Saturday, January 13, 2007

Where are all the Farms?

As I've mentioned before, I'm plowing my way through The Omnivore's Dilemma. Love it and hate it. I woke up this morning with a nightmare of a pig chewing Ariana's ears off. Horrible.

I'm currently fascinated with the idea of taking a set-in-stone grocery budget and at least running some calculations on how much (as in, what percentage) sustainability can be purchased by making some alternate cooking choices. Now, mind you, my cooking already has some severe limitations, and already does NOT contain any prepackaged meals, the big exception being mac-n-cheese boxes and ramen noodles which make up at least some of the kid's lunches. (They prefer it when I make the mac from scratch. Maybe I should take a hint and get hard core about that one more thing.)

So I'm knocking about on the internet, seeking to find some local sources of decent meat and eggs and the farms are all a hundred miles away. Are there any local sources of meat and eggs? If so, WHY don't they have web pages? (Sheldahl Consulting would be happy to design a few).

Pathetic, I know, but I was wanting to run some numbers and think about it a little. From where I'm sitting, I feel proud of myself when I shop Kroger instead of Walmart. Only two items were unavailable at Kroger that I normally buy: Sugar free Ketchup and Sugar Free bread. Both of which I COULD make from scratch if I decided to put time and effort into it. Time I have, energy not as reliable. But it's worth thinking about.

The other question knocking around in my oversized head is this: I know Laura's Lean beef is grass fed, etc. and that is how the leanness is achieved. How, then, is the leanness achieved in Kroger brand extra lean beef (93/7) if feedlots and grains fatten beef more than this? I don't even know where to begin to go to answer this question.

It's all so interesting, forgive my rambles. I find this is always, like I alluded to above, about one more thing: The whole wheat pastry flour replacing the white flour. The local Mennonite-made all-fruit sugar free jellies that my whole family loves replacing the two jars: jar of generic strawberry and the jar of generic sugar free nasty chemical strawberry for me. It's about making a smaller, leaner meatloaf and cooking an extra serving of vegetable to round out the meal. It's about picking up Laura's Lean Beef when it's on sale. It's about choosing stevia more often than splenda. It's about smaller portions. It's about at least getting the eggs that don't have meatpacking castoffs in their feed. Always compromises, though. But which ones? That is the operative question. I could go on and no. No, wait. I DO go on and on.

I find, despite all my rantings and ramblings, that I'm very very willing to spend twenty cents more for Earthbound Farms organic lettuce than I am for the Dole. Ok, so even that choice is not as "pristine" as a nice basket of CSA veggies or even better, something I grow in my own back yard. A twenty cent difference I can deal with. A three or four dollar difference I can't.

So, where are all the farms? Are there any farms? Surely there are? Where do Farmer's Market die-hards buy their eggs in the winter time?


Paige said...

Weird. Robert and I also had a "Laura's vs. Kroger 93/7" discussion today. But ours centered around my wondering why the Kroger beef doesn't "clump" (Is that the right word?) nearly as much when you fry it up, making it a better choice for spaghetti, quesadillas, and all other cooking in which clumps are undesirable. Have you noticed that? It can't be the 1% fat difference.

Regarding the food budget issue, I think your situation is a lot more typical than the 10% figure you read could possibly be. When I started NutriSystem I had several friends comment that it was three, four, or five times as expensive as their monthly food bill. Having always payed attention to our monthly food bills, and knowing that we eat MUCH cheaper than is normal for our peer group (we get made fun of for our use of generic everything), I have called BS on them and decided that most people I know grossly underestimate how much they spend on food. Maybe the author and his friends do the same.

Mimi said...

We do a CSA, and I love it.

macrina younger said...

Remember to factor in your time as a cost! Even if you don't work outside the home, you have to balance what needs to be done against the finances, and your health, and that includes downtime and re-creation time for you, as well as spending time enjoying the company of your family - as well as the physical problems your health brings with it.
It's not easy trying to do the right thing, that's for sure, and do it in an affordable way. Major kudos for the amount you've done!

alana said...

Dh and I want to do a wee tiny bit of container gardening this summer. A wee tiny bit sound do-able. How much lettuce to plant in order to get enough for a "meal salad" and a side salad at dinner per day?

Anonymous said...
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lisa said...

How much lettuce? A lot. One head will do what you're asking. We thought we were planting a lot last summer, (two rows) but we went right through it.

Good Foods has local eggs all year round!