Going Organic without Going Broke: a book review and meditation
Linda Watson has written a thoughtful book whose title says it all: “Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet. All on $5. a Day or Less“. Really? My question is this. Do you have to go totally vegetarian to pull this off? Hmm. If you have experience with this, let me hear from you.
This new book which crossed my desk last week: Wildly Affordable Organic, Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet. All on $5. A Day or Less., by Linda Watson, the founder of “Cook for Good”. DaCapo LifeLong Books was certainly welcome to me.
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to love it. In fact, I’ve been nagged for a long time about the seeming “truth”, that to eat organic, meant to give over your life and life savings to Whole Foods, et al.
I am also acutely aware of the fact that if we don’t scale up the organic food offerings to meet the needs of most diners, then it becomes little but an exercise in Marie Antoinette thinking.
“Let them eat cake”, was Ms. Marie’s suggestion to the starving people of Paris during the French Revolution. When you consider that we have a large and growing population of people who are “food insecure” for at least part of the month, it would seem that the cognoscenti (including myself) may be making food recommendations to a well-heeled few. This is not a good place to be.
Now food insecure is just a bureaucrat’s way of saying hungry. If the stats are to be believed, a whopping 32 million adults and 16 million children lived in “food insecure households” in 2010. From “Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Security” by www.feedingamerica.org. this means they went to bed hungry at least some nights during the month.
It’s important to understand that food insecurity isn’t synonymous with poverty. More often, it is synonymous with people who lose their jobs, and therefore begin to depend upon public assistance to get through the month. SNAP, the federal food stamp program has risen sharply during this time.
Linda Watson, who wrote Wildly Affordable Organic began her project by living on a food stamp allotment for an entire summer after reading Michael Pollan’s work.
She found what is often found. The poor, who have little money to spare, often spend more than their deeper pocketed relations. How is that? Foods bought in small volume, often cost more on a per serving basis.
So there’s your Costco world view, eh? People who live in so-called food deserts, who have no car, and who have such a small disposable income, can often not take advantage of buying in bulk, or stocking up.
So Linda Watson took on this challenge and the book is her answer to the question. Can you eat well on a small budget? Yes, is the answer.
However, I can’t really agree with many of Linda’s suggestions. She recommends eating peanut butter on toast with tea for breakfast. Oh puhleeze. Oatmeal, or a couple eggs cooked any way you want them provide a much more nutritious base for the day, and at about the same price.
My daughter, who has ravenous 14 year old twins feeds those kids eggs every day, in one form or another. Today it’s boiled, tomorrow it’s in crepes which are mostly egg, then she folds in cheese and/or vegetables. These kids never suffer that late morning crash that comes to people who eat inadequate protein for breakfast.
If Watson’s book has a fatal flaw from my point of view, it’s too much sugar and overly processed carbs. Spare me all that flour and sugar. Even if you are making chocolate pudding at home, it’s still pudding, and none too healthy. This is a problem I find with most vegetarian regimens from American cooks.
Americans just seem to have to have that sugar fix. And the idea of eating a sensible whole grain, like rolled oats, just doesn’t hack it unless that hot cereal is drowned in sugar. Adding whole berries to a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal, along with cream, is not only nutrient dense, but it is flavorful. Without any sugar. Honest.
This isn’t to say there aren’t healthy vegetarian plans. My friend, Parvathy, a high Brahmin Hindu is a dedicated vegetarian, and I find her food both delicious and healthy. And she never even looks at white flour or sugar. Never.
But back to my daughter. She also gives the teenagers full fat milk to drink. None of that blue john stuff for these kids. They get 4% milk for satisfaction and for maximum brain development. They’re both in honors classes so something must be working.
But in the main, Mz. Watson’s recommendations are sound. Eat seasonally, use lots of dry beans, buy fresh, organic produce at the farmer’s market based on its being at the peak of the harvest and at its lowest cost.
I do not recommend being a vegetarian, which Mz. Watson is. But that’s just my own personal belief (backed up by some pretty solid science).
However, all that said, I still recommend my own book, Feed Your Family Fast Healthy Meals on $10. A day. I wrote this book in 1993, and while the numbers may be a little low, the principles are still valid. And you can buy it used from Amazon for as little as 13 cents + shipping.
I didn’t really mean this to be a plug for my own book, but I do say, that eating healthy food on a reasonable budget is always a good idea.Pin It