There was a time when enjoyment of food was a simple affair; you learnt to cook, how to choose fresh ingredients and which neighborhood restaurants served consistently good food.
Now, the pursuit of food is so elevated, it has become an trendy pastime. Farmers market used to be where local growers sold their produce direct to consumers cheaply; but now there are artisan markets and boutique farmers market where you know your farmer by their first name, they have a webpage and everything is organic, free-range and costs twice as much as the stuff on the supermarket shelf.
The pursuit of culinary and foodie perfection has been exulted to a frenzied level. New Zealand, still heavily dependent on primary production but with a high labour cost, cannot afford to feed the common masses. Our production is geared to feeding the wealthy classes. We pride ourselves on growing the best apples, our dairy cows produce the best milk, our lamb is the most succulent and our king salmon is famous.
All these comes a cost though. NZ is an expensive place to live well; dining out is exorbitant, and costs of produce goes up every season. I have always known that my food bill (groceries plus dining out) sometimes amounted to nearly 20% of my take home pay. It is a ludicrous amount to devout to a pastime. Recently, I had an accountant take a detailed look at my spending habits, and she gave me the hard word; – reduce my food bill to about 10% of my budget, and put that into my mortgage. Over 10 years, I could save $100K of interest on my mortgage. Yikes! And that doesn’t even include my overseas eating trips and the myriad of culinary gadgets that fill every nook and cranny of my kitchen.