Edible Forest

March 15, 2012

(Edible Forest)

This is such an amazing concept it makes me want to weep! I want to see this happen here, there and everywhere! Where do I sign up?!

CSA Blues

February 11, 2012

Did I ever tell you that it kind’ve sucked at first? With my CSA, you have to commit to a minimum of three months when you join up. That’s probably a good thing, since I had very high expectations and that first bag fell short.

When I read on my farm’s website that a share included 20lbs of chicken, beef and pork per month, I sat down and wrote up a menu. We average 1lb of meat per day for our family of 5. So I figured the meat would last 20 days. Add in take-out once a week, a stew or two made from leftovers, and an occasional fish meal from the supermarket and we were set for the month!

WRONG! Each share does indeed weigh 20lbs. But there is a big difference between the number of portions in a pound of ground beef, and a pound of country style ribs!

So, I called back and added an extra share for next time. I won’t lie… it hurt. I thought for sure I would be cancelling at the end of our three months. But instead it was the turning point. The start of it all. Check my previous post, and you’ll see that even the budget worked out in the end.

CSA Today

February 11, 2012

(source)

Today was our monthly CSA pick-up. Here’s what we got in each bag:

  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 2 chickens (1 whole, 1 cut up into parts)
  • 1 package ground beef patties (x4)
  • 2 sirloin steaks
  • 2 thick bone-in pork chops
  • 1 package stew meat
  • 1 package bacon
  • 2 lbs ground beef

I don’t generally like getting ground beef and beef patties. But whatcha gonna’ do?

Yikes, I just did the math and this much meat makes about 18 dinners in our house. If you subtract a fair price for the bacon and eggs, we are averaging $8 per meal just on meat. That is a bit much considering I used to buy chicken, pork, or ground beef on sale for about $2/lb and splurged on more expensive cuts of beef only once a month or so.

Nevertheless I am not going back. I just know this is worth it. Not to mention the only way to get prices down is to increase availability, which requires demand. Plus we are saving money in other areas (buying less pop, seasoning mixes, and boxed foods) so our actual grocery spending probably hasn’t changed much from last year. But just for fun, let’s check and be sure….

Okay, I pulled up Quicken and ran a couple reports. The year before we joined the CSA, we averaged $831/mos on groceries. In the ten months since we joined the CSA, we averaged $834 on groceries. Weird. So I guess this adventure isn’t hurting our bottom line so much after all. I think it’s because the CSA created a snowball effect. If you are going to go through the effort of brining and roasting a whole chicken, it doesn’t feel quite right to cook up a box of Betty Crocker Au Gratin potatoes to go with it. Or is that just me?

Last week I saw a pack of bone-in chicken breasts on sale at Meijer. We didn’t get that many chickens in our CSA share this month, so I caved and bought them. Although I felt a little guilty, I was looking forward to having enough white meat for 3-4 meals.

Whilst I don’t believe our only option is to go vegan,
this blog does encourage me to choose chickens from sustainable, humane farms.

When I stopped buying store bought meat and switched to my CSA, I didn’t notice a huge change in quality. I didn’t cook it up that first night and think, “Whoa! Have we been missing out!”

I was really thinking, “I can’t believe I have to cook a whole chicken every time I want some diced meat in a casserole.”

Don’t get me wrong; I always felt good about my choice to switch and I have never regretted it. But I was expecting to have my world rocked… and… well, that never happened. 

But last night, my world twitched to say the least. The difference in switching back is rather striking. For one… I forgot how ginormous these breasts can be.  These are like the Pamela Anderson of chickens.

(If a clip from The Onion can triple my hit count, let’s see what this picture does)

Check out this blog for more information on the Cornish X chickens that give us these plump, delicious, unnatural breasts. (No, I am not being sarcastic…. Franken-chickens really have that scary name).

I don’t think we will be getting those big breasts from the grocery store again anytime soon.