Monday, February 25, 2008

Princliple IV and the Spring Tease

We have been joking/playing around about the Thrifty Kitchen principles. Loosely, they embody what we have been doing around here … trying to eat, live and be well while staying within budget. And I am happy to report that the first two months of Thrifty Kitchen living were mostly a success. Principle number four, however, was somewhat less than a success and sadly the most neglected principle to date. Can you eat seasonal, local and organic food on a budget? I honestly want to believe that you can. I really want to believe. Really, really want to believe. But my gut is telling me that compromises must be made.

So how? How is my little kitchen going to satisfy this fantastic ideal?

First off, I realize that I need to keep track of what is in season in this disconnected world of well traveled produce. The following is an excerpt from a Special ‘Green’ Section of the San Francisco Chronicle (April 2007) with a month by month summary of seasonal foods. The blossoms outside our house signal we are safely within the:

First Hint of Spring (February or March)
Root vegetables, braised meats, sauerkraut, winter greens, dried beans, citrus fruits, corned beef, cabbage, asparagus, and kiwi.

Good to know. So, even if I can’t afford to go organic I can at least menu plan and buy my produce according to what is in season. Now, how about the organic and local bit of principle four?

Farmer’s Market shopping is decidedly off-budget, no matter how glorious and wonderful the experience. The same Chronicle article propelled me to look into other options, specifically a weekly delivery of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) produce. I visited Local Harvest and easily navigated my way to two farms with weekly produce box drop offs nearby, one only a mile away from our house. After looking at the price ($17/box), we decided to sign up for a four-week trial.

I have fantastic visions of collecting our produce … Looking it over. Feeling it in our hands. Washing it. And planning meals based on seasonal, local and organic ingredients. Mmmm. So watch out principle four, you may be less of an ideal than I first guessed.

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