Nourishing Food Need Not Be Expensive

I often hear that obtaining a traditional diet is too expensive.  People argue that eating a nourishing diet that avoids all industrial foods and that includes some lacto-fermented foods, quality fats, raw dairy, and wild seafood or pasture-raised animals products is simply not financially feasible for the vast majority of the population.  In other words, even if people wanted to eat traditionally and had reasonable access to such foods, they couldn’t afford it.

I understand what people mean by this, and I acknowledge that a small percentage of people, even when they otherwise have access to traditional foods, sadly cannot afford it.  The very poorest, even in modern countries like the United States, may depend on charity or government sources for all of their food.  For such people, obtaining a traditional diet may be simply impossible.  This fact is sad and will only change when public awareness of the importance of traditional diets increases to a level that causes change at the public policy levels of government and industry.

But for the vast majority of people, even for most people that our society labels “poor,” obtaining a traditional diet IS possible.

First, almost all people have sufficient funds to buy traditional foods if they really want it.  Proof is the fact that almost all have room in their budget for various unnecessary items.  It’s hard to find one person of any socio-economic class who lacks a cell phone, an i-Pad, an i-Phone, an i-Pod, a fancy cable subscription, a satellite hook-up, or a video-game system.  Many have several of these expensive items.  If nothing else, almost all people in our culture spend a lot of money on cigarettes, beer, cookies, doughnuts, chips, candy, soda, and other junk foods.  The point here is not that people should never spend their money on frivolous items that they enjoy.  The point is merely that if people have the funds for unnecessary items like these, then they also have the funds for necessary items like traditional foods.  All that is needed is the realization of the necessity of traditional foods and the will to make them a priority.

In addition, paying a little extra to fill one’s diet with traditional foods will allow one to save substantial amounts of money in other ways.  Traditional foods contain much higher amounts of nutrient-rich fat and are otherwise much more nutrient-dense overall than conventional foods, therefore, they are more satisfying, cause one to eat less, and allow one’s food supply to last longer.  This can save trips to the grocery store, farm, or wherever one purchases food.  More importantly, a traditional diet will provide significantly improved health that will certainly save trips to the dentist or doctor.  Minor conditions like cavities, colds, and flu, as well as severe conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart-disease, ADD, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, all auto-immune diseases, and many others, along with the enormous time and expense associated with treating and managing such conditions, may be greatly mitigated or entirely avoided by consistently consuming only traditional foods.

A traditional diet need not be elaborate in order to be nourishing and satisfying.  Many simple and inexpensive ways exist in which to obtain nutrient-dense foods that, while not gourmet, will provide substantial amounts of all of the important vitamins, minerals, fats, and other essential nutrients that one needs for vibrant health.  I leave for other posts on this blog the details on exactly which particular foods are most important to include in a traditional diet.  In general, however, they include quality meats, preferably from grass-fed or pastured animals.  They include milk, preferably raw but definitely not ultra-pasteurized.  They include organ meats like liver and heart.  They include home-made bone broth.  And they include modest amounts of pre-soaked grains and lacto-fermented vegetables.  In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon discusses numerous ideas for obtaining a nourishing traditional diet on a limited budget.  Sally emphasizes the important point that someone on a limited budget should regularly eat liver, which is “not expensive but is worth its weight in gold, nutritionally speaking.”

Finally, a traditional diet need not be voluminous.  If one is consuming nutrient-dense foods, he can remain healthy while consuming a much smaller volume of food than he would otherwise eat.  He can do this because the foods that he does consume are so extremely nutritious that they fill his needs.  It is much better to eat a diet that consists of no conventional food and a small amount of extremely nutrient-packed traditional food than to eat a large amount of conventional food that is nutrient-deprived.

Although the money that one spends on traditional foods may be slightly greater than the cost of a conventional diet, one should not be deterred.  With a little practice and some wise budgetary adjustments, a traditional diet is within reach of almost everybody.


Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, p. 621 to 623.

Photo taken by jannoon028, whose portfolio can be viewed here.

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About Patrick Crawford

Patrick Crawford was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended college and law school at the University of Notre Dame, spending one year during law school studying at Notre Dame’s campus in London, England. He is now living and practicing family law in Annapolis, Maryland. When he is not practicing law, he follows the strong interest that he has acquired in the interaction between big business, government, the media, and the lives of individuals affected by these influences. He is particularly interested in the severely negative effects these forces have on nutrition, food production processes, local agriculture, and therefore, on health. He hopes that, through his articles, he will be able to educate others on the importance of traditional and sustainable foodways and agricultural practices, for the sake of both individual health and the security of local food systems. He runs his own website, called: National Fork.
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