Friday, January 11, 2013

In Which I Become an Arugula Thief

Once upon a time, there was a man and a wife who lived happily in a small village. The woman became pregnant and the two were overjoyed. As the baby grew inside her, the woman often found herself staring over the wall into the garden next door, tended by a witch. The woman could see leafy plants growing and more than anything, longed for some kale. So she asked her husband to climb over the wall and steal some for her to eat. Because he loved his wife very much, he climbed over the wall and picked some kale. But as he was about to climb back over, he was caught by the witch who let him go, only with the promise to give her the baby when it was born. 

This is what I remember from the beginning of the fairy tale Rapunzel. I did not refresh my memory or look up the details before writing this, but suffice to say, what stuck with me from childhood is the kale. I didn't know what kale was. I still have only eaten kale a handful of times. Why would anyone, pregnant cravings or no, climb over the wall of a witch's garden to steal kale??

I think now I understand.

Rob and I have been discussing the balance between healthy eating and budget shopping. It's possible to do both, but difficult. It takes planning and know-how. Intention and searching around. The junk food on the center aisles of grocery stores can totally blow up your grocery budget, but so can organic produce or grass-fed beef.

For a lovely place in the middle of budget and health, we found Rawfully Organic. Bear in mind that this is our first time trying the local Houston co-op, but so far we are ecstatic. I don't have to steal kale from the witch and trade her the life of my child! And I'm way more into arugula, anyway. In fact, one might say that arugula and I need to get a room.

Friends have been telling me about the site (thanks, Natalie & Kelly!) for a while, but I was hesitant to spend almost $50 for a half-box of produce. How much was in a half-box? Was it more than we would eat before it went bad? Was it too little for that price? How much do I spend on produce anyway? This week I took the plunge to answer the questions for myself.

We bought a half-share, the large box pictured below, for $48. Though you see mostly green when you look at the box, tons of fruits are underneath. I paid online and went to the Thursday pick-up (there are several locations) just a few miles from my house. I committed a few faux pas, being a newbie (like cutting in line accidentally), but they were more than gracious to help me figure out what to do, and a very nice young man carried my box to my car.

If you love fruits, you can purchase a whole fruit box (seen below) and there are also items you can buy from a sort of pick-and-mix produce section. The shares are better-priced than those assorted items, but then again, you're paying for local, organic produce.

For a half-share, you also get three points and can choose items from another table. This handy-dandy whiteboard shows what you can choose for how many points. We got two red onions and a bunch of spinach--my favorite superfood. I was tempted by the eggplant, but was trying to think of my family's needs, since I'll eat a whole eggplant by myself.

It is a ton of food! I had cleaned out the fridge and didn't buy any produce this week, but I still don't have enough room in my drawers. I had the best salad of my life tonight with no dressing--only juice from one of the organic lemons. Did I mention arugula? I've had it before in salad mixes, but never just eaten it from a bunch. I have eaten probably half the bunch by myself today. Clearly, baby needs some vitamin K.

I did not do a cost analysis for what this box would have cost at Kroger, even to buy non-organic, but suffice to say: I think it's a great deal. We got a bunch of bananas, a half-dozen apples, a half-dozen oranges, lemons, pears, grapefruit, tomatoes, red onions, spinach, celery, kale, romaine, arugula, zucchini, cucumber, and probably four more types of greens. I don't even know what all the greens are, but I've been nibbling on them and am seeing visions of salads for days to come.

For our family, $50 is a lot for one week's worth of produce. But hopefully it will last through two weeks (it seems like enough to last that long, especially in the fruit category), in which case it will be a fantastic deal. If you are in the Houston area, consider trying Rawfully Organic for yourself. Let me know how it worked for your family! I love that we are eating healthy foods and supporting locally-grown, organic produce. If we can make the box stretch to fit our budget, then it will have a full stamp of approval.



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