Contents of one of my Bountiful Sprout Baskets

In the three years that I've been on the board of The Bountiful Sprout, the one comment that I hear most often, and which disturbs me the most, is "That stuff's just too expensive.  How can it cost more to buy direct from a local farmer than it does to get it at Walmart?"  Well, because it costs more per pound for a small farmer to raise a cow in a field of grass, using humane and sustainable practices, than it does for a big conglomerate to pack 'em into feedlots, stuff them with corn, and shoot 'em up with hormones -- especially if they are having it done in South America or somewhere that doesn't have the same restrictions that we have to abide by here.  I wish that wasn't the case, but it is, and I really don't know how to fix that.

I hate it that low-income people can better afford to eat at McDonald's than to eat real food, but I guess that is nothing new.  Back during the depression, when Helen and Scott Nearing left the big city, started their little homestead in Vermont, and wrote a book called The Good Life that later convinced thousands of hippies it was time to "get back to the land", it was for that very reason.  They believed it was much easier to be poor in the country, where you could grow a few veggies and have a few chickens, than it was to be poor in the city.  So, I can understand why the urban poor today have to buy groceries at Walmart and eat at McDonalds.  I just don't understand why the wealthy do it.

In her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver's husband Steven wrote "Most consumers don't realize how much we're already paying for the conventional foods, before we even get to the supermarket.  Our tax dollars subsidize the petroleum used in growing, processing, and shipping these products.  We also pay direct subsidies to the large-scale, chemical-dependent brand of farming.  And we're being forced to pay more each year for the environmental and health costs of that method of food production."  On the other hand, a small farmer who uses organic practices builds rather than depletes.  His methods require extra time and labor, and he bears higher costs for packaging, marketing and distribution.  "But the main difference is that organic growers aren't forcing us to pay expenses they've shifted into other domains, such as environmental and health damage.  As they're allowed to play a larger role in the U.S. agricultural economy, our subsidy costs to industrial agriculture will decrease."

So, next time you are forking out money for doctors and specialists; next time you purchase a passel of pills, tonics and supplements; next time you visit a spa, guru, masseuse, yoga retreat, nutritionist, personal trainer or acupuncturist; next time you sign up for Jenny Craig, eat at a restaurant or purchase food that someone else has prepared for you, ask yourself this: why is it that I am willing to spend so much on all of this, yet I balk at paying a little extra for a piece of grass-fed beef?

Know what I'm gonna say, next time someone tells me that the stuff at TBS is too expensive?  "Put your money where your mouth is!"

P.S.  For those of you who still aren't sure just what TBS is all about, be sure to pick up the spring issue of Edible Austin, due out March 1st!
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5