The Plan

This blog has been a long time in the making.

I began reading blogs a couple of years ago, when my friend Geoff kept his Pacific NW friends updated with posts from his several-month stay in China. I would check his blog every few days to see what was up with him, and I liked the peek into someone else’s life. I found David Byrne’s blog almost by accident, and fell in love with his writing (as I’d previously done with his solo music). Over the course of a few years, I found my friend Casey’s blog as well as several personal finance blogs, blogs about happiness and parenting and fashion, many of which I read daily. At one point, I found a short-term blog project that chronicled the challenges of eating a locavore diet for a month, staying within the food stamp budget for their area. This blogger was attempting to answer the question of whether it’s possible to eat fresh, organic, local food without being fabulously wealthy (or at least well-off). I was intrigued. I found a few other locavore blogs, but not quite what I had in mind. My husband and I briefly maintained a blog during our honeymoon in New Zealand, to keep folks back home posted about our fun times jumping into canyons, snowboarding, and exploring a completely different hemisphere (at least one small part of it). Once we got home, we let the blog lapse, since daily life seemed so much tamer than our adventures in NZ.

Now, I once again feel that I have something worthwhile to share with a greater audience. We have committed to preparing more meals at home, as well as to consuming local organic produce. These are goals that will serve most people well in some way (better heath, better finances, it’s good for the environment). With the growing season in the Pacific Northwest being more limited than say, southern California, and since many of the plants that do well here can be grown virtually anywhere in the world (given enough water), I feel that our experiences along this journey are readily applicable to a broad spectrum of people. I hope you gain something useful from it and I welcome comments and suggestions from you all!

We’ve been participating in our local CSA (Zestful Gardens) for 3 years now, and only this year have I finally gotten the handle on how to use the food in a sensible manner, and how to manage to consume or store (almost) all of our share for the week. We re-subscribed after the first year because although we hadn’t managed to eat even the majority of our share each week (sorry, Holly & Valerie – I never wanted to tell you how much of your work we wasted!), we were exposed to new foods and even the attempt to eat from our share encouraged us to include more vegetables in what was at the time a highly carnivorous diet. The second year, we did better but we still weren’t sure it made economic sense for us (considering the amount of waste we ended up with). We agreed to try one more year, and the combination of a renewed commitment, overextending ourselves financially to fund our honeymoon last year, and reduced hours at work for both of us (thank you, recession), finally kicked us into gear. We managed this year to eat or preserve almost everything in each share, each week.

We are today (Sunday) nearing our midway point between the end of summer share and the beginning of autumn share. We picked up our final share of the summer on Tuesday and autumn share does not begin until next Saturday. This gives me a bit of breathing room to try to get a jump-start on this undertaking – please check back to keep me to my intended plan!

One more item on the agenda: Here are my actual stated goals as I plan my menu (in order of importance):

  1. Utilize everything from our CSA share for the week (either immediately as an ingredient or prepped and stored for future use).
  2. Fit the weekly menu to our (sometimes crowded) schedules.
  3. Eat food rather than chemicals. Although I would ideally only bring whole foods into my home, and make them into whatever I need, I’m not quite at that point yet. My next-best thing is to read ingredient lists on all prepared foods (and I’m including bread and cheese here) to be sure that the ingredients are at least things I consider food.
  4. Keep our food budget as low as we can – we’re currently allowing ourselves $140 a week that must stretch to cover gasoline, regular auto maintenance (oil changes and the like, but not tires or repairs), entertainment, food/beer/wine, household supplies, personal hygiene products, incidentals (baby shower gifts, nylons, etc.)
  5. Include enough meat each week to keep my previously carnivorous husband from gnawing his own arm off. Although I do not have any aspirations to return to a vegetarian lifestyle (eleven years were enough for me), the byproduct of trying to consume all the veggies we get each week is generally that we don’t have room in our menu for heavily meat-centered meals during the growing season.
  6. Keep as much as we can of our non-CSA grocery shopping local and organic.*

So that’s the plan! This blog is intended to share our journey with our CSA as we consume our entire share over the course of a year. We pick up our share Tuesday afternoons during the summer and early autumn, and Saturday mornings during the late autumn. Each week, I will post the share (with photos when I remember) on pick-up day. By the following day, I should have a menu for the week as well as a shopping list. I’ll then be updating each day with recipes, photos, reviews, etc. There, I’ve written it – this is my intention. I am now accountable to you, the reader. In all honesty, I do not know how large an audience this blog will have. I will be letting the other members of my CSA know about it so they can reap the benefit of a menu completely planned around our shares, and there may be others like me out there, that enjoy learning about the life of a stranger that has similar interests and goals… time will tell!

*Please refrain from commenting on the low placement of this goal. I know that there are tons of arguments that can be made about how this should be goal # 1 or possibly #2, since the CSA is automatically local and organic. I know, really, I know. But I also firmly believe that life requires balance. Since our budget is currently so tight, I can’t always justify spending $4 on 8 ounces of locally produced feta cheese when the Costco has feta with all-natural ingredients (all of which I can identify as foods) for $3 per pound. It travelled 3,000 miles to get to me, and I would love it if that weren’t the case. But as long as Travis can eat 8 ounces of feta in a single snack, and as long as we’re working on our other goals (get out of debt, purchase a company this year), these are the priorities we’ve set.

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