Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eating Locally: Is it Worth It?

Dear all,

I admit, when I decided to concentrate on eating as exclusively as I could from my community, I had my doubts about the economics of it.  Extoll the virtues of edible vitamins now, fewer doctor visits later all you want---the fact of the matter is, I'm a grad student and I've got a finite budget.  I got curious.  So every week, after my market visit, I totaled up how much I'd spent, where I bought from, and any free or discounted items I received.  I also saved my receipts from any grocery or alcohol purchase (just keeping myself honest here).

Well, today marks the beginning of a new market calendar year, so yeah, while I should be studying Secured Transactions, I'm totaling up my own.  Here are the basic results.  Might do something more comprehensive later.

Market Expenditures, April 2009-October 2009

Grocery Expenditures, April 2009-April 2010


Minus the one month I spent at my parents' house in Florida, where my meals were provided for me, that works out to roughly $93.41 per month, $23.35 per week, $3.34 per day, or $1.11 per meal.  For one year.  Granted, my diet is mostly vegetarian and I was tossed a few aforementioned free* or discounted** items.  But that ain't bad.  I know someone who pays more than that for frozen Banquet dinners at Walgreens.

All in all, I'm happy to say that it was worth it for me.  Others may disagree, and say that the time it takes to cook raw ingredients is time better spent on more productive pursuits.  But cooking can be a leisure activity far more satisfying than television (at least, it is for me), a form of therapy, and a stress relief.  Maybe I could have worked more during the hours I spent cooking.  But I'm a happier person because I didn't.  And I don't really think you can put a value on that.

*free items included: bunch radishes, handful green beans, 3 new potatoes, head of lettuce, 1 pear, loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, 1 globe eggplant, 4 ears corn, 1 zucchini, 1 bunch bok choy.  We have incredibly generous farmers in our region.  I also grew some of my own food and was supplemented by the free edible garden at the University of Memphis (another extremely valuable resource).
**discounts for the season totaled $6.84


  1. This might be a "duh" question, but does your market close in October? Kudos, by the way, on having made a so thoughtfully rendered, resourceful blog. I have learned quite a lot, though mostly about types of veggies I otherwise wouldn't know existed.

  2. Aaron--thanks for still reading! I'm glad it's at least somewhat resourceful. Yes, our markets up here close in October, although some individual farmers come to restaurants throughout the winter to sell greens and sweet potatoes and the like. Not like Florida, where, say, Hunsader's out on CR 675 is only open in the winter!