Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our CSA-amazing investment

I try to tell everyone I meet about our Community Shared Agriculture basket, or CSA. A local organic farm sells "shares" in the early season, when operating costs are the highest. Once the harvest begins, members then receive a weekly or bi-weekly basket of fresh, organic, locally grown produce.
Our family split a double share with a friend, for $525 each. The baskets run 16 weeks from late June to late October.

For us to go this route, was not cheaper than if I shopped sales at the grocery store. At all. But what we were paying for ended up being a lot more than just food.

Firstly, it built up a certain amount of anticipation, looking forward to when the snow would melt, and the green would start to appear.

I guess so far the biggest payout that I feel is the interest, and engagement to what it is I am eating. Every week there's a sense of anticipation, "What am I going to be getting this week?? How on earth am I going to cook with this? What IS this?!" Sometimes I have to admit, I am a little overwhelmed at that amount of unfamiliar things I am receiving. Some of it wouldn't my first choice to cook with-but all of it builds interest.

Whenever we pick up our basket, or our friends drop them off, I'm on the internet looking up the best way to cook a hakurai turnip, and requesting recipes for kale and swiss chard. My cooking comfort levels are stretched and tested as we try to use up what we've received in the tastiest way possible. The farm we have the basket from, Rainbow Heritage Gardens, is excellent at using "heritage" or "heirloom" varieties. Purple peppers and yellow tomatoes are not something you see all the time at the grocery store, but they grow and flourish in the Ottawa valley.

Another really important factor for us, is having the chance to enjoy all local foods. When we see spinach readily in the grocery store in February, it's easy to forget that it's grown over 1000 miles away, and has to be transported by tractor trailer all that distance to show up on our plates. You have to wonder what that does to the nutrition of our food, not to mention the taste. I wanted to know what local looked like, and of course, tasted like.

For a family of 2 and a toddler, it's a lot of vegetables. I get a thrill of excitement though every time I see my one year old happily bite into farm fresh berries, or bake a sweet cinnamon loaf made moist and delicious with zucchini.

I think it's so easy for people to become disconnected to what we are eating. We forget that there is sweat and work that goes into every spinach leaf and cherry tomato, and that we are so blessed to live in a country with plentiful harvests.
The real payout in investment for me was a reconnected to the food I eat, and the people who grow it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Role Reversal

This last part of summer is an exciting time for our family. We are reunited, and enjoying play together, family and friends coming to stay, some camping, and possibly a trip down to the GTA to see hubby's side of the family.
An interesting dynamic has now emerged though, in which we are experiencing some role reversal for the first time. Hubby is on extended leave as he makes up for so much time away, and I am continuing to work part time. We've never really had the chance to try on "stay at home dad" with a working Mommy, and it's a neat perspective. Rather than shy away from the switch, hubby and I are making things interesting.

For the month of August, while he is off and I am continuing to work, hubby will be embracing the micro aspect of our budget. In the past he's described why I do the groceries and meal planning as "The person with the most patience should do that job" and it's true. It's time consuming to read every flyer, record price matching, clip coupons, and meal plan. Since I usually cook, and I know off the top of my head what goes into what recipes, it just makes sense that I do it.

It's a lot of work.

It also involves creativity as we try to spice up (haha) meal times, and truly bring a sense of enjoyment to our food. It doesn't *just happen* and I think both of us plan on making the most of the other side of the coin.

My challenge will be the beginning of August, in which my work will increase to full time. I'm actually really grateful to get a better appreciation for all my husband puts into housing, feeding, clothing and providing for us. Not every couple gets the chance to get a better view into what the other's practical day-to-day life looks like. While change of pace in itself can bring refreshment, I think it will also bring a renewed joy in the day-to-day job I get to do of raising a toddler, managing a household, and provide the best comfort I can give to out family.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I'm glad that in spite of distance, my hubby and I can negotiate. When I was in high school a teacher of mine talked about negotiation vs compromise. She said that compromise suggested both parties giving something up, while negotiation led to both parties obtaining at least part of what they want. That stuck with me. I think we're both decent negotiators, and we both recognize that we balance each other out when it comes to purchases.

My refurbished Dyson is en-route, with free shipping and a 2 year warranty, and costing just over half of what a new one would. I'm glad that Ted and I found a solution we're both pleased with, and I am SUPER PUMPED to vacuum this place top to bottom when it gets here. Review to come.