The best food doctrine may be no doctrine at all. In his new book, An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, Tyler Cowen argues that while Americans will pay a pretty penny to eat well, expensive food isn't always the best. He shares his tips on eating food that's better for you, your wallet, and the environment.
1. Embrace imported food
"The locavore movement claims local food is better for the environment, but food from far away is often transported by boat, which actually costs very little in terms of energy. If you purchase something from a farmer who has to drive hours to reach distant markets that call themselves 'local,' that's not very fuel efficient."
2. Break your habits.
"After a certain age, most people have a very set supermarket routine that keeps them from trying new foods. For one month, try an ethnic or new supermarket. Even the simple act of learning a new store layout will force you to change your habits and consider alternative products—which can actually end up helping you save money."
3. Eat regional, not local.
"Consider what your environment is good at. For example, the United States is very good at mixing—cultures, workers, ideas, and food. Composition-intensive dishes will be most satisfying. In contrast, simpler is better in places such as Italy, where recipes have been the same for years. Less immigration can mean less innovation in food."
A version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.