I have very strong memories of accompanying my grandmother to the market in Germany. I believe it was Wednesdays and Saturdays, and though everything there was fresh and local I couldn’t tell you if “organic” was even a term on the radar yet. Possibly my favorite memories from that time are of rainy days, when all the fruits and vegetables smelled just that much more fresh. And let’s not forget the egg lady, who always gave me two “Nimm 2” candies. Today, of course, I question the logic behind combining sugar and isolated vitamins, but darn those things were (are) good. They were the original “Wonderbread” or Coke with vitamins. The closest we got to “Nimm2” today was the honey man who offered us some honey pollen: far healthier, but definitely an acquired taste.
At any rate, there is a local farmer’s market here in Phoenix that meets Wednesdays in the same shopping center as my Trader Joe’s. It seems a match made in heaven, though I rarely buy much there because organic produce is so much more expensive. Lately I’ve been questioning whether I couldn’t possibly economize in other areas and spend that on buying higher quality meats and produce. We shall see where it goes, but for now I think I’ll give myself a weekly “farmer’s market” budget of perhaps $20. That can be spent on delicious, local, organic produce, whereas the remainder of our food money can go to the usual hodgepodge of foodstuffs.
I am astonished to see real moms who feed families larger than our wee one on food budgets smaller than ours. Granted, our monthly money also includes alcohol, household supplies, diapers, etc – so I’d have to extrapolate how much of it actually goes to food. Add into that the “gluten free” factor in which gluten free products (like pasta) and flours (and hence, breads) are far more expensive. And as if all that weren’t enough, we entertain quite a bit – which bumps up the food and booze costs. Regardless, I’m sure we spend more than this mama does for her family of men – and she buys the grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, etc, that I can only dream of. Following the market, I stopped off at Trader Joe’s, where I stood pondering for a bit whether I should purchase a carton with four organic Roma tomatoes for $2.99 or a carton with five non-organic Roma tomatoes for $1.99. Some time ago, this would have been a no-brainer. I would have passed up both in favor of the Roma tomatoes on sale at Sprouts for $.77/lb. Now, though … I am increasingly unsure. For the record, I bought the organic ones today … and felt very proud of myself for doing so as I chopped two of them up for our meal tonight, until I realized that I had just chopped up $1.50 of tomatoes.
My son’s “B is for Bear” book has a page that reads “V is for Vegetables … Which ones should I buy?” Perhaps a more relevant question than the book’s author (who needed something to rhyme with “U is for Umbrella, for keeping you dry.”) intended.