Maybe some of you remember the $5 Food Challenge invitation?
Yesterday was the big day. I admit, I was a little worried. Because of time and money restraints I wasn’t able to go shopping until the day before. But due to the generosity of friends and being able to go shopping at a new wonderful all local food store, Tomato Tomato, everything came together beautifully!
The Challenge ~ Can we eat a local, real food meal for less than the average value meal ($5 per person)? Do we have to sacrifice nutrient-dense healing food for processed, mass produced pretend food?
How did we do?
People attending: 20
Challenge Food Budget: $100
Actual Spent: $50.73
Per Person: $2.54
~ Dinner Menu ~
Herbed Arm Roast
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Buttered Green Beans
Smoked Bacon Swiss Chard Gratin
Fresh Baked Bread
Local Fresh Farm Milk
~ Dessert Menu ~
Fall Apple Crisp with Fresh Whipped Cream
Locally Roasted Coffee: Columbia Sierra Nevada
~ Movie Snack ~
Local Stove Popped Popcorn
The biggest challenge was deciding how legalistic I was going to be about the whole event. Does every little thing have to be local? Does it all have to be organic? It is easy to fall into a trap in every ideology, whether religious or worldly, that one must adhere to strict rules and never fall off the path. But the biggest life lesson I am learning is that grace abounds and that allows flexibility and freedom while seeking the heart of an issue.
The heart of this challenge for me was two-fold. First I wanted to bring people together to share in food and good conversation. That is so key to what my family believes in. Second I wanted to offer up fodder for conversation on the food war front. We can only change things if we are making informed decisions. I was excited to share a film that would spur debate and critical thinking that we greatly need right now about our food industry.
Some of my local, real food challenges for this dinner…
I needed butter. I wanted vitamin-rich grassfed butter. There was none to be found. So I had to settle for butter at my regular grocery store and just made sure I picked the most local vendor.
I decided to go ahead and use the spices already in my cupboard…salt, pepper, garlic, etc…and not stress about whether they were local or organic.
Price Breakdown ~
Arm Roast – $17.85 (3.50 x 5.10 lbs – Range West Grass Fed Beef)
Potatoes – free (neighbor’s farm)
Green Beans – free (neighbor’s farm)
2 Onions – $ .96 (Spring Valley Gardens)
Swiss Chard – free (own garden)
Herbs – free (own garden)
Apples – $8.74 (4.5 lbs)
8 oz Smoked Bacon Cheese – $4.60 (Jisa Farmstead Cheese)
Gallon Whole Milk – $6.22 (Burbach – $4 credit for bringing back bottles)
Pint Cream – $2.87 (Burbach – $1 credit for bringing back the bottle)
1 lb Butter – $4 1lb (Highland Dairy)
Flour – $2 for 2lbs (Grain Place Foods)
Oats – $1 for 1lb (Grain Place Foods)
Popcorn – $.49 for 1/3 bag ($1.49 bag – Hilger Agri Natural)
Coffee – $3.00 for 1/3 bag ($9.30 16oz – locally roasted at Midwest Custom Roasting Inc.)
After a delicious dinner that everyone felt was much more like Thanksgiving rather than a usual evening meal, we retired to the living room to watch the controversial documentary Food Inc. The first time I watched this movie I literally walked out of the theater crying. I was already much more in the know about the food industry then most people I knew yet I was still shocked by what I saw. Having studied much more extensively about food since then, watching it this time just made me very angry. My first viewing left me wanting to change and I did make small baby steps. This viewing left me with a steely resolve that I need to get this food thing figured out for my family. We had some great conversation starting points and I think most everyone left with something to think about.
It was a great night of delicious food and even greater fellowship.
And it gave me much to talk about and share here in this virtual space. So I will be picking my own brain and hashing out thoughts throughout the next couple of weeks in a Real Food Series. Be sure to check back for more discussion and how your family can start making changes.
In the meantime, watch the movie Food Inc. Start reading (your local library is a great resource) and thinking. And check out Slow Food USA and “like” them on Facebook for real-time news stories. Let’s stop pretending that our world is fine and that we don’t need to change. Let’s start taking a real look at food and get back to eating food as God intended it to be.
Want to hear about our night? Listen to my husband on a radio podcast on in-season eating over at Judy A La Carte’s radio talk show.