Saturday, May 29, 2010

$30 Challenge

Today I took a trip to the Amherst Farmers' Market as part of my quest for feeding us healthy, fresh, minimally processed food.  Lately, I have been internet surfing about the cost of eating organic foods and I have been paying closer attention to the cost difference between organic and non-organic products.  I'll be honest here- it's hard not to pay attention to the difference when you try to eat this way as much as possible because the grocery bill does go up.  That said, I do believe that the costs of basing our diets on unhealthy foods may not show up in the grocery bill but they will show up eventually in health problems and quality of life issues.  My goal is to find a balance that allows us to eat the freshest, healthy food without spending unnecessary money.  I'm confident that there is a happy medium there somewhere.  Perfection isn't necessary- I think every small effort for a healthy lifestyle pays big.

So today's shopping trip was for produce and I came up with the idea to set a limit of $30 and see how far it took me.  We're a hungry bunch.  We're active and we eat.  Here are the goods:

- 1/2 lb spinach
-1 head romaine lettuce
-shitake mushrooms
-2 large tomatoes
-1 small tomato
-1 pint sugar snap peas
-1 quart strawberries
-1 pint raspberries
-1 loaf multigrain bread

All of the vendors I bought from were organic and I'm happy with my purchases.  I do have one confession: I did go over budget by $1.  I had $4 left in the budget challenge I set and the pint of raspberries was staring at me.  Yes, they cost $5.  Yes, they taste amazing.  I considered hiding them from my husband before he polishes them off in one sitting, but I guess that would be mean. 

Overall, I felt good about buying from local vendors and farmers.  Amherst isn't a location that's convenient for me to go to every week, but it certainly is worth a trip once in a while and it's motivated me to keep an eye out for other farmers' markets.  If you have any recommendations in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire areas, send them my way! I'm off to eat :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

A movie and a garden....

My sister in law gave me a recommendation to see the movie Food, Inc.  It was scheduled to be on PBS one evening so my husband and I watched it.....and were both horrified about what was presented about our food industry.  I talked about it for days (my apologies to anyone who crossed my path and unknowingly said "How are you?").  I thought about it for even longer. In fact, I'm still thinking.  Really thinking.  I have to be honest that I am someone who has been conscientious about my diet for a while; however, it was always more of a weight management issue.  I'm "blessed" with the type of metabolism where I swear I could gain 5 lbs just by thinking about a whole chocolate cake, never mind actually eating it.  My husband, on the other hand, could sit like a couch potato for months and still sport a six-pack. Argh.  So, to stay in a healthy weight range I watched what I ate....or did I?  That's where this movie really got me going.

My humble synopsis of the movie's premise is that we no longer know where our food is coming from, it's heavily and unsafely processed and we CAN do something about these problems.  Based on this, I started thinking about all the labeled "healthy," "low-fat" alternatives in my diet.  I started looking at the back of ingredient labels of my precious snacks and dessert substitutes and I couldn't understand them- it was like a rocket scientist wrote out the list of ingredients.  This can't be good....when I bake it's flour, sugar, butter, eggs etc.  What the hell was all this stuff listed on the back of the box???

When our daughter was born, we tried to keep her diet as organic as possible.  Now, we realized that we should look at doing the same for our own.  So that's what we're setting out to do: base our diets around as much healthy, unprocessed, fresh, nutritious food as possible.  I can't say we'll be perfect, but we're certainly trying to do it as much as possible and it's a learning experience.

One of our first steps is our new garden.  Truthfully, we had tomato plants (and a couple of failed zucchini plants due to our neglect) the last couple of years and loved how much more flavor and freshness came from them growing right in our own backyard.  So, the idea of expanding the garden did start before this movie.  Our interest in it just went into overdrive afterwards.  Here it is:

My hubby has been working super hard on this and he did a great job. I can't take any credit. I think my only contribution was telling him what seeds I wanted.  He planted green beans, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, potatoes (in tubs), carrots and spinach.  Our living room doubled as a green house for a while, but that's ok.  Warm weather is here and these little darlings are out in the sunshine! I'm hungry just thinking about it all.

So, that's one of our first steps.  If you have any tips or advice on growing your own organic produce, please share!