December 13, 2008

Food Costs

If I had anything resembling free-time in my life, this blog would have regular, daily posts. I think about food A LOT, and I have a lot to say about it, probably more than anyone wants to hear. But I have small children, a small business, a busy life, and I cook three meals a day. The time-cost for putting real food on the table isn't small, and there have been moments in the past months where I've wondered if the pop tarts would really kill us. (Not that I could swallow a piece of chemical-flavored cardboard...)

But this prompted me to post:

It's a young couple, who lived on a $1 a day for food for one month. They went as healthy as they could, oatmeal, peanut butter, beans, rice... but they couldn't afford produce more than a couple times during the experiment. They drank Tang for the vitamin C.

This makes me think a million things, about the people who really do it, about the cheap calories that are available in junk food, about how the looming health care crisis, obesity epidemic, and countless medical conditions could be wiped out with decent nutrition.

Then I wondered what our produce costs us each day. A $27 weekly box of produce feeds a family of four for $0.96 a day per person. I supplement fruit and kid-friendly vegetables (they just won't eat collards and mustard greens 7 days a week, darnit!) to get a greater variety and quantity, from a small local grocery that sources organic and pesticide-free produce from California farms. A typical week means another $25 in produce from this store, which would bring our total to just under $2 a day per person.

It doesn't sound outrageous, and it's certainly cheaper than the produce we ate a few years ago before starting the CSA box. Those days when I bought over-priced, warehouse-aged, hot-ticket items like fresh berries year-round. Now I haven't seen a berry in months (well, I did, encased in Jell-O, somewhere in the American middle-west but that's another story...), and won't until late Spring. Instead we're eating apples, oranges, persimmons and pomegranates. It is in all ways cheaper, healthier and better to eat seasonal produce; we know that. But what is to be done when the cheapest is too expensive?

There are stunning grassroots answers to this question in community gardens, backyards and rooftops,

December 8, 2008

she has never steered me wrong

I am not a turnip fan. My first winter with Eatwell, I dutifully gave them a shot by roasting them in the oven...but I just couldn't get past the funky, turnipy smell.

All winter long, I gave them away to the French babysitter, who couldn't understand what I didn't like about them, but gladly took them and fed them to my daughter and the other kids.

Last week, Ruth sent me an email about making a soup out of the turnips. Even though she said they were 'out of this world', I was still dubious. However, I had to try it because A/ it was an Alice recipe and B/ the turnips don't have a second home as I no longer use the babysitter on a regular basis and C/ Ruth has NEVER been wrong about food. EVER.

I made the soup last night and had two bowls. And the kids ate it. And I brought it for lunch today. I think one could say that I have been converted!

2 lbs of small, fresh turnips with leaves
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp of fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf (I had a fresh one from the farm! woohoo!)
1 piece of prosciutto or smoked bacon (I used pancetta)
8 cups stock...chicken, vegetable or even water (I used leftover turkey stock)

Thinly slice the onion and garlic and saute in a large, non-reactive pot with the oil and butter and a tablespoon of water. Cover and gently cook until the onions are transparent.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the turnips. Reserve the greens.

Add the turnips, cover and stew a little bit.
Add the herbs, pork product ;) and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook low for 1/2 hour.

Towards the end, add the reserved greens, that have been washed and cut into 1/2 slices. Cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add a few slices of shaved parmesan. The end ;)