In the past few years, I began to make decisions to radically decrease my living expenses. My ability to now live on about half of what I used to make has given me considerable freedom, and the luxury to slow my life down to a contemplative pace.
One big thing was to move into a two-bedroom apartment and share with a roommate. But there have been other things as well. I don't really shop for clothes except when i need a specific item. I cut my own hair. I get movies at the library instead of the video store. I curbed my addiction to buying books. I stopped going out to eat, except very rarely. And lately, Adam & I stop each other from buying things because we can lend or give each other things we already own (well, mostly he stops me).
I also found ways to reduce my grocery costs. I started to think about all foods in terms of their cost per pound, and quickly saw that meat and cheese are much higher than vegetables, grains, and legumes.
-eat less meat (I now eat no meat, and barely miss it.)
-eat foods made from basic ingredients
-eat more vegetables and legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils)
-make my own bread (often just biscuits because they're easier)
-cut out fruit juice, boxed cereals, and insta-meals because they're expensive
-cut out processed foods (also because they are full of unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients)
-buy rice in bulk (I can get a 20 lb bag of whole grain rice for $11)
In case this sounds like I am living in a state of deprivation, I should emphasize that the meals prepared with these foods are so much more delicious than I have ever made. I've learned to use good oils (peanut, olive, sesame), and a variety of seasonings. Simple eating can be the best kind of eating.
There are items that i now spend more on than i used to. Cage free eggs (some of the time), organic milk, and some organic produce. When the farmers' market comes back to town, I'll be happy to spend a little more to support local agriculture. I think I still end up spending less than I used to.
But our recession (whether it's official or not) isn't really the biggest news on the planet. Other parts of the world are suffering from severe food shortages. I don't know enough to say what the causes are, but I clicked here to urge our government to send aid. You can read more about the crisis here.
i can't remember being hungry and not having the resources to get food to fill my stomach. maybe i've come home late to an empty fridge and been too tired to cook, but i always have something that i could eat.
I seem to always have those Pachacutec slums in my mind. Maybe one day I'll learn something useful to help them to live better, healthier lives on the dunes outside of Lima, Peru.
This interview on NPR today inspired me. I want to know more. "Paul Polak, Tackling Global Poverty His Own Way" Maybe I'll read his book.
This man is trying to find low-tech solutions to help small farmers (less than 5 acres) to improve their yields. This speaks to me, on so many levels. Maybe I'll write more after I read the book.