Let's talk about the availability of Organic, Sustainable and Free Range food.
So I Insist that Sustainable food is the way to go.
But can you get it?
So, Organic vegetables are now available all of the year. In the winter lettuces come from Southern California, Arizona and now Mexico. Root vegetables and some stalk vegetables are also in the market year round. However, committing to sustainable produce also means committing to common sense. We have caused the corporate agri-culture to produce less than desirable food due to our unreasonable expectation of finding everything under the sun all year round, especially organic. As I said before, businesses will do what they can to respond to our demands. If we want red tomatoes in February, someone will figure out a way to make them happen, even if it means genetically engineering them to grow in ice cubes! Or in the case of organic, flying in foods from New Zealand, Israel and Chile in the winter to feed our appetite for the ingredients we "need".
What do we really need? Does it all have to be perfect? Remember that food is alive and responsive to its environment. Anyone who has ever had a vegetable garden knows that real produce has variations in size and color. When all of the tomatoes on a shelf look exactly the same, don't you get a little suspicious? Are these the Stepford tomatoes?--and is that what you really want rushing through your bloodstream en route to your heart and brain?
To help keep our produce marketplace clean and sane, try to think seasonally when buying stuff. Baby greens, root vegetables, apples, allium and cabbages all are reasonable products that either grow quickly or cellar well. Insisting on white asparagus, yellow tomatoes or fresh peas in winter will just bring us more of the same chemically assisted suicide we have commissioned all along. Shop for produce in your local co-op or health food store. And don't be afraid of canned stuff. Real nice canned tomatoes are full of nutrients and that is the way that most peasants get their tomatoes in the off season.
Good canned tomatoes are excellent!
Did you know this...Frozen greens are often more nutritious than the fresh ones that you may find in the supermarket! Most frozen spinach and kale is picked, blanched and frozen within 24-48 hours of harvest. This locks in many of the water-soluble vitamins. If you don’t live close to the farms, most greens are up to 10 days old by the time you buy them. The nutrients are pretty much shot by then. Surprise!!!!
What about the price of organics?
Organic produce is more expensive than commercial produce. In most cases it is about double the price. But does that mean that it is expensive? I suppose that it is a relative question. We do have the cheapest food in the world. That is one of the great yet strange American truths. Our insistence on cheap food has created this monster of genetically engineered, chemically fed foodstuff. Let's try doing some math. A regular head of romaine is .89 in Walmart, an organic head is $1.59 in the health food store and a MacDonalds hamburger is .89 .Two people can have a beautiful organic romaine salad for the same price as they can each have a Macdonald's hamburger.
Notice the value? These absurd comparisons are fun. Is an organic loaf of bread half the price of a pack of cigarettes? Is an organic apple cheaper than Blue Gatorade? Are you having fun yet? I have costed out dinner for four made with an organic roast chicken, organic brown rice, organic carrots and an organic salad to be about $4.75 per person. That is the same as a Banquet frozen turkey dinner. Duh! The price of organic food is really a matter of perspective. If you are cooking at home with fresh stuff for your family, using organics is about the same as buying frozen prepared dinners or eating out in a chemical rich "Budget" restaurant.
Be wise, be your grandparents! Use the stuff that is on hand and don't encourage the chemical farmers!
Marry the Ketchups!
Ric the chef