Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Give Peas a Chance

One of the perks of city living I was most excited for when we moved to Ottawa was the availability of fresh, local food. This has become the way we shop for food. When I make our grocery list these days, I go over what we can get at the farm stand down the street, what we can harvest from the garden out back, and what we can take from our freezer supply of free range and hormone-free meat. The rest comes from the independent grocery store around the block (or, once a month now, Costco). 

I don't say this to brag or flaunt. Buying our groceries this way (or any way!) is a big cost, one we manage and balance. All told, our garden costs are cheaper each year after the initial costs for materials. Buying local produce from the farm stand is definitely cheaper and more nutritious than the grocery store, so that's a no-brainer for me. (It's open every day during business hours, so I don't have to remember which day is farmer's market day! Score!). And our ethical meat costs a lot upfront (we pay for a year's supply each fall), but after looking at our spending, we spend the same amount monthly that we were at the grocery store on meat, so it evens out.

Farmer's stand carrots
So, what's the payout? Taste is always better when the food is local or home-grown. There is nothing as indulgent as eating a juicy, ripe tomato I have grown from seed. Our meat is frozen for us right after slaughter, and is raised humanely, so though the taste difference is subtle, I rest easy knowing I am raising my girls on meat that is wholesome and healthy. Plus, they have a lot of questions now about from where their food has come, and I can confidently respond that the pig whose ribs we're eating lived a happy life. If only my vegetable garden meant the girls were more inclined to eat their broccoli. Sadly, it is not.

Our first ever homegrown potatoes!
There are weeks where we have a finite grocery budget left, and in order to make it last until the next payday, I have to buy food that is maximally nutritious and filling. The answer to this, in most cases, is to buy local, nutrient-rich food and make meals with the dregs of my pantry. I am not a nutritionist, I have no professional accreditation to support anything I'm doing as our family's head chef and CFO, but the proof is in the (locally-sourced, homemade) pudding: our bodies are healthy and strong, and when they are not, we do as Hippocrates said and let food be our medicine.

Butternut squash soup all made from local ingredients, pre-puree stage.

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