Many times we are asked about our grocery bill—how much do we spend each month on eating a raw, vegan diet? It’s not something that’s easy to answer, though. If we just blurted the amount out, people would be shocked (at a minimum) and insist that there’s no way possible they could ever eat a raw diet because they can’t afford it.
Our monthly expense at the grocery store has continued to climb since I first began eating raw foods. At this point, now that Jim is eating 100% raw, as well, our monthly expense has more than doubled from the time when it was only me eating 100%. That’s a huge increase in money being spent each month. But, you know what? It’s okay! Yes, I said it’s okay that our expense has more than doubled and I’ll tell you why after you take a look at what we purchased last week for our home.
We normally buy even more bananas, but they were all green and we figured we’d go back in a few days to see if any ripe ones were available. On the kitchen table (which is our fruit table–we eat at our dining room table) we have bananas, avocados, grapefruit (three more bags in the fridge), tomatoes (they didn’t have many nice tomatoes at the store, or else you’d see more here), apples (there are more apples on another counter, as well), oranges (two more bags in the fridge), and kiwi fruits.
Packing the fridge isn’t always easy. We’ve got it down to a system that works pretty well most of the time, however. I put produce that stays fresh the longest in the back of the fridge. Here are some items that you don’t see, since they are behind everything else: cauliflower, three bags of kale, four heads of romaine, two heads of green leaf lettuce, six beets, four Thai coconuts, collard greens, oranges, apples, more celery and carrots, dates, raisins, nuts and seeds (which we also store in the freezer, as well). In the front you’ll see about 20 cucumbers, two bunches of broccoli, six bunches of baby bok choi, some more kale, pears, some apples, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, snow peas, ten sweet peppers (red, yellow, and orange), four packs of blueberries, a large pack of strawberries, a few cooked items KDcat picked up at the hot food bar at the co-op, three bags of lemons, three bags of shredded coconut, and a plastic container with scraps that we use for feeding our dog, Julia. We also have a few small containers of leftovers from the previous shopping trip.
Yes, that’s a lot of food for only three people (our dog eats some of the produce with us, too). We finish just about all of it in seven to eight days. If we lived closer to the food co-op, we’d shop daily. However, this is what has been working for us. To keep the greens fresh, I make sure to empty all excess water from the bags and then I tie them up so that air is trapped inside. This has worked well for me for many years. All of the produce is organic, so it’s important for me to keep it as fresh as possible—some of the nonorganic produce has chemicals on it to keep it from spoiling too fast.
In the door (see that it has been taped—because we stuff it too full!), you’ll see some other items we use. In the doors are bags of date pieces that Jim loves to snack on. On the shelves are things like nut butters, oils, hemp seeds, carob powder, soy sauce, hemp protein powder, seeds, and we also keep scallions and cilantro (and other fresh herbs) tucked on these shelves, as well. We didnt’ take picture of it, but the freezer holds more nuts and seeds, as well as frozen fruit for smoothies.
So, why did I say it’s okay that our grocery bill has more than doubled over the past year? Because look at what we are buying: fresh, ripe, organic LIFE! Who can put a price on life? I sure can’t. Before eating this way I was ill. My body was struggling for survival. I wasn’t only obese because I had a lot of fat that was protecting my cells from toxins, I was also retaining massive amounts of water (edema) because my body was desperately trying to protect itself. My list of physical ill health was a mile long: obesity, arrhythmia, insulin resistance, PCOS, high cholesterol (even though I was vegan!), high triglycerides, depression, extreme fatigue, debilitating migraines, edema, scaly and red skin, and so much more. When I changed my diet to one of only raw, vegan foods (I was already 100% organic for many years), all of those health issues disappeared. I was given life again. I woke up from the half-life I had been living and blossomed into someone truly alive in more ways than I can ever explain.
Who can put a price on that? Isn’t life vital?! Without a vital, healthy body we can never truly experience life. For those of you who are just learning about raw foods, just beginning your journeys, trust me when I say that you have not felt how beautifully vibrant and healthy you can be. For those of you who are now experiencing the wake up from the half-life you’ve lived on cooked foods, and those of you who are fully awake, please leave a comment to acknowledge that what I’m saying is the truth. With a raw food diet you become ALIVE!
Anyway, back to the expense of eating this way. Yes, it can be quite expensive—especially if you eat raw foods the way we do (buying whatever we feel like eating, even if it’s extremely expensive). I’m not saying eating a raw, vegan diet has to be so expensive, however. You can limit your food selections to those that are in season and therefore less expensive. You can have the bulk of your diet consist of less expensive fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and not purchase many organics. There ARE ways to cut back on grocery expenses (and I hope many of you will share tips here, for those looking to eat more raw on a very tight budget).
Let’s talk about your food budget, however. How much have you allocated to your weekly/monthly food intake? What ways have you found to cut back on the amount you are spending on your food expenses? I’m asking this not because I want to find out how little someone can spend, it’s because I want you to take a good look at how much effort you have possibly put into keeping your food budget to a minimum. It’s a lot of work to do that, as most of you will agree. I’d like to pose a question here, however: Have you ever considered putting more effort into cutting back on EVERY OTHER expense and allowing your food budget to become a priority? Isn’t your health—your very existence, your life—priceless?
To me, the food I take in allows my body to thrive. My goal in life is to THRIVE! I want to be filled with health, vibrant life! If the groceries I buy help me meet that goal, then buying groceries is my number one priority in life. Yes, my number one priority in life is groceries! To many, maybe that sounds pathetic or obsessive. To me, however, I know that without eating a raw, vegan diet my body will slip back into the half-life I was living. I will begin the steep slope into a diseased body and my goal of thriving will be impossible. It’s easy for me to place my priority on the foods I eat!
We’ve been spending an average of about $2,500 a month on groceries (this includes the nuts/seeds/produce for our raw, vegan dog, as well—that’s a subject we’ll cover another day). If you are mathematically inclined, you may have already realized that we’re spending about $30,000 per year to eat this way. In order to spend $30,000, an individual would have to earn about $40,000 before taxes. And here we’re only talking about the expense of our food! We haven’t even added in other expenses. Are there ways around this expense? Yes! But, they may seem a bit radical for many.
Since I’ve made a commitment to dedicate my life to the raw food movement (I want others to feel vibrant and fully alive, as well!), and Jim has joined me in this commitment, we are in the long process of severing the corporate/societal ties that are keeping us trapped in the common must-make-lots-of-money-to-survive way of living. Over the past four years we have been cutting back on expenses, preparing for this major shift (that I didn’t fully understand at the time—I was just following my intuition). I made paying off our debt a big part of our budget. We cut back on our expenses in as many ways as possible. We don’t spend money on unnecessary things: cable television, sattelite dishes, cell phones, a second car (and therefore extra car insurance and expenses), new clothes on a regular basis (we mostly buy only as needed—and items are usually either on clearance or from a thrift store), eating out at restaurants, buying new possessions (it’s just more stuff that keeps us tethered to this way of living), credit cards (why go into debt for things you don’t need for survival?), superfluous gift giving (we used to equate elaborate gift giving with showing love), and so much more.
Once our home sells, we’ll begin our cross-country RV tour to spread the word about the vitality of the raw food diet. At that point, we will no longer have a steady income from corporate America. We will have, however, true freedom to follow our dreams. There’s a saying that things will work out if you follow your passions and live your dreams, so we’re testing that. With an extremely limited budget, how will we afford $30,000 a year on groceries? We don’t know, yet! We do know, however, that our number one priority is the best possible produce for our bodies. So, it will be interesting to see how we juggle our lives to meet that priority.
Selling our home will be necessary (and is one of the radical things I mentioned, above), so that we can have the funds available for the cross-country tour and to purchase some land. We’ll eventually settle in a climate where we can grow our own produce year-round, which will be a very big part of meeting our priority on a tight budget. We’ll adapt, making the changes necessary to continually meet our priority of having the best possible produce. Again, who can put a price on life? We’ll do everything possible to continue living a vibrant existance (and helping others to do so, as well)!
What are your thoughts on all of this? What is your number one priority right now?
Note from Jim:
Just to clarify: Since we’re leaving “Corporate America” rather suddenly in favor of a free agent lifestyle, we do anticipate a coming period during which our budget will in fact be tight. That’s just reality. However, we’re in no way stating that our intention is to exist continually that way. We do not feel that there is anything at all wrong with prosperity, or that one must live with less in order to be healthy. (“Prosperity” is just a word, after all, indicating that one is doing well, often connoting financial well being in particular.) Rather, the question is: If you’re fortunate enough to be prosperous, how do you use that prosperity? How are you placing that prosperity into service for others? So, while some of our goals are ostensibly acquisitive in nature (e.g., acquiring land, which is quite expensive in the locale we’re considering) or costly in nature (e.g., having enough money to travel the world in order to meet similar-minded people and bring you continued coverage and information from them), we’re approaching the topic of prosperity with what we feel is the highest level of integrity and responsibility in terms of the message Pure Jeevan intends to spread, regardless of whatever our level of fianncial capacity turns out to be.