Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's Been Awhile

Yes, I've been away for way too long. My writing here faded out over the past year because I had started focusing on my other blog, Dog Island Farm. Yesterday we hit 2 years since we started our year without a grocery store. Some things have changed.

We had finished up our first year and had loosened our restrictions half way through our second year. We still weren't grocery shopping much at all except for the random soy sauce and sugar. Our visits to restaurants were still limited to about once a month or less (more of a money thing than anything because I'm a cheap bastard) and I haven't stepped foot in Costco for food at all (we went in once looking for some random electronic device but walked out empty handed).

Also, some other big news, my stepson moved in with us full time back in June, so that has changed things quite a bit. It's amazing how much food a teenage boy can pack away in one sitting. He also started high school in mid-August (gone are the days of starting school after Labor Day). He made friends quickly and everything is going smoothly.

Two weeks ago I missed my weekly farmers' market trip through sheer stupidity (I just forgot to go). So instead I decided to hit up Larry's Produce in Green Valley. It's just a giant produce stand. I will not be doing that ever again. While the prices were phenomenal it was clear right away that most of the produce is not local (bananas and mangoes? reallly?) and the quality was horrible. 

Last week we missed the farmers' market again because we had to do an event that day. Instead we decided to make a rather large trip to Trader Joe's - something we hadn't done in a very long time. It's safe to say we won't be doing that again anytime in the foreseeable future either. It wasn't because of the quality of the food, which was infinitely better than Larry's. No, it was because of the cost of the food. Trader Joe's has always been cheaper than the big supermarkets but because we hadn't shopped at a grocery store for so long we hadn't experienced the rise in food costs so we weren't acclimated to them. It was sticker shock to say the least. This trip was 20% higher than what it was for us 2 years ago. With stagnant income it's just not something we can do like we used to. With the drought in the Midwest this year food prices are going to continue to skyrocket.

The farmers' market on the other hand has not had a rise in food prices like the grocery stores have. Stone fruit and apples still only costs $1.50/lb and mushrooms are still only $3/lb. These are the same prices they were 4 years ago when we moved here. And of course the quality can't be beat. Let's also not forget that by purchasing directly from the farmer we're keeping our money in the community and that farmer is getting all the money that I'm paying him rather than just a few cents for every dollar.

Buying food from sustainable farmers looks like it's really going to be our best option. By being sustainable they are less affected by erratic weather because they take care of the soil properly and they are diversified. Unlike agribusiness and their monocrops, if one crop fails they have many other crops to help support them. In the Midwest that one crop was either soy or corn and when those failed the farmers didn't have anything to fall back on. It's also important to note that the native prairie, which is very diversified, of the Midwest would have survived this year's drought with proper management. Grazing livestock on it would have been the best option rather than growing a monocrop to feed livestock. Now there's no crop to feed livestock which are being mass slaughtered. When one domino falls in our current food system, they all fall. It's not sustainable and we need to rethink the entire system.