The Country Boy and I have always tried to shop "responsibly". We try to buy fair trade tea and coffee (and chocolate too now that Cadbury has come on board). We avoid purchasing products from companies whose ethics we don't like (currently Cotton On is on the list as it recently launched a range of "back to school" items with references to porn - for young teenagers!!!), and we try to buy products that are made in Australia so that we are supporting local jobs and local primary producers. Being from a farm, this was always important to Country Boy.
We believe that what we buy is an important statement of our values. We know that by making wise choices about the products we buy we can encourage retailers and manufacturers to make positive decisions that support our community and our environment.
As part of this, we have always avoided buying store branded food (eg Woolworths Select), even if it meant paying a little bit more. When supermarkets sell store branded products, it affects the farmers as they are not payed as much for their products. To this end we have payed almost double for milk, rather than the $1 per litre that most supermarkets offer on their own brand.
I realise that we were in a fortunate position to be able to make these choices. I earned a reasonable income, and we don't purchase a lot of processed foods (which cost more) because I mostly cook from scratch. We made sacrifices in other areas of our lives to uphold these principles.
Now that we have moved to the farm however, our financial situation has changed. I have taken leave from my job, and will be working only part time (and hoping to pick up some casual work on the other days). Country Boy has resigned from his job to move down here, and will be looking for some part time work too. So we have alot less money coming in.
This has got me thinking. It would be easy to save quite alot of money by buying store branded food. Yesterday we went to the supermarket in town to do a big stock up, which will last us several weeks (except bread, milk, fruit and vegetable which I can get at a smaller town close by). I was comparing the price of store branded foods and in many cases you can save several dollars on basic items such as flour, sugar, and canned goods. With an unsteady and reduced income, this would be an easy way to save money.
So my dilemma is this: I need to save money, but to do so compromises our philosophy! Are ethics and philosophies something only rich people can afford?
All thoughts and advice gratefully received (but please keep it polite!)!