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Consumption: The Cost of Eating - Week 4 of No GMOs
Submitted by Patrick Groneman on Wed, 4/25/2012, 8:00am
This month, I’ve taken on the challenge of attempting to not ingest a single piece of food that has been Genetically Modified. In the first three weeks I investigated my intention for going GMO free, the quality of precision that is involved in this type of disciplined practice (still haven’t heard back from Trader Joe’s), and the feeling of groundlessness that accompanies taking a broader view and stepping outside of conventional moralism.
All along, I’ve maintained an awareness of the the money & class issues associated with eating mostly organic produce, and doing the bulk of my shopping at Whole Foods. I live in a working class, mostly immigrant neighborhood in Brooklyn, and on more than one occasion have felt pangs of guilt while carrying a bag of groceries past the Key Food and Bodegas that line my block. For my final installment, I wanted to get into the financial details a bit.
According to a report released by the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) I make almost exactly the average income for an American. Given the fact that I have no children to take care of, my health insurance is covered by my employer (thank you IDP!), and even though I work for a not-for-profit, a certain degree of Executive privilege often lands me in complementary dinners, tea meetings and workshops -- all things considered, I’m in a very privileged financial situation.
To add to the financial component, I am also extremely privileged in terms of education. According to city data Less than 20% of residents in my neighborhood have attained a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
So not only can I afford more expensive food than approximately 66% of the nation’s wage earners, I have spent 4 more years of my life completely dedicated to the process of learning than 80% of the residents in my neighborhood. That’s a very real disparity.
But one surprise from this month was that I am, in fact, on pace to spend less overall money on food in April than I have in 5 of the past six months. This is due to preparing my own meals every single day, and not spending a single dollar on restaurants (which I normally love to go to). In short, the cost of groceries rose, but the cost of eating out dropped to zero.
Still, I would estimate that if I were to do an experiment where I cooked every meal for myself, but WITHOUT the requirement that it be Non-GMO, I could probably reduce my food expenses even further, probably by another 30-40%. Access to organic, local and healthy produce is still a class issue, even as awareness of food justice issues becomes more widespread.
So when I notice the guilt creeping in, it is my practice to notice, but not to indulge it. When I notice a sense of mental impoverishment, it is my practice to maintain the broader perspective that I have things pretty good. And while I find myself in this position of privilege, it is my prerogative to look at the issue in a holistic and spacious manner, so that I can continue to help bring access to GMO-free and GMO-transparent foods to our culture.
After all, Being non-GMO doesn’t have to be a class issue. Peru, who has banned GMOs entirely, is a case in point.
Non-GMO prodcut of the Week:
Raw Revolution Bars -- Loving the new Lemon Dew Flavor
If you are in anyway inspired to support Non-GMO rights, you can help by signing this petition against USDA approval of yet another strand of GE corn, due to be decided by THIS FRIDAY
Responsible Consumption Follow-Ups!
If you live in NYC, and want to continue this exploration of ethical consumption, you can join me and many others for Shop Your Values Week, a values based shopping initiative put on by a coalition of organizations.
Several community members and yogis are coming together for an intensive consumption cleanse starting next week. Check out No Impact Week at Jivamukti Yoga School
We are on this journey as a community. Read all the Responsible Consumption posts and follow along as we examine our habits.
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