Saturday, July 31, 2010

Food and Money; Wealth and Poverty

Household budgeting and resource management are universal tasks ripe for discussion and swapping of ideas and tips...and yet actual dollars and cents remain such a personal topic that addressing family finances can be a bit touchy.

It's been interesting to me to search anonymous posts online and read what others around the country spend on food. It ranges incredibly. By geography, by eating habits, by choices in quality, brands, certification, source, etc., etc. (See here for one quick array of monthly averages.)

The chore is to feed ourselves (well. health-fully. responsibly.) .

The privilege is to enjoy the food we eat (flavor. color. seasonality. and the company we share with around the table.).

The responsibility is to be good stewards (of time. earth and animals. our bodies. of funds.).

Perhaps the balance in food finances may be found where "enough" meets "joy." Where the food on the table feeds without harming and prompts gratefulness for our blessings. Where we've allocated resources wisely and have, at whatever level of spending, made the most of what's been given us to steward. I'm still learning so much about wisely using what we've been given...

And yet, it's easy to say these things when we have enough money to purchase the food we need. And easy enough to send off a check for a community garden plot. And no real trouble to run to the store and buy Pomona's Pectin and fresh canning lids to use with our CSA berries and local jam.

But what about those with less resources? How are healthful foods to be available to all?
Inequities of the world come up in conversation a lot in our home. And it's a place of tension to continue exploring the truth.

I've heard many argue that "local"/"sustainable"/"slow"/"trendy-fill-in-the-blank" foods are for the elite. For the wealthy. And while I agree that it's much easier to rely on money to buy a quick path to a "greener" plate, I've been encouraged to see resources and stories popping up in many places illustrating the possibilities of eating well from a trim pocketbook and serving our neighbors well from a caring heart.

The Nourished Kitchen's Food Stamp Challenge & 10 Meals under $10

The $60/Week Project

And this man's effort to eat on $30 for 30 Days to bring awareness to the plight of the world's poor. (See his budget here!)

How can we also help bear the burden of our fellow neighbors? How can we teach them, share with them, learn from them? Convicting and inspiring stories abound:

In the absence of federal dollars, a Colorado community gathered together to privately sponsor $80-$100 in farmers market vouchers for local recipients of the government's WIC (Women Infants Children) program to allow them to purchase farm-fresh dairy products, vegetables, and whole grains to supplement the WIC-eligible boxed, plastic-wrapped, factory-formed foods available at the grocery store. (See this interesting article on Food System and Public Health Disparities)

In this PBS news report about Food Deserts in the Mississippi Delta, there is an encouraging bit at the end about the local Churches that are tending community gardens to feed their low-income congregations. Says the pastor's wife at New Mount Zion Baptist Church:

We don't just grow vegetables for ourselves...We grow enough vegetables to feed the entire congregation, especially the elderly. We have a healthier congregation initiative. We have partnered with other congregations in the community. We feel we're growing a community garden. That's on a larger scale. It's not going to change it overnight, but I think, if we're consistent, and we do it collectively and collaboratively, then I think we can make a difference."

My friend, Bekah, sent me a link to this blog post with me a while back... A good reminder about starting somewhere.

So how do we plan and spend wisely? How do we serve and share and learn wisely? As always, more food for thought than can be digested in one sitting... If you're free on the 4th, come join the food group for conversation. Looking forward to it...

"He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed;
for he giveth of his bread to the poor." (Proverbs 22:9)

"Give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me." (Proverbs 30:8)


Food Group Reunion ~ August 4th

After a long hiatus, Food Group is reconvening for a summertime reunion at Bethany's home on Wednesday, August 4th 6:30-8:30pm.

As always, feel free to bring a friend, bring something to eat, bring a story about your food-life, or just bring yourself and enjoy the good company and conversation...

No book discussion this time...just a nice catch-up. We may spend some time talking about household food budgeting tips and methods...if you have your own resources and ideas, please come and share! We love learning from each other.

~ Send a note if you need the address. Beverages and music provided :)


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