Friday, June 8, 2012

CSA Week 1

 I was so excited to get our first basket! DH picked it up while I was at work, and when I got home he had it all spread out on the table (except for the fridge stuff) for me to see and he took a picture too.

All in all, we got:
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Mini Romaine
  • Hot House Tomato
  • Green Kale
  • Seedless Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Green Onions
  • Rhubarb
  • Chocolate Plum Tomatoes
  • Rainbow Sweet Potatoes
  • Beet Thinnings (baby beets with the greens attached)
  • Apples
  • Strawberries (quart)
  • Locally packaged frozen blueberries
  • Raw Goats Milk Feta Cheese
  • Breadcrumbs from a local bakery

As soon as we got it, I made us a little snack plate from some of the plum tomatoes, strawberries and cheese. When I took bite of the tomato I was delighted at just how tomato-ey it tasted. But when I took a bite of the strawberry I was almost sad to realize I had completely forgotten what strawberries taste like! DH said the same thing. We've grown so accustomed to eating the enormous strawberries that taste like water that our grocery store sells that we forgot about the lovely sweetness and the depth of flavour a strawberry can have. Really and truly forgot.

So I'm already sold on this. I'm so glad we signed up for it! At $53/week, it's a bit more expensive than the grocery store, but I don't think it's that really much more expensive. I think we got good value in this basket (although DH was a bit miffed about getting breadcrumbs as our pantry item). And if we can get through all of those greens, I will be so proud of us!

The first thing I did this morning was use the rhubarb to make an upside down cake (sorry my photography isn't as good as DH's).

Here's the recipe, which was actually recommended to us by the CSA (they give us recipe ideas for some of the basket contents each week).

This cake is incredible! So soft and dense, and the rhubarb is so juicy that it totally soaks the cake. After making this, I have no idea why anyone uses pineapple, the juiciness of the rhubarb is so much better!

Eating Better - A Four Month Trial

DH and I made a decision this summer to try to eat better. The tough part was figuring out what better means. We settled on trying to eat as much local, organic, seasonal food as possible, to eat more produce (especially cruciferous greens) and cut out processed foods. We decided to do our best to support local farmers who work on a smaller scale to produce good, nutritious food and take care of the earth, but in practice it's a little tricky to find them when you live in the heart of a big city. Our other priorities were to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing how much imported food we eat and to buy hormone/pesticide free when the cost isn't prohibitive in the hopes of getting a little more nutritional value out of our food. We're also trying to eat non-corn fed meat because we feel we eat too much corn already given that it's hidden in everything.

We both have a distrust for "organic" labels given how loosely regulated the use of that word is, so we're not really willing to pay an extra $4/lb for butter with the word organic on the label. Given how much butter I use in my baking, there is no way it would be feasible for what we both perceive as a small marginal benefit.

Finding a source for produce was the easiest part. We joined a local CSA that we trust carefully screens its farmers with similar goals in mind. We can pick up our food basket from them once every two weeks and it will contain fruits, veggies, a cheese and a pantry item. Next was finding a source for meat. We have two butchers in our area who sell local and/or organic meats as well as grass-fed beef, so we're going to start buying from them instead of the grocery store. It's a bit further of a walk to get to them, but that's good for us too.

We're still working out what we're going to do about dairy. Our local grocery store carries some organic, local dairy, but the cost is very high. And there are some things I'm not willing to give up, like my mini probiotic yogurt drinks. Grains like flour and cereal are also something that we have not yet found a feasible way to buy locally, we use way too much of them to bear the cost increase.

So we're not the most hardcore local/organic foodies, but we're trying really hard to make a few changes for the better where it makes sense for use. We've committed to this as a trial for the summer. In September we'll carefully consider if we're feeling healthier, if the food is tasting better, if we feel good about our environmental impact and if it's worth the extra that we're spending, and we'll make a decision as to whether it's worth it to keep on with it.

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