Young and Hungry

Jane Black and Brent Cunningham Tackle the Notion That Local and Organic Foods Are Only for the Rich

Tim Carman's predecessor at the Washington Post has moved on to greener pastures — quite literally — absconding to the hills of West Virginia to take a close look at how some Americans eat. Jane Black's first op-ed since leaving the Post, co-written with husband Brent Cunningham, lays out their mission in the rural state.

The piece echoes a sentiment I've thought many times before while navigating farmers markets to piece together a meal: This stuff can be seriously expensive! What about free range, organic, and local for everyone? Black and Cunningham address the cost issue:

...finding affordable, fresh and even local food there has not been as hard as we expected. We have found plenty of organic produce at the supermarket. We've bought local eggs, buffalo meat and un-homogenized milk in glass bottles.

So far, we've prepared nearly all our meals at home and are averaging about $100 a week on groceries. That breaks down to $2.38 per meal, per person, though it doesn't include the gas and time it took to run down leads on food sources.

The story goes on to discuss local and organic food as the new front of the culture wars and has set off a feedback thread of more than 100 comments.

I, too, have spent $100 at local farmers markets and Whole Foods to prepare my weekly meals (damn heritage turkeys), and the supplies didn't last through the entire week. While I realize that prices in our area are significantly higher, I think Americans need a more in-depth analysis of how to eat sustainably without breaking the bank. Maybe such an analysis will be forthcoming from the couple?

If Black and Cunningham can successfully demonstrate that supporting local, sustainable, and organic eating can be as good for our bank accounts as it is for our souls (and the environment), they could stand at the forefront of this movement to revamp our destructive industrial food production system.

  • Davey Connor

    These numbers don't take time cost into consideration. I'm a proponent of home-cooked, locally sourced meals as well, but am exceptionally lucky to be a salaried graduate student, so I'm able to eek out enough hours in a week to make food myself. If I had two jobs and a family to deal with, I don't think I'd be nearly as capable at turning raw ingredients into meals every day of the week. I realize that there are time saving methods like preparing ahead on weekends, but people turn to the processed food aisles just as much for convenience as for low-cost calories.