Cost vs. Locavore Ethics?

I’m quaking in my boots after listening to a couple of weeks’ worth of NPR’s Planet Money. Maybe we aren’t headed for a new Great Depression, but we are very likely to have a year or more of deep recession. I have been saving a lot of money by cooking at home and basing meals around the produce from my CSA subscription and farmers markets. It is a whole new lifestyle where I’m not stopping at the grocery store or restaurant every night to pick up something for dinner. While the items I buy at the farmers market cost more than similar items in a discount grocery, the overall savings have been huge.

Tom Turkey at Maysara WineryBut what to do about the turkey? I priced locally grown, organically fed turkey at Fred Meyer. It was over $3 a pound, so my bird would have been $45. For that, you basically get the same turkey that has been genetically engineered for decades, but fed stuff that might be more ethically acceptable. These are not true wild, free-range turkeys. Barbara Kingsolver covered that well in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” Today’s turkeys have even forgotten how to breed or hatch their own eggs. I suppose the right answer would be to have something different for Thanksgiving, like a true free-grazing local chicken.
Here is an actual pastured turkey grazing at Maysara Winery. Photo © Wendy Bumgardner.

But once a year, I want our own turkey and stuffing. I went to Winco, a local discount grocery store chain, to stock up on basics. It had been at least two months since I had driven there, mostly I’ve been walking the mile there and back and just buying a couple of carryable items. The fresh robo-turkeys were 98 cents a pound. But the big deal was with the frozen turkeys – they were only 22 cents a pound if you bought $50 or more. A 20-pound turkey would be under $5. My decision was made. $45 or $5. Unless I truly believed that non-organic feed was going to kill me, it’s not a contest. I think a 20-pound tofurkey would cost a lot more than $5.

I left Winco with a cart load of basic items that will allow me to cook for the next two months. Chicken broth, frozen and canned vegetables, etc. The total cost was under $100. Yesterday, I spent $32 on handmade pasta at the farmers market that will last 5 meals but could have cost me $5 or less. I pick and choose my local food expenses. I really believe the handmade pasta tastes better, and that is the big difference.

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