zucchini, $1.29 or less than a dollar?

But I said I would do it, and if there’s one thing I hate more than irresponsibility with money, it’s irresponsibility with words. Integrity is doing what you said you would, even when no one is watching. Even when it hurts.

And so, despite sufficient stress that I’m considering downing an extra teaspoon of fish oil before bed, I checked out of the store with $23.86 worth of produce. Even though my garden is currently languishing between early crops (greens, peas, rhubarb) and later ones (tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans), that should last me a week.

So, let’s multiply that up to about $100 per month for produce. Huh. Not so bad, actually. My former food budget was $200 per month. (Yes, it’s possible. I live alone and cook virtually all my meals.) $100 for produce is steeper than my comfort zone — I need to spare funds for meat and a few extras, like coconut milk and nuts! — but it’s not outside the realm of reality.

Because I’m not really that crazy about money. My bedroom walls, alas, are not stuffed full of hoarded cash. I’m quite content to spend money on priorities: my horses, my farm, adventure, knowledge, and certain people.

Including myself, I suppose. My health. My choice not to slowly poison my cells with daily doses of pesticides and genetically modified mystery plants.

If money is choices, there aren’t many more secure than that.

Hungry for more? You might also like A Tale of Oregon Elk: On Food and Gratitude.


3 responses

  1. Nice post. It definitely is something I struggle with too (part of what I eat is organic, not all). Good for you for making the change.

    July 10, 2010 at 7:53 am

  2. I've been making new choices purchasing good quality foods including grass feed beef. Like Mark Sisson said awhile back, spending a little more money on your health is worth it in the long run.

    July 10, 2010 at 11:00 pm

  3. Pingback: Monsanto. In the Pet Store. With the Debit Card. « NightLife

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