Friday, June 24, 2011

Unpicky and picky at the same time

I wrote a blogpost a couple of years ago about being a vegetable snob and I've posted tons about my love of Farmers' Markets....who would have ever thought I'd get over it...kind of! During this time I also subscribed to CSA (community supported agriculture) and picked up weekly organic vegetables from a local farm in Santa Cruz in addition to frequenting every Farmers Market within 30 miles of my home....and that's alot of Farmers' Markets!

When I first started to buy organic only I shopped at Whole Foods for my veggies as I believe it was around the late fall winter time and I hadn't truly discovered FM's yet. But once I did I stopped shopping at Whole Foods for veggies but still bought the rest of my groceries there. I would shop the FM in the morning and then drive about 1 mile to WF and it always amazed me that there were a ton of people buying produce there instead of the farm fresh produce practically within walking distance!

I'm not sure when it happened, over a year ago for sure, but not only did I let up on the pressure I put on myself to only eat and buy organic, but I've actually started shopping at Safeway again! I think up until this past year I hadn't stepped foot in a Safeway in maybe three or four years. Even before that though I started to shop again at my local Mexican and Vietnemese markets too.

Why the change? A few reasons. I realized I was putting too much pressure and stress on "being perfect" and it was exhausting. I realized that I had managed to lose over 120 lbs without ever eating an organic vegetable, buying most of my produce at the Ethnic markets closest to me (and saving tons of $$). I also read in one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, one of my absolute favorite cookbook authors (more about his books to come) that it was common for him to shop in stores like Safeway for two simple reasons. He wanted his cookbook readers to be able to find the ingredients he uses in his recipes easily and because he travels so much and often cooks while visiting friends and relatives he is sure to find a "regular" grocery much easier than specialty stores. If it was good enough for him it was good enough for me!

In addition to buying non organic produce again I also started to buy mostly non organic animal proteins, instead of the fancy smancy ones...I know, I know.... I know all the dirty stuff on the meat industry as well as all the dirt in industrial agriculture (no pun intended)...I read Omnivoire's Dilemma twice! But really, it's the stress that kills not the un organic foods. I grew up on nothing organic and somehow I survived my childhood.

After everything I just wrote however I am still picky when it comes to a few things. Buying seasonal produce is way more important to me that organic but I did force myself to buy grapes out of season just this past year. Tomatoes top my list of unseasonal no-no's followed by asparagus corn and summer squashes like zucchini. And for the life of me I can't believe how popular strawberries are no matter what the time of year. It drives me so crazy that I stopped buying strawberries altogether. (you'll not find one recipe with strawberries anywhere on my blog since it's beginnings 4 years ago)

But does anyone know the season of onion, celery and carrots? I don't have a problem buying those year round! Same with apples. Unlike onions celery and carrots, fruit is quite easy to figure out what's in season, so apples are really the only fruit that I make an exception for. I practically lie in wait for persimmons, cherries, apricots, all stone fruits and the king of melons...the Crenshaw.

As far as meats go (and eggs). I have to admit that my conscious feels a little bit better when I buy "designer" proteins (that's what I call "organic", "grass fed", "air chilled" etc), I mean who wouldn't prefer to eat an animal that is fed in pasture? I do feel "cleaner"....but I can't live my whole life worried about those kind of details 24/7. I buy designer when I can and if I feel like it, and the rest of the time I still enjoy my food whether or not it comes from WF, or Foster Farms. I believe every animal sacrificed for our eating pleasure, organic or not, deserves to not be wasted.

Around here Spring was a wash, literally with unseasonably cold and rainy weather, but here we are the first week of summer, finally! I have been to the Famers Market in Palo Alto after Saturday classes for the past 3 weeks....oh my goodness.... I was quickly remided of the beauty of it all. It was like I could breathe again. I so was overwhelmed that I didn't know where to I didn't! I did manage to bring myself to buy asparagus since I know the season would be over in a blink of an eye (I was already late), and pasture fed chicken livers. But tomorrow I will be ready and since I took my last container of tomato soup out of the freezer to thaw in the sink I'm hoping to stock up again...with a vengence!

I'm not planning on returning to my old picky ways, but I will plan on taking advantage of truly seasonal foods only buying things I know I won't be able to get anywhere else. Let's see what I come home with tomorrow!

Picure above is my last container of tomato soup I made in Sept/Oct last year. I ate it with some brown rice and chunks of lamb and turkey meatloaf.....omg! I always label my freezer containers with athletic tape because that's what I have in one of my kitchen drawers! You may notice that the label says that the tomato soup is unseasoned....that's because I was so sick of making batch after batch after batch that I couldn't bring myself to taste anymore! Boy, I was so glad I did all that work though! (recipe for lamb and turkey meatloaf to come)


Maribel said...

It's funny how we change over time...or re prioritize, is more like it.

Like with my first child, I boiled bottles, paci's etc. With my second it was all about the 5 second rule. LOL!

It's hard to not get caught up in the "save the world" syndrome. I used to feel so guilty, but in the end, you just do what you can and are able to do.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Great comparison!

I'm trying the oats tonight!