Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fresh! Local! Organic! Expensive.

My friend Twosquare made an inspiring post the other day about how all her local farmers markets are starting to open up, bursting with fresh produce, a veritable cornucopia of colors, flavors and GOOD produce. It made me reminiscent of our days in France, going to our Nantes market to get all we would need for a few days' tasty nourishment.

Well, there are a few farmer's markets in the Atlanta area, I haven't really researched it, but I know the Episcopal church in Buckhead has one. With this momentum, I was ecstatic when my friend Rachel told me about Moore Farms and Friends They take online orders for weekly produce, and have delivery points all around Atlanta. And you don't have to sign up for some long-term collective, or end up with 2 lbs of carrots or something. For a mere $20 you get a bushel-full (so I imagined) of fresh, seasonal goodies. For a few bucks extra you can pick your produce, or add things like eggs, sausage, herbs and other fun stuff.

We submitted our orders together last week, and have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our box O yummy fresh things.

When she and I met to exchange produce we looked at our few little vegetables rolling around at the bottom of the box, and big bag of leafy greens, then looked at each other, and said "Hm, not sure if its worth it." Really, I wanted to be excited, but I had in mind what I could get for $20 at my local International farmer's market (where, I'm sure, the produce is chemical-laden, buggy, and not as farm-fresh). Instead, my box had just 2 (scrumptious-looking) large yellow squash, 2 (bright-red, firm) tomatoes, a big bag full of field-greens and 5 carrots.

Everything looked delicious, even if I didn't know what the heck the large stalks of green, leafy goodness were in the bag next to the fresh-picked red-leaf lettuce.

I can now say that everything TASTES delicious, too. (Well, we haven't tried the tomatoes yet). We chopped, oiled, roasted, sauteed and tossed the veggies with some pasta, parmesan and bacon and mmmmm, it was really tasty.

BUT, $20? I just don't know. I love veggies, and I love the earth and stuff, but I think if I get real serious about local, it may have to come from my backyard. Its a nice splurge when opportunity knocks, but I'm not sure I'll make this my weekly produce regimen.

Pictured: Odd leafy green things. Peppery, slightly leathery when raw, tasty when sauteed with garlic and bacon. (but really, what ISN'T).
Any guesses as to what this stuff is?


Andrew said...

No idea what the leafy green thing is.

Good timing on the post. I'm about to start reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and am a little nervous about the influence it will have on my food buying decisions.

The Berry Clan said...

i'm guessing kale....glad to be in touch again!

TwoSquareMeals said...

It's pretty green leafy stuff...whatever it is. We just started our CSA last week. It's mostly lettuce right now, which means I still have to buy veggies for the boys. (Though they do love the bok choy!)

I think it will work out. It's $18 a week, and once the season picks up we will have enough produce variety to feed all of us for the week at dinner. We get to choose how we spend our money from a list of available produce. And we can spend more if we want to.

I never said switching to local and organic would be cheap. You do have to remember that more money goes to the farmers this way and less money and fuel are used to ship the produce from CA or Chile or wherever. Also, the more rural a place you live, the cheaper it is, since big city CSA's cater to yuppies who want to jump on the "green" bandwagon.

Actually, I think the local thing is even more important to me than the organic thing. We still only buy the "dirty dozen" in organic varieties when we shop at our grocery store and buy everything else conventional. If you have a bigger farmer's market that is still local, though not all organic, you may want to check that out for better prices. We have just changed our diet to include a lot more vegetarian dishes or dishes that just use a little meat for flavor. We also decided to skimp on other things and to up our food budget to support the decision.

Don't feel guilty if it isn't for you!

That said, I can't wait for fresh, local, organic (?), and cheap in China!