Monday, September 13, 2010

The Price of Food

I've been thinking lately about the price of food. How expensive homemade food can be if you don't have access to either land or money. The former of which costs a lot of money, as well. Slowly the world has started to adapt to more local means of eatins farm to city (CSA boxes and the like) but mostly, if you want a good fresh meal, it's going to cost you.

This is where little things, like windowsills and rent-a-gardens come in. For a minimal amount, you can rent little plots to grow your own food within the city. Finding a place on your way to work or other regular ventures (the gym, if you're stronger willed than me) is beneficial to finding the time to go and tend to it, as it may need watered daily in high heats.

I have about 200 mandarins I got two days ago. I juiced over half of them, and am leaving the rest to work on later. All these mandarins came from one tree. I thought about how much this juice costs. Should I have purchased the mandarins in the store, it would have been exceptionally cheaper to just buy pre-packaged juice, even the good kind. Getting it direct off the farm was just getting someone else's glut that would've rotted anyway; however it would've also cost me land to produce myself. Both things are pricey. So something like the most basic, fresh squeezed orange juice, is actually quite an expensive thing to produce. Not everyone can make it for themselves.

Of course if you can start getting to know your local farms, you can start getting a little bit of free excess as well. Usually for the price of some labour or something you have to offer (maybe your backyard has a mango tree) you can get the overstock of another's. It's just going to rot anyway, so the farmer is quite happy to get some stuff done in return for the over-abundance he'll have when entire trees ripen at once. Get to know the farmers at your local markets so you can start asking them when certain things will be in season, then you can start preserving them.

Eating in season feels so good. When your body adjusts to it, it feels 'right'. It feels like your skin is clearer, your mood is higher, your eyes are shinier.. I don't know. It could be because, automatically, eating in season tends to mean a person also eats healthier. (You're not really eating in-season packet chips, are you?) It just feels great to me.

Of course eating things you got in season in another season is awesome, too. Especially if you got yours direct from farm, you'll have preserved it at it's peak so it will taste much better than anything you could've bought, which was probably gassed, had a bunch of funny things added to it, and came from unripe berries and some other fillers that aren't on the label. Plus, with homemade product, you can always make 'twists', such as kiwi and papaya jam, which you could never get in the shops.

So, obviously I feel it's important to think about where your food comes from and how you can save money buying in a more direct manner. Food can be expensive but it doesn't have to be, if you know what you're doing and where you're going and if you're willing to put in a couple hours labour for it. It's totally worth it. If you had spent the money, you'd have never gotten that much plus the hard work makes you feel extremely content and productive for relatively easy work.

I have no point.

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