Day one: some reflections

I also agree that the first day was a success. We didn’t have a plan (surprise surprise), but we managed to collectively and independently (at one point I had no idea where STA was in the store) stay mostly within our parameters. I did “fail” by picking up some Hormel ham. But I also bought some Holy Land hummus and pita–if you look hard enough, Oxendale’s does have some local products that are really good.

One interesting thing that I noticed, or was reminded of, about myself: I don’t like to shop. I tend to get a little overwhelmed and start to panic. Too many, yet not enough, food ideas come to mind and I lose my ability to focus and pick just one thing. That started to happen as I was thinking about what I wanted for lunch, and that’s why I picked up the Hormel Ham instead of thinking it through. While it may seem like I am rambling on (and perhaps revealing too many of my quirks), I think this admission is important for why I am interested in this project. I agree with STA that making smarter choices (ones in which we seriously consider where our food comes from and how it gets to us) is important. But before I even get to that point, I want to change my habits and my approach to shopping altogether. I want to find a way to enjoy it and not make it so stressful. I want to learn how to more readily (and without having to think too much) make choices that are healthy and responsible and that make me feel good. The nerdy ethicist in me really wants to unpack the idea of “good” right now, but I will restrain myself. Instead, let me return to a few more thoughts about the major success (with minor failures) of our trip today.

  • We need a plan. I am sure STA is reading this and grimacing; he hates plans. Even more than plans, he hates when I suggest that we need a plan. Oh well. In this case, I think we need a little bit (just a little bit, mind you) of a plan so that we don’t forget key items, like milk or bread for the kids’ lunches, and then have to take another trip to the store later in the day.
  • We should buy our vegetables at a co-op. STA mentioned this in his post too. One main focus of my mine is to increase my vegetable intake (it’s hard to believe that I used to eat mostly fruits and vegetables). I strongly prefer that those vegetables are local and buying them at a co-op seems to be one of easiest ways to ensure this.
  • We could also buy our fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market. In theory, I have always loved the idea of going to farmer’s markets and buying most of the food that I need. Somehow, it never seems to work out so easily. I am convinced that it is because I just don’t know how to shop effectively or productively at these markets. I don’t like to haggle. I also don’t like crowds. And, I don’t always know how to tell which vegetable to pick–is it ripe? under ripe? too ripe? STA, let me know if you can find an app for this!

aside: Many years ago, before we had kids, I used to love to cook. I can’t remember when or for how long I did this, but for some time I experimented with a different vegetable each week. While I can’t remember all of the vegetables I tried, I do remember learning to really love leeks (which I hadn’t heard of prior to my experiment) and sweet potatoes (which I knew about before, but only as a decidedly inferior form of potatoes to begrudgingly eat at a relative’s Thanksgiving dinner). It seems to me that in order to enjoy eating again, it might be helpful to not only think about where my food comes from or how it got to my table, but to learn a little more about what it is–is it really a vegetable, or is it merely a fruit that thinks of itself as a vegetable? When is it in season? What should I eat (and drink) with it?

Okay, that’s enough for tonight. I’m sure that as this experiment progresses, I will come up with many things to add to this list. One last thing: as I was quickly reviewing this post, I had an idea (STA, this is for you). I think it might be helpful to do some posts, or create a page (I think I like the page idea better) with useful links–to local stores we visit or want to try, to helpful resources about food, etc. Not only could this serve as a useful resource for our many readers (ha!), but it could be a great way for us to archive our process and to get suggestions for our own future store visits.

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6 Responses to Day one: some reflections

  1. Kandace says:

    Ok…

    So, first I feel like a creepy stalker because I so thoroughly enjoyed these posts (and because your writing as in both of your perspectives) made me feel slightly as though I was peeking into your house and you all didn’t know I was there! (I was laughing at Scott’s hating of plans and your anxiety at the too many choices options at the store!)

    Secondly, I’m so with you about the fruit, veggie dilemma in our hood. In fact, that is one of a few complaints I have about living in South Minneapolis, there aren’t many accessible co-ops and honestly it takes WAY too much planning (and I AM a planner!) for me to work one into my grocery shopping routine plus, I tend to think people at the Wedge are WAY too pretentious and judgmental. So, do you two ever go to the Farmer’s market over on Lake and Hiawatha-ish on the weekends? It’s in the parking lot across from the YWCA, I don’t know what it’s called but it seems bike-able at least. (I am not sure if I’d bike to meet you there, but I wouldn’t be opposed to joining you if you decide to go next weekend. :-)) Oh, and secondly I thought of a few other options that I would like to do but I am unable to financially and don’t have a nice patch of grass that gets the sun respectively but you two might want to – 1. invest in a CSA share, I’m not sure if it’s too late to sign up but there are lots in the cities and I’m always very jealous of what you get in your bin – plus SLP it might inspire you to be creative and put your nerd hat on when you get veggies you’ve never seen, and 2. plant some herbs and plants that aren’t so difficult to manage in your yard! Some things off your receipt that I think are very manageable: tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeños to just begin. Then imagine all the great salsa and pico you could make all summer! Ok, really what needs to happen is I quite writing and move in with you all and plant a magnificent garden, I want to be a part of this fun project!

    Lastly, I commend you on your dedication to this project! I am the only grocery shopper in my house and don’t have much time to go, so I end up trying to get everything/most of my items that I can on one trip so kudos to you for your frequent walks to the grocery store!

    ok, I’ll try to stop being a creepy stalker now!

  2. SLP says:

    Thanks Kandace for your response and being such a faithful reader of our many blogs. While you may not be directly participating in our shopping and cooking experiences (although we would love to have you join us anytime you want), you are part of this project. Both STA and I knew (or at least anticipated) that you would read this blog. Your continued support of these projects helps inspire me to keep doing them. Thanks! [note: There are all sorts of ways I would like to theorize about the role of readers in the process and the types of communities/connections that can develop (maybe that could be part of our chapter this summer?)]

    STA and I did consider a CSA. I can’t quite figure out if I am too intimated by them or if they scare me because doing one seems to be too restrictive (you know how me and rules/restrictions don’t get along too well). I like your idea about growing things. One problem: we have lots of critters. Squirrels, raccoons, some uppity chipmunks, bats, feral cats, bunnies, and who knows what else. (in the city!). I shudder to think what might happen to that poor basil or tomatoes after we go to sleep. I do love growing things, though….

  3. Kandace says:

    Well if my (hibernating) cooking blog could talk, she would be really excited about the fact that you two are putting up recipes, discussing shopping for foods (you know how I love my Cub Foods on Lake St.!), and pictures of your final projects up here!

    I am with you about the critters, don’t forget that turkey you saw over by the falls! But, I know that many people do garden despite many critters, and while I haven’t done it I know there are many different natural plants you can plant to deter the critters from getting to your eatables. I’m totally going to have a garden and a gardening blog one day – just imagine what could come out of “garden meet la kitchen chicana, la kitchen chicana meet garden…”

    I love you and STA’s Blogs. Maybe I should go with the crowd and change my comment handle to KCF though…

  4. SLP says:

    Thanks for mentioning your blog, KCF! When STA posted his entry about the in-and- outesque burgers, etc., I immediately thought about it and how inspiring it was/is to me. I like imagining that it could talk. Maybe it would say, “Hey Kandace, you need to finish that dissertation so you can start writing in me again!!” 🙂

  5. Jennifer says:

    Menu planning: always sounds so effective, efficient, and smart. But why don’t I do it more often? If you successfully implement meal planning on a weekly (or longer!), please write about it.

    P.S. I will trade you a snarky crow for one of your uppity chipmunks!

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