In our home, we've been wanting to eat more organically for a while now. We know all the benefits, or rather, lack of negatives that come with eating the right type of farm-fresh. No GMOs. Nothing grown with harmful-to-human pesticides. No hormone-pumped chicken. Grass-fed everything.
But something's been holding us back. That something is money. Eating organically is expensive. We have our grocery budget at a comfortable level right now, and changing our shopping list would cause us to have to cut back in other areas, most notably our savings rate.
The more I think about it, the more I think it would be worth it, anyways. What good is retirement if you're too sick to enjoy it? Or even worse, if your life is over before you get a chance to enjoy it?
I live in a nation that's been dubbed the fattest in the world (go USA!), so our food choices and consumption obviously need to change as a whole. However, obesity is not only a problem in the US. Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, with a majority of the cases being Type 2.
Being overweight can cause other significant health problems such as heart disease, breathing problems, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and even cancer of the breast, colon, gall bladder, or endometrium. (Hormones added to meat and dairy products have been associated with some of these cancers, as well. So you could look perfectly fit, but still run into issues if you regularly consume hormone-pumped meat.)
These are all serious health problems. If you don't have your health, you don't have anything. You could have all the money in the world, but your body may not be functioning in a way you could enjoy the spoils of your lifetime of hard work.
When I hit retirement, I don't want to be rich, or even just comfortable, but confined to a wheelchair, constantly on pain killers, hooked up to a breathing machine, or worse. I'd rather be poor and healthy, able to enjoy the world around me even if financially my options were limited.
I'm not saying we should forgo retirement saving altogether. We should without a doubt make it a priority. But when we're looking at our spending, we should be putting our health first, because without it we won't be able to enjoy any of the other line items in our budget. So often our health starts with what we consume and put into our body.
So this season, I'm going to be revamping my family's grocery list. I'm going to try to cook and feed everyone healthier. I'm going to get creative with my budget, but also try to remember that when it comes down to eating well or retiring early, eating well should be invested in first.
I'm not saying this change will be completely successful. We'll probably slip. I'll probably make a mistake or two, purchasing something for too much because I'm not totally familiar with this sector of the market yet, or buying something I think is good for us, but is really just marketed well. Will-power may ebb. I'm human. And so is my family.
But we're really going to try. Because this is really important. And I want to be healthy when I'm 70, even if it means I'm not as wealthy as I'd like to be.