I can't wait for spring, and not because it's been below zero with the wind chill for the last couple of days. No, the reason I'm dreaming of warmer weather is much more gastronomical. We are (hopefully, if they aren't already full) going to buy an agricultural share this year for produce.
Last year the people who bought shares in the farm I'm buying into got lettuces, melons, veggies, and roots for 20 weeks, beginning in May. For the (extremely reasonable) price of around $200 - $250, we'll have locally grown organic produce, picked within hours of arriving at our table, all summer and fall. I'm absolutely drooling with the thought of having REAL tomatoes this year!
Additionally, I will get a chance to visit with the farmers (two women) who grow our food every week. In fact, if I want to I can take the kids to the farm just east of town, and we can help grow our own food. What a great way to teach them about food, farming, and the planet when they're a little older!
And when we get beets, radishes, or eggplants I'm going to find a way to cook them. This will increase the diversity of foods (and therefore nutrients) in our diets. It's easy to fall into the lettuce, carrot, celery, potato, onion, apple, banana, orange rut, you know? (It occurs to me that just buying those 8 things is likely more than most American families buy, in terms of fresh produce. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a grocery cart full of packaged, processed foods at the store, and wondered if they just skipped the produce section!)
I'm supporting the local economy. I'm not paying the middle man to truck our food 1000 miles from where it's grown to here. I'm feeding my family the best possible food I can find for us, short of growing it myself (which I am singularly unqualified to do - I can't even grow a house plant!). And I'm getting a hell of a deal - I spend WAY more than $10 a week on produce.
Now is the time to find amazing programs like this in your area. Here are some resources:
10 Reasons to Eat Local Food
Food Routs - Buy Local
Slow Food USA
And make sure you mooch at least one meal from me this summer. I guarantee, it's going to be worth it!