Monday, December 10, 2012

Healthy Food Cheap

Fall semester is almost over with. I only have this last week of finals left. Wrapping up my Introduction to Sociology class, I was asked to write a paper about poverty. I learned a lot while writing that paper. Did you know that an individual that is considered impoverished is expected to feed themselves for only ten dollars a day? There are a lot of people that spend more than that on a single meal. For my paper I kept track of the cost of my food and I was surprised by my results. Here is an excerpt from my paper.

"I have attempted to learn more about the link between poverty and food. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty threshold for a single person was $11,702; the amount for my family, two adults and one child, $18,106 (Poverty Thresholds for 2011 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years). This means that if I were living by myself I would be expected to spend about ten dollars a day on food, and the amount allotted for my whole family is about sixteen dollars and fifty cents.
Because my family lives near the poverty threshold, we eat cheaply whenever we can by buying local whole food. It is much cheaper and healthier than purchasing processed food. For the purpose of this assignment I kept track of what I personally ate for one day.
I belong to Rochester Roots, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I pay twenty-one dollars a week for fresh farm produce grown locally. Some of it comes from the small garden right across the street from my house. Last week I received parsnips, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, butternut squash, apples, beets, Swiss chard and celery root.
For breakfast I had a large filling breakfast. I used two potatoes from last week’s CSA, an onion from the week before, and two eggs from Wegman’s. Eighteen eggs from Wegman’s cost $2.68. I diced and boiled the potatoes, then fried them in a skillet with Rooster Sauce. I added diced onions, and when they were done cooking, I scrambled the eggs. I estimate this breakfast cost me less than fifty cents.
I also had a cup of healthy coffee from Organo Gold. Because I have just started an Organo Gold business, I got my latte wholesale for eighty-seven cents. After shipping costs, it probably works out to about one dollar.
For lunch I had a delicious venison stew. I went hunting this year and shot the deer myself. It cost sixty dollars to butcher it and I got back forty pounds of meat, so it cost a dollar fifty per pound. We used about two pounds of venison in the stew. We also used Swiss chard, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onion, celery root, beets, and broccoli. We put about half the vegetables we got from the CSA last week in the stew. We also added some herbs from our garden last year. We estimate that we made about three gallons of soup for about fifteen dollars. Since I ate two cups, my lunch cost about seventy-five cents.
A few days ago, we made butternut squash apple soup. We used four butternut squash and a dozen apples from the CSA, some chopped ginger, and two quarts of organic chicken stock. The chicken stock costs two quarts for five dollars from Wegman’s. The result was approximately a gallon of soup for less than ten dollars. My leftovers cost about a dollar fifty.
That was a whole day’s worth of food for less than five dollars! Because we made large batches, I can continue to eat like this for the rest of the week. You will notice that the only processed foods that were consumed were the coffee and the stock. Those items also had the highest cost.
Since we eat like this most of the time, it was pretty easy for me to stay within the budget. The most exciting thing about this project was finding out how cheaply we were able to feed our family. A lot of people eat heavily processed food which has a higher cost and less nutrition. Our food was cheap and nutritious. Eating locally grown, whole foods is better for the environment, your health, and your wallet."
"Works Cited:

“Poverty Thresholds for 2011 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years”. United States’ Census Bureau. 8 December 2012. <>"

The moral of this story? Support your local farmers. Go to farmers' markets, find local CSAs, grow a garden. The food you find will be cheaper and healthier.


  1. Also MOST of the food is organic! ;)

  2. I worked a farmers market at my food pantry this past fall in the rain. What I found out was people went for the onions and the carrots - things they knew how to use. I was at the table with the butternut squash. I spent most of my time telling people this squash could last the winter in cold dark storage. And then telling them how to cook it. How did we forget as a people how to cook with real food and become dependent on the cans and boxes lining shelves? There are several blog sites on people living off the USDA food stamp amount and buy fresh produce local (recipes included). I've read them.

    Your point is right on - but we need to help people learn how to cook. I think there is another piece - as a college student and having a family and probably working - you are just tired - I can see people so tired that it is just easy to pull the cans and boxes off the shelf. You don't have to think. Cooking does require time and thought. I think this is a bigger societal problem and we need to have a healthy civil dialogue.

    Thanks for this essay.