The good news is that the UN World Food Program recently issued an article stating that they are adopting a strategy to treat malnutrition with "ready-to -use foods" like Plumpy Nut in place of the commidified soy/corn blends that used to be standard food aid. This strategy is similar to one that Doctors Without Borders has been advocating for and spoke to members of the food aid community at their recent nutrition symposium at Columbia University.
Back here at home, the New York Times published a story today on the cost of eating an organic Thanksgiving dinner. Tara Parker Pope estimates that eating an organic meal could cost families $100 more than if they eat non-organic. She uses this list of sample foods and compares the two prices of foods bought at a regular grocery store and at a Whole Foods:
- Turkey (20 pounds) $99.80 vs. $23.80
- Vanilla ice cream (3 quarts) $21.87 vs. $15.98
- Yams (5 lbs.) $9.95 vs. $3.95
- Broccoli (2 lbs.) $5.98 vs. $3.98
- Heavy whipping cream (2 pints) $5.58 vs. $4.00
- 2 cans of pumpkin filling $5.00 vs. $3.19
- 1 bag cranberries $4.99 vs. $2.49
Skip the ice cream and just go for the heavy cream that comes from local grass-fed cows (about $3.00 a pint) and sweeten it with some local honey (unless you keep kosher, skip the cream altogether). Grass-fed dairy is high in vitamins A, D, and especially the essential fatty acid, CLA, a powerful anti-oxidant. You can use that freshly whipped cream to top your home baked pumpkin pie that you made with real pumpkin filling. Forget the "organic" cans. A large pumpkin will cost you about $2.00 and is enough for 2 pies. Cranberries bought loose are cheaper than those in the bag and most other vegetables are cheaper at the farmers market than they are at Whole Foods.
And if they aren't, is the extra cost worth it? Yes!!! You can save money in other ways, but why cut costs with your health? Seth Pollins at Foodvibe makes a case for it here. I would also add that buying local is probably the single most productive way we as individuals can support a more sustainable agricultural system.
Here are some better ways to save your cash this Thanksgiving:
- Cut back on paper products and use cloth napkins and real plates and glasses instead.
- Skip the soda this year and buy flavoured seltzer instead (a real tradition in my family). You can usually find liter bottles at 3 for a $1.00. They taste great, are more hydrating than soda, and who needs all that sugar and aspartame anyway??
- Make homemade egg nog. Mark has a great recipe. I hope he'll be posting it soon (nudge, nudge)!
- Cut back on a dish or two. There's always too much food anyway and you don't want it to be wasted. Stick to 3 or 4 really good wholesome, home-made side dishes that knock everyone's socks off (my favorite: roasted brussel sprouts and chestnuts)!
Wishing everyone a joyous, healthy, and sustainable Thanksgiving!!