Thursday, May 6, 2010

2:15 a.m.  I'm sitting up, freshly showered, waiting for both my hair and the cloth diapers to finish drying. My hair because, as I mentioned before, it looks like poo if go to bed with it wet. The diapers because I borrowed them from my friend Christine and I need to pass them on to another pregnant mama who is due in three weeks. I'm still trying to fine tune my diapering system this time around, but long story short, we're going to use prefolds and wool for a while. I used to geek out over cloth diapers, but at this point they're mostly functional and not much for me to get excited about. Still, I like them and I'm glad we use them. The El Cheapo side of me thrills at the fact that I've never purchased a disposable diaper.

Parenthood and thrift have turned us into accidental environmentalists. We don't do nearly as much as a lot of people, but for a family who a few years ago was virtually oblivious to our impact on the world around us, we've come a long way. I think back to our first apartment in Atlanta. We had a recycling box that I'm not sure we ever touched. Jason might have put the newspaper in there. That's embarrassing! I hadn't grown up recycling so it just wasn't on our radar. Note to myself in 2003: it's not that hard. Today I get a kick out of finding things we can put in the recyling, and now the compost.

It's helpful that the better choice for the earth is also sometimes the better choice for our health and/or our wallets. Everyone who knows me knows I'm all about the breastfeeding advocacy, but when I think back to when I was pregnant with Nora, saving money was a huge reason I wanted to breastfeed. Same with the cloth diapers. We made an investment up front but it really paid off in the long run. I made all of Nora's baby food because it was fun and because there were perfectly good organic fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market--why not buy them and steam them myself instead of paying Gerber to do it for me? I was home anyway. Reusable grocery bags are obviously a huge trend over the past few years, but now that everybody in the world seems to be using them, I wonder why we weren't doing it all along! Our hybrid vehicle is purchase that was partially driven by my obsession with good gas mileage and partially just the luck of being in the right place at the right time.

This brings me to our latest venture. I think we're going to join a meat CSA. We've long been curious about purchasing local grassfed beef, but I always thought it wasn't an option for us because we don't have much freezer space. The goal here is both to eat locally grown food and to eat animals that are raised in a humane environment and eating the foods they're meant to be eating, like grass instead of corn for beef. After seeing Food, Inc I decided to investigate a little more and find out the smallest amount that we could buy in bulk and still have room to store. Google seems to think that my freezer could hold 35-40 pounds, but in doing this research I learned about an alternative to making a one-time grassfed beef purchase: the meat CSA. I have been familiar with the idea of fruit and veggie CSA for several years. There are probably dozens in the Atlanta area and we have considered buying in in the past, but there were a few things about them that weren't practical for our family. Our interest in fresh and local produce led us to starting our garden. I'd never heard about the same idea applied to meats, but I'm intrigued and think this could be a great thing for our family. The way it works is that we pay a (hefty) sum and we receive two dozen eggs and sixteen pounds of meat, a mixture of grassfed beef and pastured pork. We would probably try to obtain a free range chicken from time to time. We're going to try this for three months and see how it goes.

I'm a little bit excited, a little bit intimidated. This is going to require a big chunk of our food budget every month, so I hope we can budget wisely and make the most of our CSA share. We already try to eat a couple of vegetarian meals a week and we want to continue doing that. I feel like we eat way more than sixteen pounds of meat a month right now, but I'm really not sure. We do eat out too much right now and we really need to stop that like, yesterday. One of the things I'm the most nervous about is learning to cook cuts of meat I'm not used to working with. I have learned to cook gradually over the course of my adulthood, and there has been a lot of boneless chicken in my past. I'm not afraid to try new things (thanks to the internet--I'd be hopeless in the kitchen without it) but things like roasts are just intimidating. Such a big hunk of meat to potentially screw up, you know? There's also a part of me that is a little bit sad to say goodbye to those grocery store sales on factory farmed chicken. When the prices would drop to $1.69/lb I'd buy ten pounds and stock the freezer. Local chicken seems insanely expensive, and I have to cook the whole thing, something I've only done a handful of times. Between this CSA and cooking from my garden, I'll be challenged to get creative in the kitchen, which is honestly a great thing for me. I think I'm a very capable cook, but I'm very married to my recipes. I think it will be nice to break out of that pattern. Just don't expect any photos of what I cook, because I'm bad at taking pictures of food, and poorly taken food pictures gross me out.

1 comment:

Dara said...

Take pictures for me! And I bet you'll do better than you think you will. I'm excited to see how this works out for y'all.

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