Why I Don’t Bargain Shop for Food

Money is a touchy subject. Even without bringing up finances directly, people like me who encourage others to eat Real Food often get branded as elitist out of hand.

I get it. Finding and affording fresh food can be difficult or impossible for some people, and that is heartbreaking. But I don’t think that should make the entire subject off limits.

Food is a complex topic that includes issues related to health, economics, culture, human rights, animal welfare and the environment/sustainability. We also need to make food decisions multiple times a day in order to survive.

I consider all these things when deciding what to purchase for myself and my family, and know first hand what kinds of tradeoffs come up when choosing what to eat. Over the years both my priorities and financial means have changed dramatically, and ultimately evolved into the system I use today.

Here I’ll take you through my thought process in making food decisions, including how I’ve adapted to lower and higher income levels.

Of course none of this is intended as a judgement or condemnation on anyone else’s decisions. Everyone’s values are personal and equally valid, and obviously you need to do what works for you and your family.

My goal here is to shed some light on a difficult subject and hope it provides some clarity for those who are trying to make heads or tails of these issues.

My best childhood memories include big family BBQs at my grandparents’ house, jumping off the diving board anywhere my mom would let me, riding bikes with my brother Dana, and of course Mexico.

My grandfather’s parents were Mexican immigrants. He grew up in Texas in a bilingual home, then ultimately enlisted in the Army where he served in WWII and became a featherweight boxing champion. He was so good at boxing in fact, that he was ultimately recruited to fight with the Marine Corps as well.

After his service he met my blue-eyed, red-headed grandmother in LA. Together they were a spitting image of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo.

After getting married they opened a German sandwich shop and hofbrau in LA. Grandpa was the chef and I don’t know why he chose German food, but my guess is that he was trying desperately to assimilate into the country he loved so he and his family would not be stigmatized by his immigrant heritage. Spanish was never spoken in the home my mother grew up in.

By the time I came into the picture though we ate Mexican food a lot. Even though my mother was the one with Mexican heritage, my father was a self-proclaimed Mexiphile and it was a rare day that our home wasn’t stocked with homemade salsa and guacamole (pronounced wah-cah-moe-lay, please). Chips were optional.

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