Saturday, January 15, 2011

Making Vital Choices

salmon sausage over sunflower sprouts with mustard & flax.
at 8:30 this morning i was in a cab on my way to brooklyn to pick up real food from my csa (community supported agriculture). we pay a yearly membership fee, we pay for the product we order online and then an extra delivery fee since the goods are being delivered from farms who are dedicated to preserving time-honored, traditional food preparation and culture from days gone by.  i usually order once a week and pick up is done by my husband, after work.  this week, however, we fell short on some staples and the next pick up would not be till thursday of next week.  that is why i was in a cab, on my way to brooklyn at 8:30am.  we need real food!

alaskan halibut slow cooked in a raw lemon butter bath. 
today my order consisted of milk (for the entire family), kefir for me (even though i make my own at home i like to purchase some now and again for quality control on my own product), mozzarella (for the kids), lacto-fermented pickles (for hubby and kids), cured ham steak (for family brekkie), dried mint leaves (for tea for me and syl), and a loaf of traditionally prepared whole speltz bread for all.  The food bill was $50, the cab $17 (i was tired this morning, give me a break, okay?).  the train back to manhattan was $2.25 which took me to union square where i then picked up my usual saturday stuff. back on the bus and off to abingdon square where i sniffed out my moo fix, cukes, a few turnips and finally home at 11am. a full two and a half hours of traveling, schlepping and spending for what? 

100 years ago the average family spent approximately 50% of their annual salary on food and at least 3 hours preparing food/meals in the home.  today according to various studies and surveys i am seeing on the ole' interweb, the average american spends just under 15% of their annual income on food and just 30 minutes a day preparing food/meals - which could mean popping it in the microwave, heating, thawing, opening a can, unwrapping the take away paper -- you get my drift.  this is my point. we are spending less money and time on our food and our feeding choices and as a nation we have never been more sick, fat and confused.  our children have no real food education or feeding survival skills. most children think food comes out of packages or grows in supermarkets.  we have a choice. a vital choice.

vital choices are what we make everyday.  my vital choices usually concern the health and wellness of my family which will invariably lead back to food, nutrition and a commitment to education in both of these areas.  some people say that buying organic or sustainable is too expensive.  it's not. i want you to really compare. do the cost analysis. a pound of good grass fed beef is cheaper than a mcdonald's happy meal and you will save a bundle on medical bills down the road.  what we put into our bodies pays dividends over time and who doesn't like a good investment. not only for us but for our children. feeding our children this way is a way of insuring that they will grow up healthy and happy and raise healthier and happier children than we could have ever been.  feeding ourselves and our families this way is a vital choice of respect.

alaskan sockeye salmon jerky just out of the dehydrator.
another vital choice i make is the use of my time. some say time is money and fast is better. they order from services like fresh direct and think this gives them more quality time with the kids or more time to get really "important" things done.  to me this is just missing another important opportunity to put your hands on your life and take stock. feel the richness of what you are building.  i enjoy shopping and hand selecting what my family will enjoy.  i also love to take my children with me to help pick things out.  it helps me learn, in-depth about who my kids are and what they are thinking. i get to witness their becoming. in our adventures they develop relationships with farmers, checkout people, bus drivers, other commuters on the train, etc and this is super important for learning (theirs and mine).  one of the things i detest about "schooling" is that children are segregated into groups of people their own age. not much real learning going on there. getting children involved so that they are interacting with people from all ages and different places is paramount to real learning. i especially like when my almost 6 year old daughter wants to take the bus because she loves talking to old people.  we often take home the phone number of some 70 year old (usually woman) who my kids wind up calling grandma by the time we exit the bus. children are social and curious. they need to explore everything. nyc is a grand opportunity.

time is another factor when preparing food. a low heat, all day braise means you can save money by using cheaper cuts of flavorful meats. you can make your own yogurt for the fraction of what it costs to buy yogurt and you can ferment fruits and vegetables that will aid in the digestion of your food. making sauerkraut is just on example, making your own kombucha is another.  in the store kombucha costs $4 for 16 oz. our homemade 16oz. costs less than $1. we make all these things at home to save money, enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits, control the quality and teach our children that production of food is something that can happen in the home and that you have that ability to make that vital choice to do it on your own, be self reliant and not be at the mercy of the government.  our food supply is tainted. toxic fertilizers, soil depletion and GMOs are just a few of the reasons why we need to make vital choices.

speaking of vital choices.  this year when my family received a xmas gift of cash we decided to put that bonus into our bodies by ordering wild sockeye salmon, halibut and salmon breakfast sausage (not just for breakfast)  from vital choice seafood.  their product is pure, wild and delicious.  we stocked the freezer and enjoy these omega 3 rich foods whenever we want. it's expensive but worth every penny.  i recommend it highly as a gift to yourself or to your loved ones.  nothing says i love you like good food and nourishment.  it satisfies the belly and the soul. 

henry with his side of sockeye salmon.
is it convenient to trek out to brooklyn at 8:30 in the morning to pick up real food?  is it fun to schlep on buses and trains in the freezing cold and snow with two little kids? do i like spending close to 40% of my annual income on food? you bet i do. i love the inconvenience, the schlep, the cold, the snow (sometimes) and the kids running amok at the market touching and tasting everything in sight.  because at the end of the day it's my choice and i know exactly why i am doing it. it's empowering and i hope you might someday learn to love it too.  


  1. i love you- and i love this blog. inspiring.
    a big AMEN in every sense of the word to you, emily. and yeah to spending more time in the kitchen...other than lost in the middle of the ocean or ambling thru the woods, it is where i feel most at peace in myself. xooxoxoxo

    ps- and i was TOTALLY wondering "sheesh- how much does a cab to brooklyn cost these days?" - and so was DELIGHTED when you told me! I think $17 is a bargain- honestly- i figured it to be at least $30. xo

  2. i really do want to make my own yogurt, but have no clue how to start...would love it if u'd share that :-)

  3. I just found your blog. I love this post! Love, love, love it!

  4. I just found your blog and really like what I see. I used to live in Alaska, and stock my freezer with salmon, but last year I moved to the southeast.
    If you want to buy salmon from an alaska without the premium, then check out 10th & M Seafood, a local Alaskan owned company. They are based in Anchorage Alaska. When I moved down here I had them store and ship my salmon while my deep freeze was on a truck headed to GA. When I dropped it off I didn't even have an address to ship it to. I called them and gave them my address when I got one, and for less than 1/5 of the fedex 2nd day rate they overnighted it to me. They buy from the local catch. Their rates compare well with anywhere and the products they sell are the best. I still have family who lives there and can ship salmon to me, but if I didn't I would use 10th & M. As an Alaskan I hate to see the money from an alaskan resource go to an out of state company. Thanks and keep up the great post.