Eating is something I take very seriously - and so is the concept of memory. Yet in spite my love of eating, I often have a hard time remembering what I ingest - even just a day or two later.
I moved in with an old friend at the start of September and we have been having dinner together most nights - but with time I began forgetting what I had cooked. Knowing my love of data collection, he suggested I start writing our menus down. In college I studied history, and the intersection of memory and record is really fascinating to me. In this case, how does the concept of enjoying a meal change when I can't recall it without the help of notes?
I began tracking our dinners, but soon enough that expanded to jotting down all my meals, snacks, and desserts. At that point I realized, why keep this to myself when I could share it with the world through twitter?
This step changed the process for me. What began as a way to remember personal experiences, became a willfully public statement about my food decisions. Knowing that someone - anyone - could see what I eat has begun a curious change in my behavior.I have always eaten well, but now the pressure is even greater. Social pressure, though silent (and potentially non-existent!), made me want to strive to eat well.
Once I had begun down this path, why stop there? Looking at my consumption is interesting, but then I realized I could bring the analysis further by bringing in how much all of this cost. I keep pretty good track of my finances, so I began pulling numbers.
New York can be a tricky place to eat on a budget - but in the ten months since I landed here, I have found my way around the markets. I now eat what I want while spending only 12.04% of my income on buying local, good, clean, fair, food. I am slightly above the average American spending of 9.8% of disposable income on food, but doing pretty well.
Looking backwards at the month of September, my food spending was split like so:
- 13.0% for my CSA deliveries (Each week I receive around 30 pounds of vegetables and fruits from a Long Island farm.)
- 44.7% for the farmer's market (I usually buy two birds a month, a touch of sausage, some cheeses, dried beans, supplementary veggies, some flour for bread baking, and dairy.)
- 21.9% for brick-and-mortar grocers (Mostly at a local cheese store, and a dry goods seller for nuts and dried fruits, chocolate, peanut butter, some flour, and spices.)
- 6.1% for ice cream (Yeah. My ice cream habit is bad enough that I keep an entire spending category for it.)
- 4.8% for drinks (I enjoy the occasional glass of wine or cocktail when out on the town.)
- 9.5% for restaurant meals (An infrequent a slice of pizza and a meal in a sit-down local twice a month or so.)
I will be interested in continuing to learn about my own eating habits through this experiment - and I would be happy to have you follow along. You can follow my consumption on twitter here or searching for my handle, NLeamy. I indicate food that is homemade with the tag (h), prepared food are labeled with a (p) , and restaurant meals by (r). In about a month I hope to write another update with what I've learned and how my eating is changing.