Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 4: Buy Local Milk

Tony: You can get a gallon of milk at Wal-Mart for about $2. Why are we spending $4.99 on local milk from the Homeland Creamery?

Megan: There are so many reasons we have to drink the good milk, if we're going to drink milk at all: Happy cows, pasture-fed on local feed, local transportation so we save tons of carbon from trucking the milk in, we're supporting a local living economy, the milk tastes better and has a better texture, no crazy weird hormones and stuff, the list goes on.

So it turns out that there are some things that are BOTH pocket-green and planet-green. For instance, drinking tap water instead of bottled water. This is a win-win. But there are other things that are good for the pocket but bad for the planet, such as buying the cheapest food available. And there are still other things that are good for the planet but not so good for the wallet, such as buying carbon offsets.

Buying local organic milk turns out to be one of those things that is great for the planet (assuming you're going to drink milk in the first place, but that's another debate), but rough on the wallet. (At least in the short term. What about the higher costs of health care after a lifetime of crappy food? Ugh. And not considering externalities, such as carbon cost of trucking milk from far away, or the lives of the cows at the factory farms...)

Anyways... here's the math.

One gallon of crappy milk costs about $2.99 at Wal-Mart, which yields a price of $0.19 per 8-ounce glass.

One gallon of delicious Homeland Creamery milk costs $4.99 at Lowe's Foods, which yields a price of $0.31 per glass. That's a big difference, but I still think it's worth it. (I did not calculate in the long-term savings of using Lowe's $5 reward coupons or anything like that. If I did, we may assume that approximately every 11th gallon would be free.)

BTW, other mainstream organic brands, such as Horizon or Organic Valley are more expensive (about $7 per gallon) and are trucked in from far away. That would be an obvious lose-lose.

Sometimes Tony will agree to make a pocket sacrifice if it is small in dollars, and if the product actually has a higher quality. For example, if it tastes better or looks fabulous. I actually do think he can taste the difference in the Homeland milk versus the regular stuff.

But I'll still chalk this up to a win for Planet.

so far....
Pocket: 1, Planet: 1, Win-Win: 2.

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