What a lovely wet morning. The birds are serenading me through the window & the sun is hiding her face. Mornings like these make you feel as though the whole world has slowed down. Whether you read this post over morning coffee, or during your evening glass of wine please prepare yourself with enough time for some reflections.
This past weekend was the Georgia Organic’s conference, this is a great program connecting Georgia’s food web. Attendees & presenters came from all over the state along with visitors from our neighboring states. Georgia Organics is unique in that it is the only state centric program of this magnitude in the southeast. Growers, chefs, grocers, community activists, eaters, home gardeners, professors, researchers & students in various agriculture focused majors were all in attendance. It provided for a very interesting dynamic, with loads of wisdom from leaders in every field.
If you have not yet visited their site I encourage you to check out what events, & projects are happening in your part of the state. For home growers & eaters they have a plethora of information on getting started & troubleshooting.
This conference was a culmination of my first year of farming. You have all shared in a year of my thoughts & growth as you have read the CSA blog. You have shared in the army of gnats, the sweetness of melons & the mercy of the weather patterns. Our farm is so grateful for your continued support, your choice to be a part of our CSA has required sacrifice in many forms: time required to prepare meals, the financial commitment, scheduling to pick up your box, among many other sacrifices.
A question was presented in one of the discussion classes, it has since lingered like a fog at the edge of my thoughts. Think on this question and try to answer it for yourself & your family.
“What do we need to sacrifice in order to make the local/organic movement sustainable?”
As a collective most people will say one of the largest obstacles for moving over to a healthier/organic/local/natural “diet” is the prohibitive cost. I want to challenge this notion, for an alternative perspective. What if it is not that the food is too expensive, but rather we do not value food?
The average American household spends 10% or less on food expenses, whereas Europe…. spend between 15-20% on their diets. If you doubled your grocery budget, would it be as prohibitive? If you increased your grocery budget, you would have to sacrifice portions of your cable/smart phone/going out/online shopping/etc. Is it a sacrifice worth making? Is your long term health worth giving up some present indulgences?
Other thoughts could be as simple as frequency & volume. We are jokingly referred to as the “supersized nation” our meals are portioned to sizes that are more than what is needed by our daily energy requirement. We are eating in excess, and it shows. If we ate smaller portions, we would not need large volumes of organic/local produce & meats. The topic of frequency is a touchy subject as well, we are taught to eat meat protein at each and every meal. The only way that an average American family can afford to eat to like that, is to eat commodity produced meats. We all know what that looks like for the animal, the environment and for our health. I am not advocating for not eating meat but rather eating better quality, less frequently. Feed your family a chuck roast or tenderloin once a day rather than “cellulose injected meat like products” three times a day. If you need higher protein intakes, eat eggs they are inexpensive and a complete protein packet.
If cost still seems prohibitive, be creative think outside the box. Organ meats are an inexpensive nutrient dense option, buy in bulk (purchase ½ or ¼ of an animal) you can split the cost with a friend, start a garden to offset some of your vegetable needs, save scraps(veg, meat & bones)to make broth/stocks, learn to cook/pickle/preserve/can/ferment. Any steps that you can learn so that you don’t have to purchase “produced products” saves you money. If you learn how to “break a bird” (check youtube), you can eat all of the beautiful pieces as well as using the bones & scraps for soups.
The sacrifice is not only a financial burden, but one of time. It takes time to cook, time well spent, but time just the same. As our work days become longer, our time in the kitchen becomes smaller. Believe me I know what a burden cooking can be, we leave the field after 8+ hours in the heat/rain/cold etc. the last thing I want to do is spend another hour in the kitchen working. We get it. However, there is this wonderful invention known as the crockpot. Or plan ahead, I like spending Sunday’s in the kitchen prepping veggies for quick meals during the week, or making meals ahead of time.
For you out there feeding a family, we support your struggle. You are making a wonderful choice for your family, even if they don’t always appreciate weird vegies & strange meals. Stay strong, you are protecting their health and healing the earth with each thoughtful meal you prepare. It is difficult to make a healthy choice for your family if they aren’t on board. Pinterest is a wonderful resource for making meals that are appealing to the pickiest eaters!
The next time you struggle with eating well, whether it be cost or time, reconsider your options. Give up the weekly visit to Starbucks in favor of a cartoon of pastured eggs, or going out to the movies on Sunday in favor of entertaining yourself in the kitchen with cooking meals while watching Julia Childs on youtube. You always have options, you can alter your perspective on a problem.
I stared you with a question, and I want to leave you with a quote:
“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough” –William Blake
Please send me your thoughts & struggles to my email, I would love to continue this discussion: Mary.Bruce@whiteoakpastures.com
Organic Share List:
Pecans: Raw, muffins, scones, cookies, pies, desert pies, ice cream toppings.
Braising Mix or Salad Greens: These specialty greens have a variety of uses that are sure to tickle your taste buds. Sauteed sides, hearty salads, stir-fry creations and so much more.
Brussel Sprouts: You will have a stalk of little glorious cabbages in your share this week. They are highly coveted on the farm so enjoy them fully!
Sprouts OR Spinach: Please! Please! Please! Check out their website. This will give you tips & tricks on best sprout practices. Our first Spinach leaves have arrived! This highly desired plant is nutrient dense & wildly versatile.
Carrots OR Beets OR Rutabaga: Sweet tender and ready to eat raw; carrots can be included in salads, roasted, braised, & in soups. Try beets pickled, in a salad, roasted with goat cheese, as a dessert sweetener, or in juice. Rutabagas are perfect for roasting, smashing & creaming. They are a lovely side accompaniment.
Arugula: This nutty green can be eaten raw, enjoyed sauteed, or even added to sandwiches & soups.
Swiss Chard: Wonderful greens for several culinary options! Showcase these beauties in your next quiche, sauteed side, or salad creation!
Chinese Cabbage: This elegant green can be sauteed, stir fried, eaten raw, added to soups, stews, dumplings, spring and egg rolls!
Garlic: Spicy earthy heat. A root with sensational properties. Include in tonics, roasted, stir-fry, pickled creations, dressing, and freshly juiced
Rosemary: Breads, soups, herb rubs, olive oil infusions.