Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Grand re-opening

I'm back and ready to cook! Actually, I've been cooking quite a bit since returning from India and moving into a new apartment with more counter space. The trip has left me in quite a bit of debt, but I still want to stay true to the food values that I try to stick to: buying locally, eating organically and ethically, and cooking sustainably. This is generally perceived as something that requires a lot of money to do. Just look at a place like Whole Foods ("Whole Paycheck") or New Leaf ("New Thief"): it really can be extremely expensive to do your shopping there. When I looked for sites that gave advice on eating local, seasonal, and organic (LSO) when on a budget, I discovered that there's not a lot out there (apart from this interesting site).

But it doesn't have to be. It shouldn't have to be! And I'm here to show you how to do it.

If you want to eat LSO with limited funds, you have to be willing to not eat certain foods. Meat is a big one. I haven't bought meat in the seven weeks since reacquiring a kitchen because ethically-raised meat is damn pricey. (Ground buffalo goes for $8.50/lb at the farmers' market!) Junk food and convenience foods are also out. You know why Whole Foods is so expensive? It's because they charge an arm and a leg for pre-prepared meals and frozen processed food. If you stick to the perimeter, like you're always hearing you should do, the prices are a little more reasonable. So, really, you can follow a lot of advice for people who are eating a conventional diet on a budget — with just a few tweaks here and there.

To start: Buy store brands of canned or frozen organic foods, such as beans, peas, or corn. (For beans, it's even cheaper to use dried.) Cook in batches and freeze extra portions for lunch or dinner another time. Grow herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, or whatever you have room for. Spend more time thinking about food and cooking it, instead of eating out all the time, eating mindlessly, or being "too busy" to eat well and eat LSO.

Also, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not a food photographer. The whole food porn thing has never really worked for me, since the lighting's always poor, my camera's not fancy enough, and the close-ups are rarely visually satisfying (or out-of-focus). Which isn't to say I'm not going to take photos. I'm just going to go about it in a less traditionally food blogging manner.

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