Saturday, March 8, 2008

buying your values

$19.30. That's how much I spent on 2 lbs of pasta, 1 lb of marinara sauce, and .74 lb of pecorino romano cheese.  The location of my spending spree was Caputo's Deli, here in my neighborhood, Carroll Gardens.  Caputo's has been here in the neighborhood forever, though I have not. somebody named "mommiebrain" commented on citisearch as follows:

"I have been going to Caputo's since I was a small kid and my parents went there as kids also. We no longer live in the area, but we have a special order every Christmas for all of their goodies and my Uncle brings them to us to enjoy every year! Caputo's is the best bakery!"

Caputo's is a family business, making fresh Pasta, Sauces, Mozzarella;  and selling some of the finest imported italian foods we can get this side of the atlantic.  But you pay for those 'old world' values.  Here is the breakdown of the items I bought today:

$6.83 for the cheese
$3.49 for one pasta
$4.99 for the other pasta
$3.99 for the sauce

$19.30 total

This will supply me with roughly 4-6 meals, coming to about $4-5/meal. Not a bad rate, considering.

Now, if I had gone to the little supermarket across the street for some standard industry foods, the total would have been substantially lower:

$3.49 for brand name Romano (i forgot which...sorry!)
$2.78 for the Barilla Pasta x2
$3.49 for Classico Marinara (24oz, 8 more then I bought from Caputo's)

$9.76 total

So I could have gotten away with $2.50/meal. Why didn't I??

Well, firstly, I only have my mouth to feed.  So, right off the bat I have a simpler time eating then those with children/dependents.  But, I eat a fair amount more then I (really) need to when I sit down for lunch. I could get away with less, leaving a portion for the imaginary dependent, and be just as well off nutritionally.

Secondly, the key element here is that I have made a commitment, even if it dries up the coffers, to buy my values.  In America we truly have one method of expressing our democratic freedom. One thing we can do to show our ethics, our morals, and our political ambition.  How do we do these things?  We spend our money.  What we spend it on determines more then just what we ingest, or keep in our homes, play in our stereos, drive around town.  What we spend our money on determines where we stand on commerce, industry, environmental factors, politics.  It is our civic responsibility in this capitalist nation to spend our money, and make statements with that spending.  

This is why I cannot accept any argument for certain purchases.   Purchases that wreak of reprehensible practices:  A Hummer for instance,  McDonalds, shopping at Wal-Mart, or, a most pervasive evil, doggy clothing.  These purchases are so wanton, so without defense.  The truth of the matter is:  they simply must be stopped.

On the other end is a place like Caputo's.  Local, small business.  Making fantastic food the same way they have for generations (making it impossible for modern chemical/synthetic food to enter the equation).  But to support this kind of business one must spend almost twice as much.  

The question is:  can we tighten up in other areas to accommodate these values?  I have begun the process.  To be honest, though it is expensive, it is rewarding.  I am helping keep Caputo's open, where in many other neighborhoods, stores like it have closed.  

I think we need to evaluate our food purchases, and adjust.  On countless occasion we hide behind the monetary argument:  cheaper = better.  Let's throw that out.  Let's buy the best product, from the best source, regardless of price.  If we have to eat a little less, drink a little less, buy one less superfluous item from target, buy the dog one less sweater, we can do it.

Of course there are those who cannot do it.  I will (conveniently) leave them out of this equation.  But my assumption is that in this country of plenty, that percentage is rather small.  Most americans are deeply wasteful.  We are foolish, impulsive, driven by fad.  Most of us can adjust our purchasing capably, even if we are looking at spending 100% more on food then our current allocation.  

Get to it.

Be Well.

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