Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Can't Un-Know What You Know Now

I'm going to have to stop watching documentaries.

Better quit reading books too.

Boys are very interested in what this guy is up to. Best nip that in the bud.

Knowledge is dangerous. Not in the "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" sense, but in that some kinds of knowledge compel change. Inconvenient, question asking, paradigm shifting change.

Awhile ago I became convicted about how I was approaching purchasing our food. Always frugal, I got really interested in couponing. Coupons can be wonderful things-- manufacturers use them to encourage consumers to try products, and they can add up to quite a savings in the checkout line.

Not a thing wrong with that.

But when I go after a thing, I do it with gusto. The problem was never the slip of paper entitling me to 55 cents off a product, it was that cost came to loom larger than almost any other criteria when I selected the foods we'd be eating.

Not a lot of coupons for fresh spinach. Many many coupons are for convenience products, and I found myself in a cycle of buying them. Which was good, in a way, because the time and energy my pursuit of savings took up sure didn't leave much time for scratch cooking. And even though I knew I was bringing home lots of HFCS, sodium and other preservatives, getting two of a filling thing the boys would eat for 40 cents a pop Always. Won. Out.

We're a single income family. In the interest of having both a parent at home full time and a simple life, we've already cut a lot of the extras. We don't have cable or a latte a day habit. But we're starting to look hard at how we spend our food dollar. At local farmers. Asking what our beef has been eating before it comes to our plate. Looking at what changes we can really make.

I feel daunted. A lot will be changing in our kitchen, and maybe on our monthly budget spreadsheet too. But there's also some eagerness there, some excitement about putting our minds and money to what we've been learning. And that beats any lingering nostalgia I have for all I didn't used to know.


  1. I completely get where you are coming from. I am a big couponer but I want to be more of a local organic buyer. Tying both of these things together is daunting. I do have a neighbor who has mastered it well. Planning menus a month at a time and buying all local meats only once of month. Can I be that planned and rigid? Time will tell...

    I always read your blog but don't take the time to comment. :)Virtually keeping up with your precious family...

    BTW...I refuse to watch Food Inc or read those type books. Not because my head is in the sand but because I know how I am. I tend to go a little overboard...

    Kelly W.

  2. I am totally with you. A while back I read "In Defense of Food," and went crazy talking my husband's head off about food, marketing, advertising, food production, etc. Then I decided to go all organic. Turns out, it was incredibly cost-prohibitive. So now I try to focus on the dirty dozen -- and cut myself a bit of slack if I don't make it to the healthfood store every week (the grocery store I shop at in Nebraska has a poor choice of organics, so I go to a separate store for the organic veggies...but that's not always possible during my hectic weeks).

    Thanks for stopping by my blog...I laughed about your comment of your boys playing in red clay!

  3. Missy,

    i've been working on this for probably 5 years now. it takes a looong time to figure out what works for your family and to readjust your thinking. so, my advice: be really forgiving with yourself. change one thing at a time, dump the guilt, go slow. and email me and we can chat about it if you want! :)