Mmmm. Look at those delicious strawberries front and center. Everything in the picture is local except for maybe the yogurt, (I didn't really pay close attention since I'm planning on making my own and just using this as a starter) possibly the cheese, (I was told it came from the base of Mt Mojave so I assumed it was local, but I can't find Mt Mojave on a map anywhere, so who knows), and uh, definitely the cereal.
Right. Now you may be wondering. Why, when she could make her own granola, or oatmeal, or any number of other delicious options, does Arduous buy non local, packaged General Mills cereal that tastes like twigs?
Well, here's the thing. Much as I hate Fiber One, and would love to give it up and eat homemade granola every day, eating Fiber One has caused my cholesterol to drop 40 points. Because I'm at high risk for heart disease, this is something I'm just not willing to mess with. But hey, I'm guessing cholesterol drugs aren't local either, so at least the Fiber One is keeping me off those, right?
I didn't keep track of how much I spent, but I should have. My estimate, based on how much I had in my wallet then, and how much I have in my wallet now, is that I ended up spending about $60. Which isn't horrifying, but it IS almost double my usual weekly grocery bill.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, especially when you think about cost per calorie. I got two pounds of snow peas for ten dollars. Mind you, these snow peas are maybe the best snow peas I have ever eaten. As a privileged, middle-class childless American, I consider $10 for amazing snow peas well worth it.
But I understand that $10 snow peas aren't in everyone's budget. I mean for $10 you can get 11 McDonald's hamburgers. Or two foot long Subway sandwiches. If we're talking caloric bang for your buck, well farmer's market snow peas just can't compete.
Barbara Kingsolver writes that good food should cost money. And I understand where she's coming from. She knows, first hand, how much labor went into those snow peas. I get it. And yes, as many people like to point out, Americans spend a much smaller percentage of their income on food than we did 30 years ago.
All very well and good. But let's take a look at housing costs, shall we. Or college tuition. It's not really fair to expect us to spend a ton of money on food when 55% of Angelenos are spending over 30% of their income on housing.
Could I afford fresh fruits and vegetables if I had a baby to feed? It's a tough question. I make a decent amount of money. I don't spend my money on unnecessary stuff. I have a fantastic deal on rent, which means that I only spend 27% of my monthly income on housing. And yet, if I had another mouth to feed, I'm not absolutely sure I could afford snow peas.
Should farmers be paid more given the work they do? Absolutely. But should Americans have to pay more for produce? I can't conscionably say yes.