Thursday, November 20, 2008

$1 Black Bean and Salsa Soup, with a Side of My Two Cents

So I'm cheap. As we all know. A fact that this recipe got me thinking about once again, given how pleased I was about how inexpensive and quick a recipe it is.

But it's also a recipe that got me thinking yet again about one of the more overlooked issues of veganism, and that's the issue of class/classism, an issue that's all tangled up in the concept and practice of veganism.

I've had friends argue with me that it is more expensive to be vegan than it is to not be vegan. And although I WHOLLY disagree--as long as you're not feasting continually at restaurants and off of processed food (both of which are issues the meat-eating population must contend with as well, which I think is important to note), it's *much* cheaper to be buying fruits and veggies than it is meat and cheeses--I can't overlook the fact that the vegan diet *is* a diet more easily accessible to middle- and upper-class individuals.

I don't say this as a way to discourage individuals FROM eating vegan. I'm by no means saying that someone with a meager-budget couldn't afford to go the vegan path. It's a fairly easy and cheap task if one goes about it correctly.

But my point is this: so much of veganism comes down to accessibility of information, access to education, and how all of that is overwhelmingly tied to class in so very many ways.

The class issues of veganism are a topic that's rarely discussed by vegan food-bloggers. But I'm reminded of them each time I happen upon one of the more upscale vegan food blogs and find myself wondering a) where in god's name do they find the time to COOK such elaborately-prepared meals... daily... and sometimes more than once a day, and b) how in the hell are they able to afford such obscure and expensive ingredients?

And I don't mean to pick on the upscale vegan food blogs. These class issues are apparent in even the simplest, most basic vegan food-blogs. We often forget, but the mere act of being a food blogger reeks of privilege in many ways.

Food-blogging means, of course, having some sort of disposable income to blow on "cooking food for fun." It means having money to spend on recipes that go above and beyond the more basic and inexpensive recipes available to us. And this is a disposable income which many folks don't have. And it also means having disposable time. Again: something which many folks don't have.

But above and beyond that: I know there are many vegan food bloggers out there who don't splurge on unnecessary, extravagant ingredients, and who blog only occasionally because they are too busy to be cooking for fun on a regular basis. BUT EVEN SO: Food-blogging requires having a digital camera. Again: more money. And it requires access to a computer. That means either being able to afford one, or having easy means of accessing one, and this, in turn, means having time to spare. Sitting in a public library, using a school computer-lab, etc. all these things require extra time. And that time is a luxury that many don't have.

Like most of us, I tend to forget that I am lucky in so very many ways to HAVE the money to be able to entertain myself through cooking. I am lucky I don't have to resort to "feasting" on the bare minimum, on fast-food burgers or casseroles-in-a-box, simply because I have just barely enough money to scrape by or because I don't have enough time to cook because I'm too busy working to make ends meet. And I haven't even BEGUN to discuss the other topics I mentioned earlier: namely how class affects our ability to access information and education. But I'm lucky in that regard too. I've had the time and money to be able to educate myself. And I've been lucky enough to have access to information that not everyone has, information that has led me down the path of veganism. Again: another luxury not available to everyone.

I say this as a reminder to myself (and to others) as Thanksgiving grows near, as many of us contemplate Adopting a Turkey instead of feasting on one (again: a luxury), as we contemplate the elaborate feasts we will be crafting, as we try to figure out the best ways to get pictures of it all to post on our food-blogs.

We all have a bad habit of getting angry at folks for not seeing the cruelty inherent in a meat-eating diet. I am no exception. But I think it's important to remind ourselves once in a while that we are lucky people, that we are blessed with access to many things that others do not have--namely money, time, information, and education, and that if we hadn't been graced with these privileges, we could very easily be on an entirely different path right now.

So next time we get all up on our high-horses, let us be humble and reminded of that fact. And let us be thankful.

Phew. Boobies feces dookie nipples! Look at me getting all serious and shit.

Enough of that! On to a recipe.

This soup is similar to the Salsa Chili Soup I posted about back in the day and which I'm also quite a big fan of, simply because it's cheap and takes like 10 minutes to make. And I have to agree with Happy Herbivore: it's delicious.

                                      from Happy Herbivore

  • 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup frozen yellow or roasted corn

  • 1 cup chunky salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups veg broth

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • hot sauce as desired

  • baked corn chips - optional


Place 1 cup beans, salsa, broth and cumin in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients except chips. Stir to combine.

Heat thorougly over low.

Once warmed, serve.

Top the soup off with broken chips.

Note: You can skip the stove top and heat it in the microwave instead, too. My dorm room was without a stove and it worked just fine... but I did burn my tongue off a few times

Makes 4 cups

(Recipe from Happy Herbivore)

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