In the past few posts we’ve covered a lot of ground:
-the high cost of good, fresh, local food versus the high cost of junk food masquerading as good food
-the money we waste on processed supermarket food that we think is healthy and safe, and the waste involved in packaging supermarket and takeout food
-spending three dollars on a dozen eggs (it was actually $3.75 for a half dozen at Lily’s Egg stand this weekend, to my first point)
The argument to spend more on local, wholesome foods now seems particularly appropriate, given that the recent egg recall has risen now to a half billion eggs and more than a thousand cases of salmonella. While the FDA tries to figure out the cause (could take months, they say), it has become public knowledge that the two farms involved in the recall share ties to a supplier who has already had frequent citations for violating state and federal law.
"Boy, do I have egg on my face," the FDA seemed to say...
Are you starting to wonder where the FDA or USDA was? Are you also starting to wonder why your grocery store in California stocks eggs from Iowa? Or are you wondering how a twenty-something blogger in the non-profit world with car payments manages to eat enough good, fresh, local food to write about it several times a week (I’m currently accepting donations, especially if you bake, by the way)?
So here’s the connection and the conundrum: How does one get a healthy full belly on a budget? Well, here’s my big secret, friends:
Yes, in addition to poorly-typed letters from Mom, Facebook friend requests from people I barely knew in high school and “Boycott Monsanto” petitions from the Organic Consumers Association, my inbox is choc full of covert ways to dine on a dime in the city. So here’s something I’m really good at-spilling the beans. For all my fellow broke foodies out deciding between making that student loan payment on time and resorting to another box of Ramen or being locally well-fed, here is your tool box:
Sign up for email discounts. There are countless mailing lists devoted to restaurant deals in your area. Preferdine and Blackboard Eats are two examples, but many other email discount programs exist. Living Social and Groupon both frequently feature food deals-be it on cooking classes or cocktails. Plus, signing up for other event related, L.A.-oriented emails usually gets you the skinny on upcoming food events, try Daily Candy if you want to hear about fru fru bake shops, try The Rundown if you’d rather hear about beerfest (I will admit-not really a whole lot of great deals out of these two, but good info on great spots). Follow food related people on social networking sites-use Twitter to track your food trucks for example.
Happy hour menu? Check.
Beyond that, here are the no-brainers. Cook at home and bring your lunch. Freeze your leftovers. For some reason the practice of swapping unwanted food came to a halt following elementary school. Sick of your leftover chili? Maybe your co-worker will take them in return for his/her leftover meatloaf. When you go out to eat, take home the leftovers (I can’t believe it when people don’t do this). Also, always ask if there is a happy hour menu before you order.
Cooking-it's not just for the microwave!
Use your resources-find out about eligibility for WIC and their Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Some farmers’ markets also except EBT cards (and some offer senior citizen discounts too). Check out Network for a Healthy California for other information. Don’t have time to go to a farmers’ market? It doesn’t mean that you’re destined for a drive-thru. Check out some community supported agriculture (CSA) programs and see if they deliver to a location near you.