When I was very, very ill, I was not able to do much -at all. I was in pain, I was exhausted, and I was confused. Some months I received welfare benefits; some months I received nothing at all. When my health improved somewhat, such that I could actually move around for more than an hour a day, I started to volunteer on organic farms. The Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms program connected me with farmers near and far. At one farm local to me, I pulled weeds and fed animals, napping in between stints. For my work, I received three excellent meals full of organic, farm-fresh food as well as a bed to sleep in. WWOOFing was a way I got by during some of my most difficult months (and one which I highly recommend to both struggling and vigorous individuals and families).
At that time, I felt little hope for my recovery, so I didn’t really think beyond each day. All these years later, however, I keep recalling one conversation on that particular farm. Like all the other WWOOF hosts I met over the years, the owner was sincere in his work, and passionate about organics. He, his wife, and their young children were able to use all the help they could get on their large, productive farm. Unlike many farmers, they were relatively well-off, such that they were even able to take extended vacations in Europe, but I remember the farmer saying quite vehemently that if ever their circumstances required that they choose between quality food and, say, shoes, his children would go barefoot. As a very, very poor person (who often did have to go barefoot), I was intrigued by this statement. I wondered why a person of relative wealth would even be pondering this. And I was curious as to why he viewed quality food as even more important than clothing.
Now I get it.
As a mom to a seven year old recovered from severe symptoms, I feel likewise. If I had to choose between shoes or food for my son, it would be food. If I had to choose between a car for me and food, it would be food.
I’ve known this for some time now, but when I started tracking my spending recently, I saw just how true this was! I spend more on food than I do on a home -because I choose to share a small, modest, rental suite with one other adult and two additional children so that I can afford awesome food! And I spend more on food than I do on all my other expenditures combined! It’s not that I necessarily spend a lot on food -it’s more that I prioritize food. I prioritize it in terms of money, time, and space.
Shoes (and everything else) second.