The way I eat now, compared to even a year ago, has drastically changed. I eat so many more vegetables, read ingredient labels, drink black coffee, and am continuing to heal my relationship with food. These are all great things, but are they enough? In the world of clean eating, there’s all this talk about the quality of your food. I get it. Knowing where your food comes from is ideal. I’ve seen the documentaries and have read plenty of articles. I understand that the treatment of animals in the food industry can be downright horrendous and that your vegetables are affected by the soil they grow in. But it’s so hard for me to justify spending double, triple the amount of money on food that I’m frankly not sure is really that much better for me. If I’m looking at this from an animal rights perspective, I think being vegetarian is the way to go. But from a nutritional standpoint, are grass-fed and organic really that much more beneficial to my health?
The answer is, I don’t know. But I still get suckered into thinking that my natural way of eating isn’t natural enough. And so this week I bought my very first CSA produce box. For those of you not aware of what this is, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You typically commit to buying a certain number of weeks worth of produce prior to receiving your share, then weekly you’ll get a mystery box of fresh, local and primarily organic produce. I’ve been curious about joining a CSA for quite some time, but was hesitant to commit. Alas! I found a natural grocer near my Chicago apartment that does not require a commitment, simply a week’s notice that you want a box, and the cost was by far the cheapest I’d seen – only $15! I opted for the vegetable only option as opposed to the fruit and veggie mix. Here’s what I got:
6lb 11oz of vegetables for $15. That comes out to about $2.24/lb. Being the bargain shopper that I am, when I made my weekly trip to Mariano’s, I did a price comparison between the local/organic CSA produce, and the supermarket cost for the same organic and conventional produce.
Based on my one and only time receiving a CSA produce box, I would conclude that if local and organic is important to you, it’s definitely worth the extra $1.41 to order the CSA versus buying at the grocery store. Another bonus is that you don’t have to spend time picking out your produce – it’s already been done for you! (Which could also be a problem for picky eaters or those with allergies. I, however, loved the element of surprise.) But for those not all gung-ho over organic, you’ll be spending nearly double that of what you’d be paying in the grocery store. And for myself, I wouldn’t personally have picked these exact items. I would have gone for that week’s sales, potentially making the difference in cost even greater.
I’m still mulling over what’s best for me. My health is important to me, but so is spending my money wisely. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try a produce CSA, but am not convinced it’s worth the extra dollars. If I do decide that putting money towards higher quality food is worth it, I think I’ll skip the veggies and go straight for the quarter cow. Now that’s a true commitment: $700 and a freezer full of meat!
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