Friday, December 07, 2007

This really should just be a garden blog...


Not edible, but pretty

...but I seem to have other food-related interests, though, especially during the non-food-growing winter months. Could it be I simply have more time on my hands?

Anyway, I thought I would share some "food activist" things I have been doing.

My daughter goes to a private school. There is no lunch program, so lunches are up to a child's caregivers, but snack (yes, snack) is up to the school. Last year and the year before that, I worked with a friend of mine to do an organic box scheme wherein we got lots of California veggies and fruits and sold them, in boxes, to some interested families in the school two times a month. This was fun, but...let's face it, it wasn't local, so I felt pretty guilty about those boxes. Our reason for doing was twofold: any profit we made went right back into the snack program, AND our buying power enabled us to buy the kids lots of wonderful fresh fruit and veggies for their midmorning snack.

So this year, well, we kind of dropped the ball by dropping the box (scheme). And now? Now the kids get things like knockoff Chex mix for snack. Chex mix, and #10 cans of pears. (Egads, how far we have fallen.)

This made us a little angry. We're now back at it, this time by starting a Slow Food Convivium that is centered in the school itself. It seems there is a convivium already in our area, and that it was actually the first one in the U.S., but their mission (dinners and wine) and ours (child/parent nutritional education) is different. So, starting in January, we'll be doing Slow Snack two days a week.

Another thing I have recently done is start a buyers' club. A local buyers' club! One of the places we get things from is a new co-op in Grand Rapids. It is a virtual farmers' market: there is NO bricks-and-mortar store. Monthly, members simply order their items online and then pick them up about a week later at a warehouse. This co-op is fascinating, as it is ONLY LOCAL ITEMS from local farmers; grass-fed meats, organic veggies and fruits, home products, knitted goods, soaps... And, get this: they thought I lived too far away!!! So I said the magic word ("buyers' club") and bingo, I am now a member. I place orders with 4-5 of my friends.

Other places we're getting our goodies from are an organic farm near Lansing that mills their own grains, grows their own beans, etc. (They have been my primary source for flour for a while now.) We can still use our California organics source for things like kiwi, avocados, and citrus fruits. And we also "know a guy" (always helpful) who roasts coffee as a hobby, and is able to get fair-trade organic coffee at the fairly traded price, thus charging us only $6 a pound.

Again, my point in telling you all this is to give you some ideas. Child nutrition is a no-brainer in my mind. That my child doesn't know what a marshmallow or a hotdog are is something I'm proud of, frankly. And as for the buyers' club, it helps to pool resources, I think, as there's lots more purchasing power in big orders. (By getting flour delivered to my house in hundreds of pounds, for example, I am able to save big bucks than if I only bought 25 pounds of the stuff.) And as you all know, I think food is very, very important: especially good food. So I put my money where my mouth is.

8 comments:

gigi_leonard said...

Your dedication to all things local is truly an inspiration, El. Bravo, and thanks for the post!

Pattie said...

El: Thanks! This was just the inspiration I needed today. And I love the "slow snack" name. I totally agree with you on the Slow Food convivium thing. The one here in Atlanta is very active and apparently quite good, but it wouldn not make my life any "slower." I don't want to drive. I don't want to be out at night. And I don't want to spend a night sitting around in a restaurant, away from my kids.

CommonWeeder said...

Out here in Western Massachusetts we are supporting the Buy Local movement. We are lucky to live in a rural area with a number of farms, including Community Supported Agriculture farms, farmstands, and supermarkets that use local farms as suppliers. And of course, our own gardens.

I do like the idea of slow snacks. Can I count the popcorn I like in the afternoons if I use local popcorn?

Weeping Sore said...

I tried to give my kid healthy snacks and as an adult she's now a vegetarian, so I might have done something right.

I applaud your efforts to teach kids what's good for them can also be good.

El said...

Gigi: Thanks! I tell you, though, living in the boonies tends to motivate a person, especially when you see the crap they sell as "produce" in the local grocery stores.

Pattie: I can't claim Slow Snack as mine, but thank you. I agree: I am inspired to Slow dine and wine, but, well, that's a hedonistic detour for myself, especially when there's bigger work to be done here in the land of Bad Food.

Commonweeder: Yes, we have loads of farmstands and some CSAs here, too, but I am afraid the Eat Local thing is perceived as a rich person's hobby. Our grocery stores highlight Michigan apples and potatoes, but it isn't a year-round endeavor. But popcorn IS a slow snack! Especially if it's one of those wacky colored ones!

WS: (What a moniker, by the way.) I think more people need to get upset by the crap their kids eat (and themselves, too) but it seems convenience trumps good food especially in terms of fixing a child's food. I think it is so strange that parents start out just great when their babies first start eating solids: organic pureed canned stuff is what so many of them get. But once they start chewing things? Bring out the Chicken Tenders and let's buy some fries with that. Like, what are they THINKING?

Hedgewizard said...

Meh. Don't fight blog creep... embrace it!

Bri said...

Your ideas are so inspiring. I see so many kids subsisting on fats and starch and refusing fresh produce, and I just keep thinking that they eat what's in front of them. If you make fruits and veggies tasty and available, kids will eat them. But of course they'll want junk food if that's what they are used to. Your dedication and creativity in getting good food on your table is admirable.

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