It is still early spring, (as this weekend's rain has attested) and though the garden is producing some highly anticipated produce, we do still have to shop to make up the balance of our groceries. As food has become more and more central to our lives, our shopping habits seem more and more schizophrenic; more like a family with a major eating disorder than a farm family "in touch" with what we eat... Mid-summer through fall it's easy enough to make dinner by walking out into the garden and "shop" among the rows of vegetables. In winter too, our freezer and root cellar supplies us the the majority of our needs. However, when spring comes and supplies are sparse, (and the household is full) we have to make lists and make frequent trips to the supermarket. ("frequent" because we often forget those lists at home.)
Its then that Stacy, who does most-- if not all-- of the shopping, enters the ethical battleground of how to buy food. Which criteria to follow? Local, Organic, Affordable, Taste, Mileage to Drive? A hierarchy develops, but then to complicate things further, how many different stores can she visit before the baby needs a nap? If time only permits one store; which one? Diving deeper, she struggles with individual products: Generic Brand, Organic, Local Product, Which one will Emma eat? How much compromise is she ready to take on today?!
Oh yeah, one more variable to really put the screws on: How much time in this busiest of seasons do we even have to cook and eat well? Dare we divulge to our CSA community how many take-out pizzas we consume in the spring-time???
We are always working towards a goal of eating and living in a more sustainable manner, but in Springtime, before the fields really start producing, and with time at an absolute premium, you might see Stacy plying the aisles of Hannafords with a cart full of Rice Krispies, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate chips.
The good news is that there is an active group in Portland developing the idea of a new place to shop: a Portland Food Coop. Ever since the Whole Grocer closed (and even before) there have been rumblings about a storefront co-operative which stands firmly committed to local sustainable products. We want a place to buy food that does not rely on slick advertising that essentially plays on our best intentions (and fears) to navigate beyond industrial agriculture. It can be a cluttered and confusing food landscape, but as we work towards forming direct relationships with our food producers, whether it is Maple's Ice Cream, or Jim Gerritson's potatoes, (or our own gardens) the battleground clears and we experience true food security.
Stacy joined the steering committee of the Coop this past winter, and having recently become incorporated, they are about to put the final touches on by-laws. They are working to develop a basic membership structure to start an initial membership drive. But, much work remains undone. What it needs are more people to dedicate time in the next 2 years to sit on committees and do the hard work that needs to be done to get the doors open. There are multiple committees working on different projects that need more volunteer energy. At the recent retreat, the 21 people who attended all agreed to bring one more person along to a committee meeting to increase our volunteer effort and move the project forward. So, Stacy is looking for one person to bring with her to the next committee meeting. Pyramid scheme, anyone?
This week's harvest:
Strawberrys to go with that rhubarb should please most folks. But we also have the makings of a very interesting salad. The Pea Tendrils are a very gourmet item which can be cut bite-sized into a salad of lettuce, mizuna, and radishes. Don't worry, we are not sacrificing our future peas; these are cover crop field peas which happen to be producing delicious little buds. Dice the scapes while they are still tender and add them on top. (In succeeding weeks they may get tougher.) The tomato seedling is really only for those among you who have a patio or small garden space. Why are we offering them?
#1. We have them as extra.
#2. CSA is only second best; home grown is always king.
#3. A cheap way for us to have everyone experience the difficulties in getting a good tomato off a vine, and thus an ounce of sympathy.
#4. We gave out basil last week and you can't have one without the other.
#5. Even if you can't put it in the ground, or get it to produce a tomato, smell the leaves and it will bring you back to any summer garden you've ever been in.
#6. We're sick of planting tomatoes! We have enough! Take it!
Blessings on the meal.
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