The Case of All Jessamyn’s Missing Stuff- The Unwritten Encyclopedia Brown Book

I wish I knew Encyclopedia Brown. Or Nancy Drew. Does anyone have Veronica Mars’ cell phone number?

Remember when last Friday was so awesome? Remember when I was like “THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER I LOVE MY LIFE RAHRAHRAH”?

Well, the tide has finally turned.

But let’s get real. It could be a lot worse. This situation could be SO much worse.

However, that doesn’t make having your wallet, drivers license, social security card, student id, and debit credit card stolen any easier to swallow. Or any easier to replace.

Oh, but that’s not all.

Apparently they needed to steal MY CAMERA as well.

Ironically, my camera’s been stolen right after I blogged about my desire for a new camera. But that’s kind of not the point right now- don’t cha think?

Anyway, at least I photographed my new favorite thing of the week before the great theft of 2011.

Oh, wait, that’s right- I DIDN’T.

Oh well. I’m going to go bask in a glow of self-deprecation and self-loathing. If you need me, I’ll be at the DMV. Waiting in line. Forever.

This entry is such a downer. On the very bright side, I’m seeing Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zanes Dance tonight in Greensboro (!!!!!). AND I have my first race of the season tomorrow morning. So everything will start coming up roses in the near future. But in the short term, my cheery smile will be a little lopsided.

Oh, and Riverrun Film Festival starts today! If you’re in the area, go out and support the triad film community.

On an unrelated note, if you see anyone walking around the triad with a clutch handbag made of recycled cheetos bags, feel free to submit them in for interrogation in the case of ALL MY MISSING STUFF.

Have a great weekend, y’all. Smile

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Trouble With Food Tracking and My Wish List

I learned a valuable lesson today. It’s a lesson I’ve been forced to learn about 187391092779 times over, and I hope this time the true meaning will stick in my mind so that I’ll quit making the same mistakes.

If you are monitoring your food intake, ALWAYS TRACK YOUR MEALS.

I know, it seems obvious. It is obvious. It’s also the cornerstone of the Weight Watchers philosophy. But I am the laziest tracker in the history of the world. I spent the month of March being really lazy about my tracking habits- partially because I was fasting, and partially because I’m just really freaking lazy. As a result, when I stepped on the scale two weeks ago, I wasn’t very surprised to be pissed off by the number it gave me. However, I was a little surprised to be even more upset by the number I saw last week. In my defense, I was on my period and I always weigh really heavy when I’m menstruating. But I also didn’t track very well last week. I always start the week strong, and then I taper off toward the middle of the week. When I stop tracking, it becomes infinitely easier to impulsively eat the foods which sabotage me and my goals.

This week, however, I really focused on my tracking- even when I didn’t feel like it. And I saw definite results on the scale this morning. I need to maintain this momentum- sometimes tracking my food is just such a F-ing hassle. But I have to remember that the long term goals are worth the extra five minutes of effort.

In other news, I’ve been accumulating a wish list of items which will improve my blogging/cooking/athletic life. While the list grows steadily every day, there are a couple of items that are really key:

canon rebel1. New Camera- I love my camera. I really do. It’s small, and I can take it everywhere. But I need to get serious about my photography, especially in regard to my blogging. I mean, I’m well aware that a fancy camera does not create great photos- there’s no substitute for good lighting and composition. But I want the quality of my photography to increase, and I don’t want to invest more money in another point and shoot when I’m pleased with the point and shoot I’m using. I need to upgrade to dslr. My ideal model is the Canon Rebel– of course, it’s really expensive. I’m looking for a used canon, and I’m actually looking primarily at older models. I spend quite a bit of time scouring ebay for viable options. At this point, it’s just a little too far out of my financial grasp. But I’m hopeful- if you know anyone who is upgrading to another model and wants to get rid of their dslr, let me know!

garmin heart rate monitor2. Heart Rate Monitor: I think I need to be monitoring my activity level more vigilantly and I think a heart rate monitor will really help with this goal. I’d like to kn0w exactly how many calories I’m burning while exercising and I’d like to get more precise heart rate calculations. This will help me determine how I should be increasing/decreasing my exercise levels, especially as I reach weight plateaus and finish couch to 5k. At this point I’m battling between a garmin and a polar– price is an obvious factor, but I’m still just trying to decide between the two brands. As always, I’m really open to any insight you guys might have.

running shoe fitting guides3. Running Shoes: I actually already talked about this, but it’s become a true necessity. I don’t know how I’ll make it through the summer running season (especially since I definitely plan to run/race when I’m in Boston) wearing the shoes I have right now. These are great sneaks for general exercise, but I need to take better care of my tootsie wootsies if I’m going to keep up this hobby. I’ve received some great running shoe store recommendations in both GSO and Winston-Salem, but I still can’t quite decide between Fleet Feet and Off’N Running. In fact, I might have to get fitted after Saturday’s race– but maybe I’m being too impulsive. Thoughts?

citrus reamer4. Citrus Reamer: Self-explanatory. I bite my nails, and citrus juice+ bitten cuticles= LAME.

All this talk about running has made me pretty pumped about my run tonight. It’s weird how I’m sort of starting to like it.

…I hope I didn’t speak too soon. Smile

3 Comments

Filed under blogging, body issues, couch to 5k challenge, exercise, food, goals, money honey, races, running, shopping, weigh-in, Weight Watchers

Eating as a Non-Vegetarian- Lime and Garlic Marinated Porkchops with Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Ok, I admit it: I like meat.

I don’t eat it very much. In fact, I eat it pretty infrequently. I rarely purchase it.

But I like it. I like the way it tastes. And there are very few photos of piglets that will make me feel guilty about enjoying a slice of bacon.

However, what I can’t come to terms with is what happened to the meat before its arrival at my dinner table. It arrives after inhumane mammalian brutality, hundreds (if not thousands) of travel miles, and undocumented harm to food workers.

All because I wanted a slice of bacon.

Yeah…that’s not ok.

I’m reaching a point in my life where I can’t bear to purchase meat that’s been produced in ways I can’t stomach. I mean, my ancestors ate meat- but the meat they ate is not the meat I buy at my local grocery store.

As regular readers of this blog know, I can pontificate on this topic for pages and pages. But all I really need to say is that in order for me to eat meat, I need to be prepared to find meat that was harvested from animals who were raised humanely.

Yes, it will be expensive. But that’s the price of being an omnivore in the 21st century first world.

ANYWAY, since yesterday was the most beautiful day ever (seriously, anyone who wasn’t in the North Carolina triad yesterday missed out on a gorgeous Southern spring day), I decided to make my girlfriend a spring-y dinner of pork chops and quinoa.

So where does an ecologically conscious Winston-Salem resident go when they want fresh meat?

Whole Foods Market, of course.

Whole Foods has a remarkable devotion to the sale of sustainably produced food items AND (probably most importantly) to crafting and maintaining solid relationships with farmers and ranchers. Since the food chain from farmer to consumer grows with every congressional bill and ‘science innovation’, it is more important than ever for us to support companies who strive to cut out the millions of middle men who get in the way of Americans eating food which doesn’t go against the evolution of our bodies.

As far as meat sales go, Whole Foods adheres to the stringent guidelines of the Animal Welfare Rating Standards, which are produced by the Global Animal Partnership. Basically, they have a 5 step standards list which details the requirements for a livestock animal’s living conditions. It looks like this:

Step 1: No crowding
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

As you probably noticed, there’s no step 3 for cattle. There are separate charts for poultry and pigs. And at Whole Foods, all the meat options are labeled with the number which corresponds to this chart. It’s another way of letting you know where your food came from.

Since I was making pork chops, here are the five steps I looked at:

Step 1: No crates, stalls or cages
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

452011 003

I ended up buying some very pretty chops from a local farm with a 4 rating. There were other options, but the fact that the meat came from a nearby farm means that the journey from farm to table was very short, and it insures the freshest ingredients possible.

It does not, however, insure the cheapest price.

452011 001

But here’s the thing- I can’t pretend to not know what I know about factory farming. And if I want to eat meat in spite of that knowledge, I need to be prepared to pay the price.

Plus, the flavor of this finished dinner was more than worth the money. I’m not a huge fan of lime and/or cilantro, but both of those flavors keep popping up in my recipes recently. I’m blaming it on Chipotle– I mean, who doesn’t love their cilantro-lime rice? But instead of making rice, I decided to try out the same flavor combo with quinoa. I’d say it was a success- Kate basically licked her plate clean.

(Ok, so she didn’t lick it clean. But she probably wanted to lick it clean.)

Both of these recipes are unbelievably simple, and can be whipped up very quickly. They can be served together, or paired with other dishes. For example, substituting cilanto-lime quinoa in a homemade Chipotle burrito bowl is a healthier option than eating mounds of fluffy white rice.

(I mean, don’t get me wrong- I LOVE fluffy white rice. But quinoa is just as delicious, and packs an unbeatable nutritional punch.)

452011 009

Lime and Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

(Adapted from Gina’s Skinny Recipes)

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending upon size of pork chops)

Ingredients:

4 (6 oz) lean boneless pork chops ( for the record, I made this recipe using 2 super thick bone-in chops, and the proportions still worked perfectly)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 lime, juice of

lime zest

salt and fresh pepper

1. Trim off extra pork fat.

Basically, go from here:

452011 003

To Here:

452011 004

2. In a large bowl season pork with garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice and some zest from the lime and let it marinade at least 20 minutes.

452011 007

I always recommend long marinade times, but if you need to make this in a hurry, 20 minutes should get the job done. I had to whip up this meal pretty quickly, and I think 20 minutes was long enough to get a good flavor infusion.


3. Line broiler pan with foil for easy clean up. Place pork chops on the broiler pan and broil about 4-6 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.

While that’s cooking…

Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa

1 1/4 cup Water

1 lime, juice of

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1. Follow my instructions for fool-proof quinoa.

2. While quinoa is cooking, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, and remaining oil in a medium bowl and toss until completely mixed. When quinoa is finished cooking, add it to cilantro-lime mixture and toss until coated.

Bam, dinner is served.

452011 010

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you: Kate and I also ate French fries with our dinner. But those French fries are extra special, and will be reviewed in a separate post. However, just for the record, they were absolutely delicious. Smile

Leave a comment

Filed under food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, recipes, shopping

Books, Books, Books- Merry Christmas, Jessamyn

I’ve been a bad girl. Well, not really- I mean it’s been a celebratory weekend. Doesn’t that mean I deserve a few treats?

Ok, maybe I got a few too many treats. But in my defense, I legitimately “needed” several of my purchases. And the others…well, whatever. Plus, I’m too much of a gluttonous American to conceal my purchases from you guys. Smile

The Borders Bookstore in Greensboro is closing its doors- sad story. On the bright side, the entire store is 60—80% off. So really, I can only express so much sadness.

I emerged from the store with quite a large haul (and I giant grin):

432011 003

  • The Radleys by Matt Haig. I started reading this book months ago, and couldn’t bring myself to actually buy it. I harbor a slight (understatement of the year) obsession with vampire lore. The Radleys is about a family of vampires who’ve assimilated into human society by learning to eat real food. It’s been very well-reviewed, and I was quick to snap it up when I saw a 70% off sign hanging above it (and it’s hardcover WHAT)
  • Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy: yet another book that’s been hanging out in my amazon shopping cart. 70% off? Yes, please.
  • A mess of greeting cards, which (at 80%off) cost less than $2.00 total.
  • Shortbus: this movie kind of changed my life. I’ve been in love with it for years, but it’s very difficult to find. Even if you can find it, it’s usually kind of expensive. I CAN’T BELIEVE it was there- I snapped it up, even though it cost more than I wanted to spend.
  • Not For Tourists- NYC 2010 and a Boston street map: Self-explanatory. I’m an obsessive geek, what can I say.
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan: Michael Pollan also wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the book that’s been taking up all of my free time. I was really excited to snag this book, but I didn’t actually get it at Borders. I bought it during an unplanned record buying frenzy at one of my favorite used bookstores, Edward McKays.

While I was at Edward McKays, I also bought a couple of new records (I bought one record that I can’t post- it’s a gift for someone who reads this blog, and I don’t want to spoil the surprise Smile):

432011 005

Anyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that owning Prince’s 1999 was an absolute necessity. Also, I had to get this Donna Summer record. Really. Stop rolling your eyes.

432011 006

It includes “Mac Arthur Park”. Have you heard Donna Summer’s version of “Mac Arthur Park”? It’s disco magic that WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.

In fact:

Yeah, I’m listening to this right now.

Speaking of books, have y’all heard about The Bookup?

the bookup

Simple concept- show up, bring books, read books. No talking. Lots of eating.

And I promise this isn’t a dream. It’s real life!

The first Triad Bookup will be April 13th, 6pm-8pm, at Bin 33, a new-ish Greensboro restaurant with seriously delicious eats- they are also renowned for having one of the triad’s best wine selections, and a Bottomless Champagne Sunday Brunch. But for real, the food is DE-lish.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this event. I love to read while I’m eating, and this is the absolute best of both worlds. It’s a free event (pay for your food, obvi), and you can donate books to the library. If you’re in the triad area, definitely consider coming to this event- and if you can’t make it to April 13th event, look out for future Bookups.

Happy Sunday!

1 Comment

Filed under books, shopping

Wait, Is All of This An April Fools’ Joke?

So, yesterday was probably the best April Fools Day on record. Well, the best April Fools’ day in my personal history. And I’m pretty sure none of this was part of an April Fools’ joke.

money tree

1. Student Loan Refund Checks were distributed- Self-explanatory. I’m no longer in the proverbial poor house. I mean, I’m still broke. But at least I’m not scrounging for pennies under seat cushions. Ok, I’m still doing that. Whatever, I CAN OFFICIALLY PAY MY RENT LET’S CELEBRATE.

 

2.  Jessamyn Not Jasmine Takes On The World- Yesterday was packed with a lot of REALLY exciting blog-related developments. Some of them are so exciting that I can’t talk about them quite yet. But one thing that made me super pumped was my mention in Backyard Produce’s weekly newsletter! I wrote a review of their service earlier this week, and they were kind enough to give me a shout out in their publication. As a result, I have quite a few new readers- HELLO NEW READERS! I hope you realize that I get as much from  you as you do from me- if you ever have any suggestions, comments, complaints, requests, ideas, magic tricks, hula hooping tips, etc., feel free to blow up my comment boxes or e-mail me (jessamyneatspraysloves@gmail.com). I’m so glad to internet-meet each and every one of you.

wgbh

3. WGBH- Yesterday I found out that I am going to be a WGBH/Kenan Institute Summer Fellow. This fellowship is beyond the cat’s meow- I’m going to spend my summer working at the WGBH headquarters in Boston, as well as spending time at Seftel Productions in NYC. I’ll be working on a project about- well, actually, I don’t know if I’m allowed to reveal the details of the project. Just know that the topic is EXTREMELY interesting, and it is going to involve a lot of interaction and conversation with people from all walks of life. I don’t think there’s a way to express how stoked I am. My excitement about this opportunity extends to every aspect of my personal and professional life. Plus- did I mention I’m going to be in one of my favorite cities all summer?

Speaking of Backyard Produce, have y’all seen some of their offerings this week? Here are three I’m especially excited about:

tatsoi

Tatsoi, a green I’ve wanted to try for a long time. I’ve heard the flavor is similar to a hybrid of bok choy and mustard greens. I love both of those plants, so I’m really excited to try tatsoi. BY PRODUCE POINTS: 7

collard greens

I went off on an extended tangent about proper collard green preparation after my trip to Milner’s restaurant last week. This week, I am really excited to make some collard greens the way my grandma taught me. However, I’m crafting a  vegan friendly version of my family’s famous ham hock-soaked greens. This week I’m going to put in some time with this recipe, and Backyard Produce is going to play a huge role. BY PRODUCE POINTS: 5

purple sweet potatoes

Um, purple sweet potatoes. Need I say more? Smile BY PRODUCE POINTS: 5

If you’re still on the fence about trying Backyard Produce, try this on for size- tell them Jessamyn referred you, and we’ll both get 10 extra points. Is that a win or what?

I’d love to stay and chat, but the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds which means it is a perfect Farmer’s Market day. If you’re racing today, I’m sending you lots of positive vibrations. Actually, I’m sending everyone positive vibrations. Smile

Have a great weekend, y’all!

1 Comment

Filed under blogging, farmers market, food, shopping

Jessamyn’s March Goals Wrap-Up- The Biggest April Fools’ Joke Of All

I can’t believe it’s already April. March usually feels like the world’s longest month to me, and while it did seem a bit lengthy, it didn’t drag by like usual.

Fortunately, I had a great month as far as my goals are concerned.

APRIL FOOLS- I did not do well with my goals. In fact, I knew by the middle of the month that this wrap-up was probably not going to go well. However, it’s good that I can look back at what I did wrong and figure out ways to do better in April. It’s all about growth, and that’s the purpose of writing specific goals.

Ok, let’s see:

MARCH GOALS:

  • Write at least four blog entries/week.

Um…..clearly this didn’t happen. I averaged about two per week. But considering I spent a good portion of March on spring break/finishing finals/working on a play/running around like a chicken with my head cut off, this was a fairly good average. However, I’ve developed a pretty good groove with writing, and I’m sure I’ll be able to maintain it during April.

  • Of the four blog entries, write at least one recipe entry and try/blog about at least one new product per week.

In my defense, I have several recipes photographed and ready to post. I’m just….ugh, I’M JUST JESSAMYN AND I GET DISTRACTED ALL THE TIME WAHWAHWAH FORGIVE ME. I posted three recipes  this month (out of five weeks- not so bad), but hang on- I did several restaurant reviews, and I reviewed a bunch of new (to me) products. Maybe it balances out? Plus I still have my Guinness chocolate cake recipe forthcoming (I made it on St. Patrick’s Day, but we’ll pretend like that wasn’t almost three weeks ago).

  • Do a deep spring cleaning of my apartment, including window washing and oven cleaning. I will also look for new kitchen lighting.

I did actually do a pretty deep clean of my apartment. However, I didn’t wash the windows or clean the oven. I mean, I’m not Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. But I did clean parts of my bedroom which have been messy….pretty much since September. I began the hunt for new kitchen lighting (photographing in my kitchen is like photographing in Grendel’s mom’s kitchen), but I haven’t made any official decisions. However, quite ironically, the overhead lamp in my kitchen blew out a couple of days ago. And since I have sweeping, loft-like ceilings (one of my favorite parts of the apartment), I’ve been using a table lamp from my living room until I can get hold of a ladder. Basically, after dark, my kitchen  now looks as though it is lit by candle light.

  • Watch 1 new movie every two weeks.

Surprisingly, I didn’t do too shabby with this goal- a major step up from February. In March, I watched Eat, Pray, Love (two thumbs down), Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood (two thumbs down- did Maggie Smith have a dialect coach?), An Affair To Remember (two thumbs WAY UP), A Wink and A Smile: The Art of Burlesque (two thumbs up), the majority of Fantastic Mr. Fox (I’ll comment if/when I ever finish watching it), and Waiting For “Superman” (two thumbs up- I cried like a baby). I also watched an embarrassingly large amount of Parks and Recreation, with a generous amount of Jersey Shore sprinkled on top for good measure (Team J-Woww and Snookie- yeah, that’s right. I took it there.)

  • Continue with the couch to 5k Challenge, and water jog AT LEAST once every two weeks

So I only water jogged once. Meh. But I did continue with couch to 5k, and broke lots of personal boundaries. Because of my fasting period (which took up the vast majority of March) and spring break, I got a little behind on my running schedule toward the middle of the month. However, I’m making up the time I lost and I’m back on my original schedule. I feel really good about my pacing and my endurance. I still don’t love running, but I’m definitely becoming more confident in my abilities.

  • Prepare for my first 5k of the season, and possibly walk/run one before the end of the month

Because of scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to do a race during March. However, my first official race is next weekend and I’m pumped- you can check my races and see where I’m going to be this month. If you’re in the triad and want to do/already plan to do one/all of these races, let me know so we can smile at and high five each other. Smile

  • Strength Training 2-3 days/week

It was more like two days per week, but at least it happened.

  • Continue the 200 Sit-ups Training Program

I don’t want to talk about it…

Ugh, that was rough. But let’s talk NEW GOALS. There are some definite repeat goals, but I’m repeating them because I know they’re attainable. Even if I pretend otherwise.

APRIL GOALS:

  • Write at least four blog entries/week.
  • Strength Training 2-3 days/week
  • Continue with the couch to 5k Challenge
  • Of the four blog entries/week, alternate reviewing one restaurant per week and posting a new recipe per week
  • Watch 1 new movie every two weeks.
  • Stick to a food budget of $75/week (including a fruits/veggies budget of roughly $25/week )
  • Finish reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Middlesex
  • Successfully run/walk all of my April 5Ks, in preparation for my first full run 5K in May
  • Maintain a (financially and health-related) balanced diet during my New York City trip at the end of the month.

Whew. I think I can do it. In fact, I know I can do it.

….I hope that doesn’t turn out to be another April Fools Joke. Smile

BY THE WAY,

my name (and this blog) have been thrown into the ring for Yes! Weekly’s Triad’s Best Blogger Award. Even if you’re not a triad resident, I would be absolutely thrilled to have you go to their website and vote for me. There are tons of categories, but you don’t have to vote in every category. It’s very simple to cast your vote:

1.  Click this Link.

2. Type in your name and e-mail address, then click ‘Save’

3. Click ‘Media’, scroll down to ‘Best Blogger’ and select ‘Jessamyn Not Jasmine’ from the list of options.

4. Click ‘Save’. You’re done! Smile

Of course I’ve found out about this at the very last minute, so I’m sure my last ditch effort to win probably won’t be enough to shoulder out some of the frontrunners. However, it’s really wonderful to be recognized and I hope this leads to more Triad residents checking out Jessamyn Not Jasmine.

Happy Poisson D’Avril!

2 Comments

Filed under blogging, goals

Food, Inc., Corporate Farming, Online Farmer’s Markets, and Backyard Produce- An Exercise in American Consumerism

Last weekend- remember  when I went on a pilgrimage to Charlotte and lost my mind at Trader Joe’s? Remember when I mentioned that I didn’t buy very much produce, but that the reason would be explained in the future?

Well, the reason is about to be revealed- but first, let me give a little back story.

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

I don’t know how clearly I can state this- I am a cheapskate. I hate paying more money than is absolutely necessary. It’s not just because I hate spending money- it’s because I don’t have a lot of money to spend. There’s never been a point in my life when I haven’t been on a very restrictive budget.

One of the biggest problems with the Western food industry is that it is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive to eat whole foods than it is to eat processed foods, from potato chips to factory farmed “Idaho Potatoes”. I’ve spent the past three years actively trying to resolve my budget issues with a healthy balance of organically produced food and cheaper options. Up until about four months ago, I thought I’d finally struck the perfect balance.

That was before I saw this:

food, inc

If you are able, rent/buy this film. It’s on netflix instant right now- when you are done reading this entry, WATCH IT*. As one of my friend’s recently said, Food, Inc. should be broadcast on CNN 24/7. EVERYONE needs to see this film.” I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told to watch Food, Inc. who’ve told me that they’ve held off on watching it because they don’t want to feel guilty about or grossed out by their eating habits (i.e.- they will feel guilty about eating meat). I understand this dilemma. But here’s the thing- the movie does not seek to shame anyone. It is not very visually graphic. It doesn’t promote vegetarianism, or any specific diet. It puts the food industry into colors so vivid that you can’t help but wonder why we’ve become so complacent in our food choices.

Here’s the truth- if you didn’t buy your food directly from a farmer, you probably have absolutely no idea where it came from and you CERTAINLY don’t know what’s in it. I’m not just talking about the center aisles of your grocery store- you know, “foods” that come in boxes, or that arrive to your store frozen. I’m talking about the “healthy” fruits and vegetables, the dairy products, and every piece of “fresh” meat and fish homogenously wrapped in plastic for your enjoyment. There is a deliberate veil between food manufacturers and food consumers, and when you start looking behind the curtain you’ll be repulsed by what you see. It’s not just about the literal ingredients of your food- this film exposes all of the unseen costs of producing the food you eat, from distorted food laws and travel costs, to the horrific exploitation of ALL food industry workers. We’re not just talking about exploitation in other countries- the things happening to our American brothers and sisters (hell, our NORTH CAROLINA brothers and sisters) will make your head spin.

And we support them. Every time we go to the grocery store or a restaurant, we support corporations which deliberately try to mislead us. Every time you buy fruits and vegetables produced in far-reaching parts of the globe (which is more than often the case), you are directly furthering deep set afflictions between farmers, workers, governments, and the international oil industry. It is important that, as consumers, we make ourselves aware of the real decisions we’re making, and change our actions in order to affect a balanced economy and work-force.

The balance I struck in my personal eating/buying habits was not where it should be. I was perfectly happy purchasing food that wasn’t produced in an ethical fashion simply because it made my wallet feel less pain. However, the source of pain I feel now has much less to do with money and more to do with the power of my individual dollar. It is much more important for me, as a tax-paying American consumer,  to buy foods which do not support unhealthy corporate farming, which are organically produced, and (whenever possible) support my local economy. In my opinion, this is the most important decision I can make as a consumer. I know how easy it is to say, “I can’t afford to do this” or “I can’t afford to do that”. And it’s true- there are millions of Americans who simply can not afford to make the necessary changes to their lifestyles. BUT I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. And I have to lead by example.

Anyway, one of last week’s groupons was $18 for delivery of one box of local and organic produce from Backyard Produce, a North Carolina online farmer’s market. I have read extensively about online farmer’s markets, and was already well aware of Backyard Produce- but, to be frank, I’ve always thought fruit  and vegetable delivery was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Though this groupon deal was a steal, the typical price of a medium box of produce is $23.49, not including the $12 annual packaging fee. However, after critically looking at my produce buying habits, I decided it would be worth it to try out Backyard Produce with this groupon.

Here’s how it works:

You choose from three different sizes- small, medium, and large. Each package size equates to a certain number of points- 20, 40, or 60. You then use the points to choose from their weekly selection of food options. The options rotate every week, and are subject to availability- while not all selections are locally produced, they are organic, fresh, and arrive to your front door the following Wednesday in refrigerated boxes to ensure freshness.

Sign-up is really simple, and you have up until Sunday night to decide which fruits and veggies you want in that week’s delivery. I made my choices, sent in my order, and waited with bated breath until Wednesday.

Yesterday, after a very stressful day, I was pleased to see this waiting on my front porch:

3312011 001

I gave very specific directions on how to reach my apartment (which can be a little confusing), and I was super pleased to see that the delivery person had no trouble figuring it out.

As promised, the produce was protected by refrigeration insulation:

3312011 005

Just in case you were wondering, the annual $12 packaging fee helps them reduce the amount of packaging they use. Every week, they pick up your packaging from the previous delivery and reuse it. Great system.

3312011 008

Let’s see what I ordered, eh?

3312011 009
Granny Smith apples, organic WA – 2 count- 4 points

Baby Carrots, organic CA – 1lb- 5 points

Navel Oranges, organic FL – 3 count- 5 points

Tommy Atkins Mango, organic Ecuador – 2 count- 3 points each  (6 points total)

Salad Mix, Cottle Farm NC organic – 1/2 pound- 4 points

Kiwifruit, organic Chile – 2 count- 3 points

Bibb Lettuce, Green Haven Farms hydroponic NC – 1 head- 7 points

TOTAL POINTS USED: 34

As you can see, I only used 34 of my 40 points, leaving 6 points for a future delivery. I was extremely pleased with the quality of my items- bruise free, chilled, and clean. The mangos are nice and large (which is not always the case with mangos), and everything smells great.

At this point I can’t decide if it will be worth it to use Backyard Produce in the future. I still think it’s a little too expensive- but is it really?

I mean, I spend a lot of money on produce every week. In fact, I’m probably spending more than $23.49, not including the gas to/from the grocery store/farmer’s market. Though I’ll keep going to these spots for the rest of my items (and any incidental vegetation I might want), it is really awesome to have fresh, local, organic produce arrive at my door and ready for the week without having to judge by sale prices. I can change up my order every week, depending upon my weekly meal plan. Hmm.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my Backyard Produce experience thus far. This particular company only services the North Carolina Triad, Triangle, and Charlotte area. However, there are online farmer’s market delivery services all over the country- I’ve heard about them in urban centers, and in other parts of America. At the very least, they are worth a try-the convenience factor is unbeatable, and the price might be in your ballpark.

*And yes, that was an inadvertent plug for netflix. I love netflix- and so should you.

3 Comments

Filed under farmers market, food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, product review, shopping