Throughout the conference, I got to sit in on a few different formal discussions. I say formal, because these discussions were actual speakers, speaking and discussing with an audience. Not to be confused with the informal discussions about food, blogging, etc that were had with many people throughout the weekend.
I should let you know that I will not be recapping every discussion, or event at the conference. However, there are many fabulous recaps of the events out there! If you go to this website you will find many links to different recaps.
One of the formal discussions that I was looking forward to the most was that of Ethical Eating. This discussion was lead by Evan and Lin. Going into this discussion, I was very intrigued and interested in what would be said about ethical eating. Living in Madison, I often forget that I am lucky to have such great local and organic options readily available.
The first point that Evan made was a big one for me.
Make sure that the animal was fed what they would eat in the wild. The food that they eat affects the meat and it affects you.
If you are buying fish, make sure that when the fish was living it ate things that it normally would in the wild. Fish do not eat corn in the wild. The same idea can be applied with cows, chickens, etc. Such a simple concept, but not something that we all think of right away.
Then he went into more specifics about how to think ethically about certain foods:
- When you are buying eggs, the key words to look for are “vegetable fed” and “added Omega 3’s”
- When you are buying animal products, make sure that they are hormone and antibiotic free. Hormones and antibiotics are things that are added to an animal’s diet – again, not something that they would eat in the wild. Some studies even say that people who eat meats with lots of antibiotics in them eventually become immune to certain antibiotics that they take. Some even say that this might lead to “old” illnesses becoming more prevalent because you become immune to the vaccinations.
- Don’t forget that store brands can be just as good nutritionally, and cost less! Many stores are stepping up their standards and practices.
- When buying poultry, whole birds or meat that is still on the bone is fresher, and most likely less expensive.
He also mentioned that meat is much different now than it was 100 years ago. Since it has become such a large factory driven business, it is now much more about the output and the money than the input. Because of this, buying from local farmers, and getting to know your farmers is more important than ever.
On this same not, I realized that I should probably watch Food, Inc. I’m kind of afraid.
So now that we have all of these wonderful ways to guide our animal product buying experience, how can we really afford it? Is it really that important that we need to spend a lot more money on it?
It is important, but you don’t necessarily need to be spending a lot more money.
Here are some tips that I learned from the presentation for eating meat ethically and saving money:
- Shop your local farmers market. Since I live in Madison, I am fortunate to have a plethora of wonderful farmers markets in the area with many of them offering great local meat sources. Some grocery stores are even starting to catch on to this shop local trend by labeling products with the distance it took for them to get there.
- Buy in bulk and freeze it. Stores like Costco are starting to stock more and more organic, and ethical selections. Buying in bulk can save you lots of money. Even if you don’t have a membership to somewhere that you can buy large quantities at a time, be sure to keep an eye out for sales at your local grocer! When there is a sale, buy what you can and freeze or preserve what you can’t eat right away.
- Buy store brands. As I mentioned before, many grocery stores are jumping right in with the organic, and local trends. Just because it is a store brand does not downgrade it. In fact, if you shop at a smaller store they may have more control over the processing and production of their company than a larger brand name.
- Avoid “choice” cuts. Using cheaper cuts or ground meat will save you money.
- Buy in season. When things are in season in your area, they will be cheaper because there is more of them available. Buying raspberries in Wisconsin in December will be much more expensive than buying them in July. If you check out your local farmers market, you will be able to see first hand what is in season at a certain time. My Savvy friend Julie is currently working on a project to preserve all of her excess produce that is in season now so that when the season is over, she will still have some without having to spend much more money to buy something that is out of season.
As a whole, I thought Evan‘s talk was very informative and interesting. I always try to buy the “more ethical” choices, but often times the cost is definitely a deterrent. This talk made me think about ways that I can make an ethical decision, without breaking my bank account.
The other half of the discussion was lead by Lin, and since she is vegan, it focused more on the produce aspects of ethical eating. I will be back with a recap of the less meaty half of the conversation soon!
How do you save money when you are buying groceries?
Do you always buy the cheapest selection, or do other things
(like brand, organic, local, etc.) factor into your decision?