If any of you buy organic/natural foods you know that the cost of it is sometimes 2-3 times the price of conventional food if not more. We started on our organic kick when Cerys was born and it was kind of upsetting to compare prices of conventional food to organic food. Before I met Dave I lived a very thrifty life. Amy Dacyczyn's book The Tightwad Gazette II was my favorite book for living on a budget. I was really frugal from the food I purchased to the electricity I used in my home. My electric bill was $18.00 nearly every month. I did have a wood stove and the firewood I burned was sort of free. I had to cut it up myself with a chainsaw which I so did not enjoy. (Note-don't try that one at home) Can't they make chain saw pants in any other color besides neon orange? Looking back I was a bit silly in my frugality. I froze in that house and spent most of my winter inside the house dressed for the outside. But I was darn proud of that electric bill. I didn't eat very naturally then and spent a lot of time at the Canned Food Store following the advice of Amy and her books. I never did go for her suggestion to buy .5 cent mystery cans that lost their labels. That took it a bit too far for me. I like to get to know my canned foods before making a commitment to buy.
When we started eating organic I just simply had to avoid the aisles with tins of beans for 9 pence each. Organics were many times that price but I knew that this is what our family should be eating. What really influenced shifting toward a healthier diet was the book Nontoxic, Natural and Earthwise. It is written by Debra Lynn Dadd and when I started reading it my eyes opened wide to how our food is produced. I hope I am not sounding as if I am trying to preach. I know we each do what feels good for our body and for our families and that is the important thing. Personally though, reading this book inspired me to want to make a change for our family. I read her book nightly during my healing lavender baths in the weeks following Cerys's birth. I read every page of that book and tried to tell Dave in a far too excited voice about what I had learned. He took quite a bit of convincing though but our path toward eating organic did happen, just at a slow rate. Sometimes I had to sneak it in the house.
When we moved to Virginia our natural parenting group joined together to create a food co-op group.
Food Co-ops can be stores that are usually non-profit or they can be like a buying club among friends or neighbors. I loved our buying club in VA. We would get together once a month and while our children played together, we would unload our boxes from a large truck and then start splitting our orders up. It was such a great way to build community. We took turns looking after the children, splitting food and carrying boxes. We would all bring some food and share a potluck together. It felt like just old fashion fun and it saved us a lot of money.
When I moved to the Seattle area, I found another local buying club to join. A benefit of joining a buying club is being able to buy food at a discount. It is kind of like Costco in a way without the drive or the big tv's calling my name to buy them. (we have a sad old tv that isn't listening to my pleas to break so we can mortgage our house and buy a flat panel or screen tv)
This is the size of the truck that comes to our house. I am occasionally one of the drop-offs for our group of which we have anywhere from 5-10 people ordering each month. We buy through Azure (everyone pronounces it differently but give it your best guess) and they deliver to these areas. They are based in Oregon and are so friendly to work with. What I like about them is that you can order on the website and pay by credit card. In VA we had to get a separate checking account for our club and it was just a little more complicated.
October's order. We can order so many different foods and products. We buy our organic chicken feed for $15.00 a large bag, 25# organic brown jasmine rice for $40.00 (which sounds expensive but it is far cheaper than buying it at the store in a small quantity), organic raw cheese 2# for $12.50, olives, juice, a box of organic apples for $18.00 and so much more. Again, if you are comparing these prices to conventional food they will seem outrageously high but in all actuality they are much more reasonable than the grocery store for natural food. We do a majority of our shopping through Azure.
Here's our personal order for the month. I bought a case of the bagels in the back but the rest is already in the freezer. They are gluten free with onions and while they don't taste as good as the real thing, they are so delicious substitution. Remember that I mentioned something about being a sugar addict yesterday? Well, I'm much better than I used to be but when I get the sweet tooth I love to eat Newman's Own Peanut Butter Cups. They don't compare to their predecessor Reece's but they still quench that hunger for a peanut butter cup.
Our food bill is still far more expensive than we would like. Some days I get down about the price of food and wonder if it is worth it. But then I think of this movie and I realize it probably is. I would like to move to being more self-sufficient. I have dreams of growing most of our fruit and vegetables, canning, freezing, making foods from scratch and creating a permaculture homestead. I think I need to add that those to the top of my next dream list.