The title of my blog is THOUGHTFUL EATING and today I just have some thoughts to share.
First, I have to tell you how excited I am! Our little seeds have become plants! I'm always amazed that these tiny, delicate seedlings turn into hearty, healthy plants that give us pounds of good food! From one little tomato seed we will get many pounds of fruit which will then be used as dried tomatoes, canned whole and as juice, and made into salsas and marinara sauce as well as eaten fresh! It's so much fun to watch the process!!
I recently saw results on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo, set up to find out how prices influence our choices in the supermarket. They recruited a group of moms to shop for groceries in a simulated supermarket, giving each one the same amount of money. The researchers maniuplated the prices in different ways. When they discounted items like fresh fruits and vegetables, they noticed that the moms used the extra money they saved buying these items on junk foods.
There was a lot more to this study than what I mentioned here, and I'm sure you could search the NPR archives and find the entire study if you are interested. Just this weekend, as I did my grocery shopping, I purchased two organic apples, 1 organic eggplant, bananas, fresh mushrooms, cilantro, 2 avocados, organic kale, and 1 red onion. These were ingredients I planned to use in my weekly menu. If I had more in my grocery budget, I would have purchased a few more apples and maybe more greens. None of the items were on sale.
According to this study, if the items HAD been on sale, with the money I had saved I might have used it to purchase junk food. I guess I do not fit into the 'norm' because I not only would not purchase the junk food, I would have purchased MORE of the produce.
This study brings so many thoughts to my mind about food pricing as well as governement subsidies. Even though I am a proponant of buying and eating in season, as you can see from my latest produce purchases, I am buying foods that are not in season or available locally, which drives the cost of our foods up. If we purchased foods that were locally grown or seasonal, the prices would come down and more people would be able to buy them. There is a lot of science behind a fresh apple purchased in March! These apples were cultivated to be handled by machines so they ship well and arrive in good condition, at the expense of flavor and nutrients.
If you have picked an apple straight from a tree and taken a bite, you know that there is really no comparison to the apples I bought a few days ago. This is a topic that requires more space to discuss than this blog has.
I'm mentioning this to stimulate us to think about our purchases. I did want to buy a red pepper for a recipe, but when the little sticker on it said "product of Chile" I put it back. I'm just not willing to pay for it to be shipped that far. I don't think that's responsible. Last fall, after the last of our fresh tomatoes were picked from the garden, I decided that for the first time, I would not purchase a fresh tomato out of season. There is absolutely no comparison in taste. For the most part, out of season tomatoes taste like cardboard. We do eat a lot of salads and normally have tomatoes on them. While our tomatoes were fresh, I sliced them thinly, salt and peppered them, then dried them in the oven. Once dried, I placed them in freezer bags to use through the winter. The wonderful sweetness of a fresh tomato is greatly amplified by drying, and none of that taste is lost by freezing! I almost prefer dried to fresh!
Farmers Markets are on the rise and you can find them in most town and cities. I would encourage you to suppor them and learn to use the vegetables and fruits in new ways. Don't ever think that you don't have a voice. Our dollar bills are our voice and one person's choices do make a difference! In the same way that recycling your bottles, cans, plastic, and paper makes a difference, so do you buying habits and choices!
One of my favorite books of all times is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She writes about her family's experience of eating only seasonal, local food for a year. It's really a great story and has changed how I think about food purchases. But, this is yet another story for another day. You can find the book at your local library.