Fresh organic food in winter

It’s been about a year now that I’ve belonged to an organic food delivery service. I took a break from it for a few months, and we’re back getting our orders twice monthly (or rather, bi-weekly, which isn’t quite the same thing), and I have to say I’m very glad.

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Although I don’t shop with organics specifically in mind, if there is a small price difference between an organic item vs a ‘traditional’ item, I tend to reach for the organic one. I know, partly from my own research, and partly from educational dialogue with my Naturopath doctor, that not all items we consume must necessarily be organic. For example, squashes don’t need to be certified organic. In the case of squash, I go for local (grown nearby, in my own backyard, or at least in my province) rather than, say, imported from Argentina. (Why do we need to import squash from there? We have plenty of squash in Canada). Same with garlic, although non-pesticide garlic is extremely hard to find in Ontario in winter. Garlic grows like weeds….don’t need spraying, and you can eat the shoots that come up and curl.

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Yet for some reason, the bulk of Ontario garlic is imported from China. Didn’t China recently make the news about their air pollution problem? So why are we eating Chinese garlic? I grow garlic in my backyard and if I don’t keep on top of it, the entire garden would be infested with garlic. That’s how easy garlic can be grown in temperate climates like ours. (freezing cold winters, sizzling hot summers, and everything in between).

There’s another reason why I chose to get a food delivery service: I’m sick and tired of grocery shopping.

There. I said it.

So anyway, I get this box delivered every other Tuesday, and it looks something like this:

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I get the standard, basic box, which means they select what I get. They send a lovely little email, twice before my delivery date, to remind me that I can modify and add items to it (for additional pay). But mostly, for the $37 I spend every other Tuesday, I have been happy with the produce I get. The picture above was a delivery sometime in January I think, but my last two deliveries have had a lot of greens in it (which is what we’re out of constantly), as well as fruit. This is a big fruit eating family, so that’s been helpful. (Organic fruit in February is not cheap so I do tend to purchase my own bulk apples and other fruit that are not organic, and just wash them really well.)

In the past few times, I’ve gotten something interesting that had met thinking of doing my own sprouts. One item was called Organic Live Kale and it was basically kale grown as sprouts.

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You just snip them into your salads, on top of sandwiches, as eatable garnishes….

The live container I got last Tuesday was pea shoots. The idea is ingenious and you can grow them yourself. All you need is a flat container with sides, some sterile earth (or possible even just cotton), seeds, and water.

I really like the box delivery. The service I use is called Front Door Organics, but there are many different ones, and I recommend it for people who love their fresh food. Shopping isn’t eliminated, I still need endless other stuff, constantly, it seems, but it certainly has helped keep us fed well over the dull winter months. And the surprises like the live trays of sprouts has been a great addition to our dinner table.

Tainted food

So mom shows up with delicious food from Wholefoods. Spinach croissant…YUM!

I ate two for lunch and nothing else.

By supper time I had full-fledged food poisoning.

It just makes you think, doesn’t it. You shop in a reputable store, you watch how you prepare food yourself, you do what it takes to keep everything washed and clean and hygienic, and still, there’s food poisoning.

I felt terrible throwing out the other four croissants. My kids love the spinach ones (and luckily didn’t eat them). They must have cost a pretty penny, and they were so fresh and good…I feel sad.

It makes me wonder if it was the spinach, the most likely culprit. Even if it was grown organically, like with all food that gets produced for mass consumption, at one point or another it gets handled. Was it the spinach? Was it due to the growing, the packaging, the handling?

It’s highly unlikely it was not the croissants that caused me this grief. I ate the same thing for breakfast as everyone else in the household, and was the only one who ate the croissants for lunch. I had nothing to snack prior to dinner and no dinner at all since by then I was already feeling nauseous.

It had to be the croissants.

Sigh.

But all is well now. Making a lovely roast for supper in the crock, and I tell you, after two days of eating nothing, I am FAMISHED!

Homecooked vs Take-Out Food

Is there a benefit to eating take-out food over a homecooked meal?

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Most people would say certainly not. My own parents would agree that homecooked is always better, and cheaper, and it is in fact how they raised us. I can count on one hand the times we were invited to eat at a restaurant during my childhood. Usually, it was because someone else invited our family to eat there to celebrate some event. Beyond that…we ate at home. Always.

The word(s) “take-out” often comes with negative implications. To many people, it automatically means fast food. As in chain fast food. You know the culprits: McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Hell Bell, even Swiss Chalet. Sit-down restaurants like Kelsey’s or East Side Mario’s also provide take-out, and there are some who will argue that meals from these places should not be labeled fast food.

I beg to differ. Whether you order from Burger King or Milestones, somewhere deep inside the cavities of their kitchen exists a binder that specifically details the exact composition of each item of food listed on their menu, and how it is to be cooked. Because a Whopper in downtown Toronto will be made exactly the same way, and taste exactly the same, as a Whopper in urban Chicago, in smalltown Prairie province, or in suburbian Alaska.
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source of picture: http://www.takepart.com/blog/2008/07/30/la-bans-new-fast-food-joints-in-south-los-angeles/
The reality however is that people want good food quick. This does not have to mean hamburgers and french fries. Take-out food does not have to come from fast food joints, or chain restaurants. Depending on where you live, there are little mom-and-pop shops all over the neighbourhood that cater to the community’s appetite for nourishment.
Where we live, shops like that exists within walking distance of our little home, and many stay in business because people in the community support them. The little Polish deli just past the library makes great perogies and saussages or grilled chicken, cooked by the little old polish mama in the back of the store. The little Lebanese cafe just up the street serves fantastic lentil soup and falafal at a decent price. A Japanese family opened up a Sushi place just past the intersection, and they have great Teryaki and little tiny vegetarian Bento boxes for kids. Just yesterday, someone mentioned a new eatery that delivers organic wood stove cooked chicken for 10 bucks. You can take it home and eat it with a salad, or order a side like sweet-potato french fries, homemade cut and cooked inside the same wood stove. It was delicious.
Keeping such little places in business doesn’t mean you need to buy dinners every night. We don’t and we don’t want to. We happen to like cooking and we happen to want to know how exactly our meals are composed. I want to be able to control the amount of sugar, salt or fat I put into my meals.
 
But keeping such little places in business by purchasing their meals occasionally, be it for a get-together at your house, a Friday night meal when everyone is too tired to open the fridge, much less plan an entire nutritionally balanced meal, or just a quick lunch on a day of running around like a desperate housewife, will keep your community healthy. Because preventing another box store or chain food restaurant from opening in your neighbourhood not only feeds the trend these days, but keeps us diversified and happily full.
 
I can personally attest to this, and encourage all from trying out the new shop in town.