Foodie on a Budget

There’s a cost involved with being a gourmand: That organic, cold-pressed olive oil don’t come cheap. This week the San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at “Jane,” a gourmet who does it on a budget, choosing to give up a full-time job to stay home with her child as a single mother.

In her new circumstances, Jane nets only $1,200 per month and spends close to $300 per month on food for herself and her child; that’s 25 percent of her income (the average American currently spends 10 percent of his or her income on food, a figure that people such as Michael Pollan have argued is too low). And yet she maintains her lifestyle as a gourmet foodie, complete with organic greens. “How else would I eat?” she asks.

How does she do it? A combination of thrifty shopping, buying less desirable cuts of organic beef, growing her own greens, and making occasional forays into the garbage bins behind local organic bakeries to rescue day-old bread that has been thrown out (this method is perhaps only possible in Berkeley, where there are a wealth of such bakeries).

“This is just who I am,” she says. “What else could I do but eat well, no matter what?”

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