Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's a Mother to Do?

I just finished reading this book and it has brought a dilemma I've considered before to the fore front. Dr. Waltner-Toews's premise (and it's a good one) is that that rise of agribusiness has made our food supply less safe than they would have us believe. He proposes a return to locally grown food (organic if possible) and we're inclined to agree.

So what's the problem? Well, recently we've cut our food budget significantly (or at least we're trying to cut our food budget). For a while we ate all organic and locally grown foods and our budget exploded to over $800 a month! Well, that just wasn't sustainable when we knew I was going to quit working eventually. This realization was part of the push to move out here to the Range where we can grow our own food. Until our garden is up and running (and actually producing at a family of five level), we're left with the supermarket and a slashed budget. So, I'm one of those shoppers (or Kansas Dad is, with my list) seeking out food for the lowest possible price. Dr. Waltner-Toews points out that the search for the lowest price here in North America leads to much devastation (on people and land) in other countries.

The battleground of agribusiness is in our shopping cart. Do I focus on the lowest price for our food, giving us some greater cash flow to build up our own farm? Do I avoid pesticides now for the benefit of our family and those families growing the food (if I can trust the labels, of course) or do I allow pesticides (and GMOs, oh my!) now in the hopes we'll avoid them later when we grow our own? How much should I pay to ease the environmental burden in other states and countries?

I just don't know. Right at this moment, we're leaning more on the cheap side as we're paying for much needed repairs on this house and land. Later on, we'll want to invest in our own garden. It's harsh to think we might do that at the expense of others, but it's seems to lead to less damage in the long run as we're able to feed ourselves more in the future.

It's a dilemma.


  1. Isn't it frustrating? What I really wish is that I could afford organic milk. C'est la vie. Hopefully, we'll have a garden in next year and a freezer downstairs!

  2. I wish there were an easy answer but there isn't, the problem goes too far back and frankly the government has made it very expensive for us to compete. Maybe next year we could swap labor and create sustainable gardens at both homesteads :) In the mean time as a raw milk producer we sell our milk at the same price as the grocery to compete, the same is true for the pork and beef. That means in the long run we make very little but we feel good knowing that we have a quality product. Most people just can't afford to do all organic as the government has invested too much in the the crap appearing on our supermarket shelves. :(

  3. Hi Aubrey. Thanks for stopping by. We do buy some organic milk. I like to drink it myself since my youngest is still exclusively nursing and I like to believe she's getting as pure a food as possible. Going through four+ gallons of milk a week, though, we have to buy mostly conventional.

    Janelle, the more I read your blog, the more I want our own milk cow. I used to think it was years and years I'm not so sure!

  4. I got excited this afternoon because a green newsletter I receive had an article about frugal green (if there is such a thing). Well, the article was mostly useless. Probably the best advice was reduce meat consumption (have you cooked with quinoa?) On the off chance any of this is helpful, here ya go:'whole-paycheck'/2I3K8OUY34RNY2NAVY9BKWXI2U9S


Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!