Anybody who knows that my daily lunch always consists of a peanut butter sandwich and a banana will be surprised to learn that I've recently been thinking a lot more about the food I eat.
I'm a fairly healthy eater. I eat meat about 4 or 5 meals a week and eat fruit (the aforesaid banana) and vegetables each day, although not as much as I should. I don't eat a lot of chips or junk food, although I do have a soft spot for chocolate and Chips Deluxe cookies.
My concerns are now centered not so much on what I eat as on where that food comes from. Exactly how much gas and energy does it take to ship those bananas my way? Do I really need to eat strawberries in the middle of the winter, or can I substitute them for something that's in season?
I like the idea of eating organic foods, but I'm just too much of a cheapskate. It's hard to spend double -- at least -- when the picture doesn't even look good on the box. I like the idea of buying local and plan on making more of an effort to do just that when the greenmarkets open around here in the next month or so.
"Buying local," however, is relative. In Ohio, that means it was planted and picked maybe a couple of miles away. In New York City, it's from a couple of hundred miles away.
I recently heard that our neighborhood is trying to start a food co-op, so. Paul and I got up bright and early Saturday morning to attend a meeting at the public library to learn more. They hope to open late next year and stock it much like a grocery store-- a one-stop shopping experience for co-op members who put up a couple of hundred bucks (refundable) to become part owners.
It's an intriguing idea, but the emphasis seems to be as much on saving money as getting good food. Members would cut an anticipated 20 percent off of their grocery bills but also would have to volunteer at the co-op for a few hours every month. I'm cheap, but I guess I'm also lazy. I think I would rather just pay a few cents more and be able to stay at home.
Which brings me to another option: a CSA. Bay Ridge's Community Supported Agriculture program brings "farm-fresh, pesticide free, locally grown, affordable" vegetables to the neighborhood, according to the website. Members buy a "share" of the harvest and receive their portion every week (or every two weeks) between June and November.
This seems like a good option. But what if I get vegetables I don't like? At $495 for the every week option (or $265 for every other week), I definitely don't want to be throwing produce away.
Well, I'm off to make tomorrow's peanut butter sandwich. I would appreciate any suggestions, tips or advice!