Sunday, June 1, 2008
I've recently been very interested in FoodWishes video recipes blog. The blog owner Chef John has posted some interesting "weekend filler" as he calls it, about food issues we are having in the U.S. right now. It is here that I had my almost-epiphany. I say almost because I have been on the "green-eating" track for a while, I just wasn't sure where to go with it. The videos featuring Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan spurred me to get active. Green eating and staying away from artificial (yet-edible) foods has been an issue with me for a while. I know they are bad. I know that fresh, pesticide-free food is better for us. When Daniel and I got married, we began shopping at Sprouts Farmers' Market (a chain store) in order to eat healthier, fresher food, and in the process, we discovered it was actually cheaper than the produce from most grocery stores. Now, it is not a real 'farmers market' per say, most of the produce comes from Mexico, but that is closer than oh, S. America or Australia.
Despite our neighboring status to California ("The Land of Wine and Food" blah blah blah), Arizona doesn't have nearly as much to offer in the way of agriculture and food. But did you know we have farms just outside of Phoenix? We actually have farms that grow food. Vegetables, and fruits and melons, and grains... The farmers' markets haven't caught on quite like they have in California, but they are growing. More people are becoming aware and more markets are popping up in plazas and parking lots on the weekends.
Unfortunately there are a lot of issues with farming and ranching in Arizona. For one thing, irrigation is expensive. Damming of rivers, slow yearly-draining and non-replenishing of lakes/reservoirs, and the creation of huge systems for irrigation all have their issues that I won't get into. I feel that I just can't in order to stay sane. It is a paradox that I can't fix. In order to be green - eat locally-grown food. In order to save/conserve water - eat food that grows more naturally/cheaper/easily somewhere else... What to do?
I've decided that since they are there, I will keep utilizing the farmers markets we have, in order to eat fresh food that doesn't use gallons and gallons of gasoline to get here. Now, if you are familiar with Daniel and me, you know we are on a newlywed, student budget. Eating healthy yet cheap is our thing. Farmer's markets are not exactly cheap. but they are fresh... Oh, to see the food displayed right out of the back of their pickups and smell the sweet melons laid out on blankets in the sun, its a wonderful thing. Something that induces a "who cares how much it is I need it" attitude in me. Consequently, Daniel will never let me go by myself again. But you have to think about it. A splurge say twice a month on the freshest fruit and vegetables $20 can buy you and eating fresh produce from the "semi-green" Sprouts the rest of the time. The money is worth your health, and the environments'. It is worth supporting the farmers who are trying so hard to make a living in Arizona with so little. It's worth contributing the demand to the market so that maybe more people will be interested and maybe the farmers will be able to drop their prices.
I'm so excited about this idea that I've even looked into a CSA, or basically, your very own personal farmers market. See, you pay a set amount at the beginning of the season to the farmer. He in turn brings you whatever he has harvested that week for 10-12 weeks(all season long) and you get the freshest veggies and fruit the farmer has to offer. You get normal things like potatoes, various fruits, squash, etc., but you also get to try new things, whatever the harvest brings in.
It is quite a hefty price since you pay all at once, and I've asked Daniel to give it to me as a birthday present. Summer isn't the season for this sort of thing anyways, the best harvests are in Fall and Spring. Oh I can't wait to do it.
If you live in Phoenix and want fresh produce and can afford it, you must try it. More and more farmers' markets are popping up in Phoenix. Unfortunately they are switching to summer hours, but many are still running. The one I just went to had a simple sign out the day before and had we not driven by it we never would have known it was there.
Look for more posts on what I did with all those delicious finds!