If you're a dairy-loving vegetarian you couldn't find a better life outside England. Organic milk in the supermarket is cheaper by the gallon than Costco. If you want grass-fed, happy goat milk yogurt, you don't pay a lot more for it. You can't make your own butter for as little as you can buy it here. And the cheese. Where do I start? I have a favorite wild rice and mushroom recipe that calls for Gruyere but I only make it when I feel flush, like around pay day when the account still has a positive balance. The first time I shopped at our local Waitrose, there was a block of cave aged Gruyere on sale for the equivalent of $2.50 and I nearly dropped to my knees and wept. Then I discovered the Cheese Man at the bi-weekly town market and was taking home rolls and balls and chunks of cheese for less than I spend on a jar of Nutella.
But the meat. I used to have so much organic chicken and wild caught salmon in my chest freezer that I had to have multiple dinner parties to get through it before we left town. The first time we ate English Atlantic-caught salmon I thought I'd done something terribly wrong during the cooking. It was dry. It was bland. It was NOT from Alaska. Salmon was the first flesh I crossed off my English shopping list.
When I started pricing my protein standby, chicken, I came to have a new respect for the cost of living in this country. The supermarkets are packed with meat but how are these people budgeting for their meat consumption? I'll be the first to tell you I don't hesitate to spend money for good food. But when your good food meter has been set at a certain price point, it's pretty hard to ratchet it up several rungs. Organic chicken thighs? $13.55/lb. Organic chicken tenders? $17.88/lb. Non-organic chicken that probably grew up in 5 inches of space and fed offal? $10.40/lb.