Grocery Budget. It’s all about priorities. (Homemade Ketchup)

This is a somewhat rambling post, but some days my brain just rambles more than other days!

Considering the SAD (Standard American Diet), we eat pretty well.  I cook almost everything from scratch, partly to avoid nasty additives like high fructose corn syrup and MSG and partly because it tastes better.  It’s also cheaper.  I don’t agree that it’s impossible to eat good quality food on a strict budget.  I spend about $200 a month on our food for the three of us.  The trick is that you just can’t buy junk too.  If you’re buying fast food, junk food and packaged foods, and also healthy food, you’re going to spend more. Obviously.

I think a lot about food and my food budget.  I think the food thing comes from my maternal grandmother because she did the same thing, and the budget thing comes from the fact that I want to be able to afford the food thing.  If you’re trying to eat Tradition Nutrition style, sometimes you have to prioritize your food purchases to provide the most nourishment for your buck.

So, regarding organic food:  We do eat as much organics as possible (but not as much as I’d like).  I read somewhere that the pesticide load increases as you go up the food chain.  Picture a field of wheat that has been sprayed.  Yes, there are pesticides in that wheat that you make into bread.  However, put a cow into that field. The cow eats the wheat.  She will retain pesticides she ate and they will accumulate, mostly in her fat.  Then her secondary product (her milk) will have even a higher load.  If this is true, then it would make sense that the biggest bang for your organic buck would be to buy organic milk, butter and cheese, right?  (For you NT foodies, I know I haven’t even gone into the whole grass-fed/pastured issue.  Saving that for another post.)

With this concept in mind, I go ahead and buy conventional produce, mostly through our co-op.  I buy as good quality dairy products as possible, though I can’t usually afford organic unless it’s on sale.  My compromise here is to buy dairy from Safeway because they don’t use growth hormones and very little antibiotics on their cows.  Hopefully soon I will find a local source for all my dairy, beef & chicken (with no pesticides, grass-fed, pastured).  I already buy eggs from a local source which I consider to be our single most nutritious food in our diet.  We eat a lot of eggs.  The eggs come from happy, bug-eating chickens who are cared for by a loving family.  Not from a factory.  Did I say we eat a lot of eggs?!

My ketchup recipe has been adapted from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions book.  I’ve made it three or four times now, and we all love it. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy.  Much better than store-bought.

Homemade Ketchup

  • 3 c. tomato paste
  • At least 1/4 c. whey
  • 1 Tbls. sea salt
  • 1/2 c. pure maple syrup (we use grade B, which is not only cheaper but also retains more nutrients than grade A)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1/4 c.  chopped green chiles (from my freezer-we roasted & froze them last summer)
  • (Original recipe calls for 1/2 c. homemade fish sauce but I always happen to be out of this.  Or maybe I’ve been a little frightened by the thought.)

Mix all ingredients together.  Put in a clean quart jar.  I pour some more whey on top to retard any mold growth.  Cover tightly and let sit out on counter for about two days.  Refridgerate.  Yes, this is a ferment.  Extremely good for you!  Eat as often as possible.


4 responses to “Grocery Budget. It’s all about priorities. (Homemade Ketchup)

  1. The one good thought I have concerning pesticides (and there are few) is that some bio-degrade rather well into innocuous substances (Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis comes to mind) while others like DDT persist for a long time and to bio-intensify as you climb the food ladder. One of the biggest problems I have for US citizens is the lack of controls concerning produce that is imported from countries that still use really bad stuff. Thanks for the blog. You have a nice writing style.

    • Thanks for the great information! I forgot to mention in the post that I do try to abide by the “Dirty Dozen” list as much as possible, so for example, I never buy conventional strawberries anymore. I wonder if these lists take into account the types of pesticides you mention.

  2. I like the way you think. You have a good food philosophy here. I am sure it is worth the extra effort you put in.

  3. Elizabeth,
    Thanks for the comment! This does take work, but I think it’s well worth it.

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