There's a very interesting book I'm supposed to read called "The Omnivore's Dilemma". Apparently the author attempts to trace all the ingredients of 4 meals to their original sources. I won't spoil it for you, well, because I can't, having not read it myself, but I imagine it's quite surprising how far some of our food travels before it comes to our homes, and how often corn in some form or another appears in our food.
Song of the Day:
I bring this up because today is Thursday, which is the day we go pick up our Grant Family Farms CSA farm share. What is a "farm share" you ask? Or a "CSA"? Or a "farm"? Good questions, all. CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture". It is a farm at which people purchase food shares for the entire growing year. Whatever the farm produces, that's what you get. And what do you get exactly? Lots of kale, I can tell you that much. So much kale... What can one man do when faced with such pure vegetables... I digress. I don't know how all the CSAs operate out there, but I can tell you a little about Grant Family Farms, since we have a farm share with them.
We pay up front early in the year for an entire year's worth of produce from Grant. Grant needs the money ahead of time to help pay for seeds and the like. In return, during the growing season, every week we receive a box of farm-fresh produce. Probably picked that day from the farm. Grant Farms is an organic farm. In fact they say that they are the first certified organic farm in Colorado. The produce production season at Grant Farms lasts from June through November I think, so every week during that time we receive a box full of whatever they harvested that week.
Now when I say "receive", we actually have to go to a pick up location to get our weekly produce. Our pick up location is the Fort Collins Brewery, aka the "little" brewery in town (new Belgium and Odell being the big boys of course). Grant delivers the produce to the brewery every Thursday and we, along with several dozen other customers, go pick up a box and take it home.
Now Grant Farms has about 100 locations in Colorado (and 2 in Wyoming) to which they deliver produce. Even up in Steamboat Springs and Vail can one take part in this venture! The days of the week differ but the routine is the same. Every week, go to your pick up spot and get your veggies. This works out great for us because we don't have the time, inclination, or skill to garden ourselves, and we never buy vegetables at the store, so this way we are forced to eat things like kale and squash that are actually good for our health.
So to the question, "Where'd ya get that?", at least with our produce I can answer the question with "the brewery!" Or also, "14 miles north of here." We started the CSA last year after reading about it in a local newspaper. I thought it was pretty cool to support local agriculture, and I've always been a little paranoid about buying vegetables from far-flung locations like Chile. Nothing against Chile, but what happens if gas/oil prices were to skyrocket? More specifically, what happens to the price of my Chilean green beans, as opposed to the price of my Grant Family Farms green beans? I mean, heck, I could ride my bike to Grant farms and pick up my green beans myself, and then, minus the cost in oil and gas to harvest said beans, I don't really care what the price of oil is. And I know that the majority of my money is staying in the area, which can't be a bad thing. It's the same personality trait that drives me to look for a bicycle that is built in the USA, instead of the ROC. I don't know if this trait makes me conservative or liberal, probably a fiscal conservative (keep the money right here) and a social liberal (support organic farming!), but that's the way it is.
Which brings me to the point of this ramble, which is that since this is Motor Free Month, we needed to go get our weekly CSA produce from the brewery using our bikes! Normally I wouldn't think twice about jumping into a car to get this stuff. I mean, we get a lot of food, and it can get heavy, and bulky, and also some of the vegetables are fragile and do not tolerate getting jammed into a backpack very well. And I like to get a gallon of beer from the brewery while I'm there and those growlers are not light. So I could have asked C_ to go pick the produce up in the car (as she's not completely motor free. not yet.), but as that seemed very far from the spirit of this adventure, we decided to go together on our bikes to the brewery to get our produce. And just because I want to make things as difficult as possible, we took the beer growler for a gallon refill of delicious golden ale! This obviously added to the weight and took away from the available packing space, but it's worth the inconvenience.
Backpacks on, we headed down for the 1.5 mile trip to the brewery. It didn't take long at all, but it was mostly downhill too. Halfway there I realized that I'd left my wallet at home. The produce doesn't cost anything (we pre-paid at the beginning of the year) but the beer is not free. So I'm now lugging around a big glass gallon jug for no good reason. Except maybe I could start a jug band at the brewery or something. Oh well!
We arrive at the brewery and get our box of vegetables. A fantastic haul this week! lettuce, broccoli, onions, potatoes, corn, parsley, eggplant, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers. All farm fresh, all organic, all delicious. Note also the relative lack of packaging, very eco-challenge. Oh yes, this reminds me; you don't know exactly what you're going to get from week to week. It depends on what's in season! This, apparently, is how everyone used to eat. Eat the fresh stuff in season, and can the rest of it for off-season eating. No fresh tomatoes in January. No pumpkins in July, for that matter.
But how to get it home? That's what the backpacks are for. We begin to stuff all the produce into our packs. Heavy, tougher things first; corn, potatoes, squash, onions. Then the fragile things; eggplant, tomatoes, broccoli. Finally the leafy items; lettuce, parsley(, sage, rosemary and thyme). Hey it all fit! Sadly we are bereft of funds, so the beer growler remains empty and forlorn in the bottom of my pack as we get back on or bikes and head back home.
Now what to do with this bounty of the field? Pizza tonight, baby!
Earlier I purchased pizza dough, cheese, and pasta sauce at the store. We decided to make "eggplant parm pizza." C_ sliced and fried up slices of eggplant, and I chopped up and sauteed broccoli, onion, and tomato. I think normally one uses a thicker tomato paste for the sauce but I just used tomato sauce (barilla organic) and mixed the sauce with the toppings like a primavera.
In fact we could have easily made eggplant parm at this point but we already had the dough out so pizza it was. Sauce on, eggplant on, cheese on, in the oven, and viola, yummy pizza at the ready.
So I don't know where the pasta sauce came from, nor the dough or the cheese, but we're getting closer. And I can say that there was no corn product of any sort in our dinner. I know that sounds like a strange statement to have to make, but again, you'd be surprised at how frequently that vegetable shows up on your table.
Until tomorrow, happy eating, and support your local farmer!