Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where do you get your produce?

One of my goals for the year has been to be better about how and where I procure my produce. I like to know my vegetables are organic, but I also know receiving the organic label can be a bit of a gimmick. Plus, I find it nearly impossible to buy the organic celery sitting next the regular celery at Pick n' Save. I tend to think about what else I could do with that dollar (like buy sushi for dinner instead of cooking).

The first thing my husband and I did to improve how we get our produce was to set a goal of going to more Farmers Markets. We failed to show up at the indoor Farmers Market held during the winter, but in our defense, we didn't learn about it until March. (So you have a fighting chance this winter, here's more information.) We still have time to fail at going regularly this summer.

Early this spring I started researching CSA's after getting inspired by a wonderful Wisconsin Foodie that featured Springdale Farms. The big hindrance for me? Having to pay out all that money up front. Intellectually, I know  I  am an essential investor and my returns are the fruits and vegetables. As my bank statements and net worth will tell you, I am no venture capitalist, even for fruits and vegetables.

So, next option? Growing Power. You can find out more at their website, but Will Allen is our celebrity urban farmer here in Milwaukee (or anywhere, for that matter) and they are a great organization. They were an excellent choice for produce, although not always organic. I only had to commit one week at a time to my order, and the price was reasonable. I did have to use my lunch hour to pick up the produce, but I was pretty content.

And then...the greatest employer's wellness program. Frankly, this whole wellness program has been a big pain in the you-know-what. I work out, as you know, a fair amount. I just ran a half marathon, people! The amount of work it takes to get credit for a daily workout is more time consuming than me workout some days. Anyway, my employer is partnering with Brewer's Organics. So far, they are wonderful! I get a box of produce delivered to my office on Friday (or, every other Friday, as I choose). I have until Wednesday at midnight to sub out fruits and vegetables that I may not like, and I can always add additional items for their market value. Everything is always certified organic (although not necessarily local, and I can't quite decide what is more important...).

The best part, however, is I don't get in a food rut. It forces me to be more creative with my vegetables, to really make sure we don't get lazy and eat frozen pizza three nights in a row for dinner (I have never actually done that, but it kind of sounds good). I have tried a few new vegetables, like ramps, and accidentally let some things go bad, like apricots after Memorial Day weekend.

Oh, and I planted some peppers and tomatoes! I am hoping to reap more than I did last year! Thank you, drought, for stunting my adorable eggplants and at the size that would only make Barbie full!
My promising eggplant blossom last year.

Just so you know, I am not advocating/or disparaging any kind of produce program. If I have any agenda, it is simply that eating fruits and vegetables is important. And secondly, that I think it is good to consider how those fruits and vegetables were obtained. I know I am very lucky to have the food choices I do! If anyone has any local produce tricks or thoughts, let me know.