Is Healthy Eating for the privileged?
|August 24, 2012||Posted by under Gardening, General Content & Rants, Groceries|
I’ve had this ongoing debate with friends and family regarding food choices. Initially, some people accused me of being privileged as my partner and I spend a lot of money on good food.
What do I mean by good food?
*Organic and/or local (in season ONLY!)
*Little to no processed food (if processed, I generally buy organic with no chemical preservatives)
*Pre-made foods from local businesses – sans preservatives
I get upset when people point the finger at me, telling me that people on a tight budget can’t eat like I do. But they can.
I admit, I spend more on food than some people as I treat myself to some luxuries such as handmade chocolates and stuffed grapeleaves. However, I will tell you how you can eat very healthy on a tight budget.
These days, most people spend more money on ridiculous things such as high-end cellphones with $100/month cellphone plans, gas guzzling cars, cable tv, Fibre optic internet, buying booze, coffee daily or cigarettes…need I go on?
I don’t have cable or even a television (going on 8 years now). My cellphone plan costs $38/month. I have basic internet which is slower than some, but good enough for me. Eating well is a priority for me, so I cut corners elsewhere so I can make it work. I value my health!
The key is making healthy food a priority in your life.
Also, when you eat whole foods and avoid processed at all costs, you need less food. You eat less. You feel better. You look better. I’ve said this before in a few other posts.
Yes, you will spend more on buying some of those foods but the end results will be unbelievable. You just need to cut corners elsewhere so you can make it work. But you must put quality food at the top of your priority list.
My mother couldn’t believe the difference in my skin this past year. She looked at me recently after not seeing me for 5 months and said that my skin looked completely flawless. The skin on my body is so soft now, that I don’t even need to use lotion on it anymore. My hair has become a lot healthier and my nails are not breaking anymore. All the result of eating local, seasonal, processed-free and mostly organic.
Also, I am never sick! I don’t even take Tylenol, any type of pill or cough medicine…nothing. There is nothing in my medicine cabinet. I treat my ailments with healthy food, sleep and herbal tea, just like in the old days. If I start feeling under the weather, I nip it in the bud with nutrient rich foods & rest. It always works. Have a headache? You may be dehydrated. Upset stomach? You ate something your body didn’t want, find out what it is. Treat the aches with fresh ginger tea!
I have been eating mostly vegan for about a decade now, but upped the quality of my food this past year and am actually surprised as to how much has changed in just under a year. I thought being vegan worked miracles for me but upping the quality of my foods was even more incredible.
I don’t even eat chocolate anymore unless it’s handmade and dark. I’m getting back to the roots of what REAL eating is, how I used to eat as a child in the 70′s when processed food was minimal.
Please don’t view this type of eating as some fad or radical new age diet. It’s not. This kind of eating is very basic, the way it used to be way-back-when before industrialization exploded & before corporations were pumping out cheap and low quality chemical infused processed foods. Also, before animals were injected with hormones and fed candy as feed because corn was getting too expensive. Yikes.
There are way too many people out there obsessing about cutting out sugar, wheat and other supposed “bad” foods. You can eat almost anything you want but in moderation. Caffeine, sugar, wheat…none of them are bad for you in small quantities. Removing them from your diet entirely isn’t necessary, there is no need.
How can you eat well if you are truly on a tight budget and have already tightened your belt in other areas?
There is also the reality of those who do not have the $100 cellphone bills, speedy internet & cable; Those who have already cut as much as possible to be able to survive. This is a reality, those people exist and although it is more challenging to eat like this when you are legitimately strapped for cash, there are ways to tackle it.
But you will need time and make that time. If it’s important to you, you will have to put a little work into it. I struggle too when I am busy but I do it because it’s important to me. The last thing I want to do, is run to a fast food joint to get food because I am too tired to prepare something healthy.
Here are some suggestions on how to eat very healthy on a tight budget: (I’ve also mentioned many of these suggestions in previous posts)
- A local farm here provides small bags of mixed organic veggies for $5. These veggies could last the week for one person. There were beans, potatoes and carrots. You can use the scraps/peelings of these veggies to make a veggie broth and use this to make soup.
-Tofu! .I can buy 1/2 lb of local organic tofu for $2.50 (for the record, the cheap stuff at the grocery store must be avoided at all costs!). This amount is enough for two meals.
-If you eat seasonally, local veggies are not expensive. It’s ok if you can’t buy organic but buy local. If you stick to eating seasonally, you will spend a lot less. During corn season, I can buy a dozen for $3! Just don’t buy strawberries in January!
-Buy from the Amish. They use farming practices from 100 years ago. One of the vendors explained that he keeps bugs out of corn with vegetable oil and garlic! Their veggies are pesticide free, always. Just because a vendor doesn’t have an organic certificate, it doesn’t mean they don’t sell organic produce. Many smaller vendors have told me that getting certified is too expensive. Look into it.
-When buying in season, preserve these foods so you can enjoy the nutrients and taste off-season! I make fresh canned salsa, tomato sauce with basil and jams so I can eat local and fresh year round. I will be making some homemade plum sauce and freezing it for future use. I want to preserve as much as possible during harvest time, so I can enjoy some of these lovely foods in the winter. Winter is tough for me, by the time March comes around, I am so tired of carrots, onions and cabbage!
- Homemade Soups & Stews are nutrient rich and dirt cheap to make. Use the veggie broth you made from your scraps and peelings. Throw in a handful of lentils, fresh spinach and a few chopped tomatoes with herbs and you have an iron and protein rich soup. My mom lives off of soups. She loves them and makes a big pot and freezes the leftovers in individual portions for later consumption.
- Grow herbs on your balcony or windowsill. I dislike gardening, it’s no secret. But I bought a fully grown basil plant for $3 and planted it in my yard. I use it weekly for my tomato sauce. I will be doing a lot of balcony gardening in my loft in Toronto though!
-Buy dried beans and legumes. These need not be organic if you can’t swing it. Even just buying them bulk and cooking them from scratch is better and cheaper than the canned stuff and you won’t be ingesting that extra sodium either. Making hummus is wonderful and can even be frozen! Red pepper hummus gives you a boost of vitamin C. Cucumber/Hummus sandwiches or wraps are so tasty.
-Buy Day old bread from a bakery. There is nothing worse than breads like WonderBread. Don’t do it! Go to a local bakery which uses fresh ingredients and buy day olds. I can buy a lovely day old multi-grain bread for about $2. If you want to make your own, this recipe is really easy!
-Make your own nut & soy milks. Click here to find out how easy it is. I used to do this a lot when I was baking a lot more and drinking it more regularly. Now, my discount store sells organic soy milk for $1 and I use this but will be making my own again in the future, especially when I start eating oats again for breakfast this fall.
-Join a community garden or create a balcony garden – This requires more work but balcony gardening is easier than yard gardening. I Know I will be doing it when I am out of my house and in my loft. Perhaps get a friend to help you and share the produce with them if you’d prefer not tackling it alone. Growing your own food is awesome! I am definitely going to try to do this more in the future when I move to a big city.
- Shop at farmer’s markets right before closing time – Farmers want to get rid of their produce before the end of the day. Go 15 minutes before closing and see if you can score some good deals. I’ve done this before myself. They’d rather sell it for cheap than lug it back to the farm or throw it out.
-Check out a Food Not Bombs in your area - FNB is volunteer run. They received donations which include local produce/foods from farmers and health food stores which are almost expired and make some wicked vegan food to feed the public for free. In my area, they also put out boxes of produce, breads and other vegan foods to take, also free!
- Cook from scratch - This is no surprise but cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients is not only better but less expensive. Check out these farmers market recipes: From Farm to Table: Farmers’ Markets
GOOD LUCK AND EAT WELL!