Monday, January 11, 2010
A friend posted a comment the other day about my new project, and about how doing it at Whole Foods makes the project Not Useful for the average shopper.
I posted my reply, and he responded with a somewhat biting character attack.
As he stated in his comment, my friend believed that my point was to show people that “eating ‘differently’ was not only possible but could be done practically and without much effort or money.”
For the record, this is not actually my point.
My point is that one can eat a very nutritious diet for not very much money, shopping even at what is perceived to be a very expensive grocery store.
My average annual grocery bill is around $1,000. Whenever I tell people that, they say, “What do you eat?” And I never have a good answer.
This project is an attempt to answer that question.
The other key point of the project is to try to find some recipes for dishes with whole grains and vegetables that are inexpensive and good, and to try to make myself eat better for the next few months. Nothing like posting information on the internet to provide a little motivation.
In terms of trying to show people that eating “differently” can be done “practically and without much effort or money,” there’s an interesting article from the Tightwad Gazette called “The Not-So-Simple Life,” where Amy Dacyczyn discusses the paradoxes inherent in the “voluntary simplicity” movement. It’s on page 768 of The Complete Tightwad Gazette and is worth reading.
Basically she talks about how living a more “simple” life isn’t always that simple, and how many of the strategies required for transitioning to a simple life can be rather complex. She said that many people she talked to are frustrated by this:
“People are attracted to simple answers because they want to skip crucial steps that require brainwork. But real brainwork is required to become an excellent shopper and do-it-yourselfer.”
There may be simple strategies that will allow you to effortlessly cut your grocery bill and eat better at the same time, but I can’t promise that I’m going to write about them.
The way I shop, cook, and eat is so different from how most people shop, cook, and eat that it’s very difficult for me to know what will be simple for others and what will be complicated. It’s also very difficult for me to know what will be Useful and what will be Not Useful.
The only thing I can do is tell you what I bought and ate, give recipes for what I cooked, and tell you how much it cost. If that helps people to figure out things that work for their life, that’s great. If not, there are scads of people all over the internet writing about food and money, and you likely can find something more useful somewhere else.
In terms of simplicity versus complexity, I’ll end with FZ’s analogy that she gave to the TV producer who was trying to decide if she would be a good person to have on the show with the “simplicity authors:”
“Remember when you learned to ride a bike? That wasn’t so simple. In fact, if I had to explain in an interview how to ride, it would sound even more complicated. It would be easy to conclude that walking is simpler than biking. But walking is a much slower method of transportation than biking, so if you walk, everything else in your life must be compressed to compensate for the extra transportation time. So, if you put in the necessary time and effort to learn to ride, it will ultimately seem simple and simplify your life.”