My Green City Life


Green vs. frugal
May 31, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: on the town, your green lifestyle

Much of the time, living environmentally friendly and living frugal go hand in hand. One of the reasons to go green that those easy-to-swallow articles and top ten lists often reference is the money you save when you switch to CFLs or take public transportation or whatever. But sometimes being green and being frugal go head to head. One of the obvious times when this happens is at the grocery store, and you are deciding being conventionally grown food and local/organic/sustainable food. If being environmentally friendly is your top goal, you’ll choose the latter; if being frugal is your top goal, you’ll choose the former.

A few months ago, we got a chest freezer. The reason for its purchase was to store veggies purchased at the market at the height of the season. I completely filled our normal freezer last year and didn’t feel as though I had done enough. (I must admit there is still a bit of eggplant and cauliflower in there.) I realized recently that I could finally start doing that frugal thing where you more than you need of stuff when it’s on sale and then stash it in your freezer. It all seems rather suburban mom to me if taken to a certain extreme, but if you do it wisely, it’s a smart move, I think.

Anyway, in a google search to find out if you can freeze milk (you can) I stumbled across The Grocery Game which is a site for those ultra-frugal, coupon-crazy suburban moms (or, to be fair, non-suburban non-moms) who know and utilize every trick in the frugal grocery book. On the site, there is a link to a morning show interview the Grocery Game founder did, and in the video, one of the things she mentions is that sometimes with sales or coupons or whatever, buying two small packages is a better deal than buying a big package when you get down to the ounce-to-ounce value.

This is the part that got me. I am definitely a shopper with an eye for the per-ounce (well, per 100 grams around these parts) price on the price tags at the store. But this can’t always be the only determining factor! Sure, you may save twenty cents by buying two small boxes of Cheerios instead of one big one, but you end up with more packaging being thrown away or recycled. It took more resources to make those two little boxes, and they probably took up more space on a truck being shipped across the country than that one big box.

It’s a delicate balance, and it makes me a little sad. For a lot of people, that twenty cents is an important twenty cents and not something that can be wasted, not even in the name of less packaging. I wish that being green and being frugal went together all the time.



To CSA or not to CSA
May 26, 2008, 12:33 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen | Tags:

It’s a debate I’ve been having with myself for a couple of weeks now. Last year I participated in a CSA through the co-op at Matt’s school. I was unhappy with it for reasons including poor management (not sure if that was more the fault of the co-op or the farmer), little variety in crops (way too many cucumbers and greens!), and an inability to the communicate with the farmer who is Francophone. I decided not to participate in a CSA this year but just go to the market each week instead.

Then I saw the flyers for the CSA at the co-op this year. They are working with a new farmer this year. Actually, it’s a farming collective called Jardins de la Resistance, which is enough to get ya interested right there. I got the English version of the the flyer, and it was obviously written by someone who is fluent in English, which is always a plus for me. The flyer also mentioned that they’ll be having work weekends at the farm once a month during the summer — something that wasn’t offered last year.

So now I have to decide. Do I let myself be lured into the promise of an improved CSA? Or do I stick to my guns and play the market instead, so to speak? I think this calls for a list!

CSA
Pros:

  • Organically grown (though not certified) and local guaranteed
  • More conveniently located
  • Possible cost savings
  • A chance to go to the farm and dig in the dirt
  • A good way to try veggies I wouldn’t normally buy
  • I like supporting CSAs

Cons:

  • No guarantee of quality, quantity, or variety of produce
  • Not sure I’ll be up to dealing with a CSA basket in Sept/Oct

Farmers Market
Pros:

  • Fun market atmosphere
  • Already have a “pact” with a market-going buddy
  • Allows me to get exactly what I want
  • Possibly a wider variety of produce available
  • Other food available (milk, eggs, etc)
  • Allows for better menu planning
  • More flexible

Cons:

  • More difficult to find organic/local produce
  • Takes more time


Market Report: 20 May 2008
May 21, 2008, 8:54 am
Filed under: market report | Tags:

After a few weeks’ hiatus, Mary and I resumed our weekly trip to the Jean Talon market yesterday. It was chilly but not as chilly as a few weeks ago. And there were stalls open! Oh yes, not just the indoor portion! I was dismayed to see SO many stalls selling what was obviously non-local produce. Most of them had their produce marked with its origin so that you could see that the peaches were from the US and the avocados were from Mexico, but the part that made me extra sad was that many of them had signs above their stalls with the name of their “farm” and the little countryside Quebec town where it’s located. This would be manageable if there were only a few of these vendors, but the market is so big that it’s hard to keep it all straight. Hell, I get turned around wandering down the aisles every time! I’m going to give these vendors the benefit of the doubt: perhaps some of them really are farmers but they don’t have any crops to vend yet so they rely on imports. Perhaps.

Another disappointment was that the egg man was there, but he didn’t have any organic eggs. I wonder if that is a temporary thing or not. The milk/dairy stall was closed too.

So what local goods were there? Quebec asparagus seemed to be the only local spring crop available. I paid way too much for a bunch from Birri, who also had some small greens and herbs. It made for a tasty dinner. There was one guy from whom we bought apples (local? hopefully. leftovers from last year? probably.) who had some rhubarb. I think next week I will definitely snag some rhubarb for muffins or coffee cake or something else equally delicious.

Soupnancy, whom I’ve just discovered, says that fiddlehead season is now at a peak, but I didn’t see any at the market. And I was looking. She also says that Francois de bois, a local forager, will have a booth at the market this year, but he’s only there Thursday to Sunday, so I didn’t see him either. I might have to make a special trip to buy some mushrooms for a special dinner!