Saturday, September 3, 2011

Food Choices

Grocery shopping used to be about spotting brands that I recognized as gluten free.  Once I started shopping for two, I learned to shop for the cheapest items.  When Dave was a child, he once asked his mom, "Why do they even have things that aren't on sale if nobody buys them?"  Slowly, though, Dave and I started defining items that we were willing to splurge on.  First it was cage free, grain fed eggs.  Why would we want eggs from chickens who aren't healthy?  (You can honestly taste a difference.)  Next, we decided that carrots that sat in pesticide-filled soil couldn't be that healthy and we switched to organic carrots.  This became a slippery slope.  Oftentimes at the grocery store, organic food could be as much as twice as expensive.  I then attempted to buy only grain fed meats.  This got pricey really quickly and I stopped.  (We don't eat much meat.)

As you know, this summer I started with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and every week, June through December, I go pick up a box of veggies down the street delivered from an organic farm 90 miles from here.  This has been an adventure, but a disappointing one.  The vegetable varieties we have gotten are not at all good.  No one wants to eat four types of lettuce every day for two months as well as kale and spinach ontop of it.  No one can eat their 5th head of cabbage in a month without their digestive track going on strike.  Turnips are the most foul thing I have ever tasted and although kohlrabi is edible, what would possess a farmer to believe that their customers would want three of them in one week?  The best thing we've gotten from them are some green beans, broccoli, and, thus far, only four tomatoes, even though I have probably harvested half a bushel of tomatoes and basil from my own garden already.  Lucky for me, we have three more months of mystery boxes.  Maybe at some point we'll get vegetables I actually like to eat, like peppers, perhaps.  Our grocery store labels everything that is "Colorado Grown" with a special sticker and suddenly buying local is really important to me.

Dave made spring rolls that used up some of our cabbage.
This week, after years of teaching climate change in my courses, I finally had a moment where it seemed ridiculous that I buy coffee that is grown in a place where the rain forest was likely cut down to make fields of coffee beans.  Today I spent 15 minutes staring at the bags of coffee trying to find some damn shade-grown coffee.  I came up empty handed. I think during Dave's softball game on Thursday, I'll venture into Whole Foods and see if they have some.

Every time I purchase something, I'm supporting, voting for, that product.  I'd hate to support tomatoes that taste like nothing, strawberries shipped from Chile in December, beef that are fed corn, given antibiotics, and spend their lives standing in their own shit.  I'd hate to support McDonalds.  I hate that it is expensive and sometimes really inconvenient to vote properly with my dollars, but I keep trying.  Our food system is out of control.

Today I harvested what was ripe from my garden.  I failed to water it between Tuesday and Saturday due to a trip to Urgent Care, a softball game, and a night out for dinner Wednesday through Friday nights, respectively.  My tomato plants' leaves are crispy and some brown.  I'm just hoping the tons of fruit still on the branches will ripen before the plants die for good.  I got several peppers, a large bowl of tomatoes, more tomatillos, and tons of basil.  I just spent my Saturday night making spaghetti sauce, pesto, and green chili salsa while Dave is at a Phish concert in Commerce City near Denver. 

If you still haven't read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," please do!


KAAlan said...

We also go back and forth. If only we had unlimited funds it would be a lot easier to "vote" properly. Our goal is to eventually not need the stores for only but a select few items. Until then... :)

YellowBunnies said...

Kim, I totally love the idea of eventually only needing the store for a few items. Self sufficient is the way to be! Someday...