Friday, July 25, 2008

Produce


As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been doing pretty well shopping at independent, local stores for things like birthday gifts and the like. We have a lovely toy store close by, and a bead store, as well as fairly good second hand book store, though sadly one not nearly as nice as Changing Hands which is too far away for us to shop at regularly. I am not however doing at all well at shopping locally for our produce.

I think that there are several reasons for this the first and most obvious of which is finance. We are like many, feeling the pinch economically as prices go up, and wages don’t. This means that I am being more careful than ever with the housekeeping money by trying to make it stretch as far as possible, and so I find myself gravitating towards Sprouts Farmer’s Market , which has all the expected benefits of a national chain store. It is convenient and competetively priced, though of course for the most part the produce they sell is not grown locally. I have found that despite having several lovely farmers markets here in the valley, one of which is also quite close by, they tend to be more expensive than I had hoped. I am not quite sure why this is, or whether this is true in other states where growing things may be a bit less labor intensive than here in our hot, and arid climate.

Another reason sadly is convenience. It is simply more convenient to shop at a local grocery store any day one chooses rather than going to the farmers market on the days that it is open. I know people that do this, but somehow I can't get organized enough to get there regularly each week, what with family, school, work etc.

Another thing I had planned on doing was signing up for CSA farm produce. “Community Supported Agriculture” is a nationwide organization that provides individuals with the opportunity to buy shares of produce from local farms. There are several CSA farms here in the valley, one of which we signed up with several years ago and were very happy with. Once again, it isn’t always the cheapest way to get produce, but you know it is local, and fresh, and it builds a wonderful sense of community knowing that you are supporting the vital cause of small scale farming. I am not quite sure why I have been holding back from doing this again, there is really no good reason except perhaps that I am so conscious of our budget and not wanting to be wasteful. Last time I was not at all organized, well most of the time I was hardly coherent. I had just given birth to our first bundle of joy, and I was most definitely not up to the challenge of leafing through cookery books to find innovative recipes for kohlrabi. I am very ashamed to say that some of the lovely veggies we got ended up on our compost heap. (My DH has never quite let me forget this, and I can’t say I blame him!) What a waste and I HATE waste! I think at the moment it all comes down to feeling so darned busy all the time, and that makes me feel overwhelmed. When I feel this way I revert to strictly planning our meals and shopping accordingly. In some strange way this makes me feel like I have some semblance of control over the chaos.

Perhaps my saving grace here in the valley is that we have two growing seasons for vegetables. Planting for the fall season starts at the beginning of August, and I have big plans for our veggie garden this fall. I have a lot of work to do to get enough growing space ready, but I love that kind of work, so that is not a problem. I am still such amateur gardener, but I hope that I will manage to grow enough to be able to supplement our produce needs, so that buying locally more often doesn’t seem to be such an overwhelming task. I hope so anyway.

I really wish that I could present myself as a shining example of how easy it is to buy locally, and to live sustainably. Instead I fear that I am more of a shining example of how difficult it can be to do both within the confines of our modern lives. That doesn't mean that I am not trying though. I mean it is what I believe in, what I am completely passionate about. My intention is still as strong as ever, and there is always tomorrow, which is Saturday............ Farmers Market Day!

(The picture is of Pike's Place Farmers Market, Seattle).

6 comments:

Amy said...

A random question for the "amatuer gardner" (sorry it has nothing to do with this post, as insightful as it was)....do you happen to know anything ferns?

We adopted three nice sized ones when we moved into this house. Two of them were half dead so went to cut the dead sections but got carried away and hacked off just about all of them. Do ferns grow back or will I have to dispose of them? : (

(I'm so used to the desert plants that seem to grow faster the more you prune them.)

Mo said...

I am guessing that it depends if only the foliage was dead or the whole plant. (Sorry, that sounds obvious now that I read it!) I have a fern that got scorched by the sun and the foliage died but I trimmed it back and it is coming back. Most plants will come back after being trimmed as long as they are fundamentally healthy. Were they in hanging baskets by any chance? If so they may have dried out unless watered rather frequently. Don't know if any of that helps or makes any sense. I don't really know what I am talking about you know! :)

Amy said...

Why yes! They were in hanging baskets. I didn't even consider that having anything to do with it. The one that is in a pot is doing well. Sounds like I need to be watering more.

Most of those two particular plants were dead but a small portion seemed to be surviving. Hopefully they'll grow back.

Thanks for the insight. It may have sounded fundamental to you but I've got a "brown thumb" and need even the most basic of advice.

Mo said...

I am sure if they have bits that are still alive they will come back soon with water and some TLC! :)

J said...

I am also looking for the freshest and best priced produce in the valley and have become a regular contributor to a produce co-op called bountiful baskets.

Check them out at
www.bountifulbaskets.org

Mo said...

Thank you! That looks really interesting and I love the ideals of coops. I will definitely be considering this.