Ohio Farm Share Experiment ends with New Beginning!
I can’t believe we’re already in our final week of our Ohio Farm Share Experiment that began 22 weeks ago in June, 2015. I have some exciting news about what’s next so keep reading!
This week we’re astounded by the HUGE Broccoli head we received in our Farm Share. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a vegetable so huge or so beautiful in my life! I had to take a picture of it all by itself so you could experience how big that thing really is. That’s a tablespoon to help you visualize the size. It might have fit in a large mixing bowl after we removed the leaves. Amazing!
Unfortunately, it took us all season to realize that broccoli leaves are edible (thanks to Mel’s resourceful research). So, although we haven’t saved any to try this year so far, it’s something we’ll know for the next time we get one this beautiful!
This week our small Vegetarian farm share included (top featured photo)…
Broccoli – 1 enormous head
Butternut Squash – 2 small – actually the size I prefer for easier handling when cutting.
Beets – 1 small bunch of Orange
Red Leaf Lettuce – 1 perfect head
Eggplant – 2
Red Cabbage – 1 small head
Apples – quarter peck – total of 5 large
Flat Rock Cheese – 1 piece (like Gruyere)
Added 2 dozen eggs – 1 doz. for each family
My half of the Vegetarian small share this week (above photo) and what’s left since Thursday, October 30…
Broccoli – 1/2 enormous head
Butternut Squash – 1
Beets – 1 small bunch of Orange went to my parents because my mom loves, loves them
Red Leaf Lettuce – 1/2 perfect head – looks like Red Sail, my favorite!
Eggplant – 1 – I’m going to learn to love this vegetable, yet!
Red Cabbage – 1/2 small head – I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this. I love it in salads so that may be where it will go.
Apples – total of 2 large
Flat Rock Cheese – 1/2 piece (like Gruyere) – it’s fun trying cheeses I’ve never tasted before.
Added 1 dozen eggs
Plus, on a shopping trip with Mel to our favorite fresh markets, I added a few more vegetables while I can get them locally grown and at excellent prices. Such as the pound of Green Beans that were only 90 cents. How can I resist that? They’ll go in the freezer. We got a nice sized bag of orange bell peppers that were just going past their prime for $1.99. Those will get frozen as well.
These are the extras I added to our already full refrigerator this week…
Bag full of Orange Peppers that I shared with mom
Chunks of Cheese for munching to spoil Mr. Carnivore
Broccoli – several small heads (bought on sale before I saw the huge one in our share!)
2 Red Peppers – also sale priced 2 for $1
Boston lettuce – love this sweet small lettuce
Carrots – these were beautiful with greens attached. I love fresh carrots in soups, but I also find these much more tender for salads as well.
English Cukes – some tiny cukes for snacking
Kale – I got an enormous bunch of curly for 79 cents so I shared it with Mel. I’ve become addicted to Kale but couldn’t fit all of it in the fridge!
Potatoes – 3 average sized baking potatoes that I’ll use in soups. I don’t buy bags of potatoes because I like to hand select them and I don’t have the room or need for even a 5 lb bag.
I also grabbed some fresh herbs for soups: Rosemary, Baby Dill, Thyme. I really want to try making a creamy Parsnip and Celeriac soup and the Baby Dill looked like the perfect accompaniment. I’m so glad I picked that up because we also love dill with Green Beans, as well as Broccoli or Cucumbers, so it will get used daily. And finally, I was tempted by some Olive Bread made by my favorite bread baker, Sarah Jane’s in Munroe Falls, Ohio. Their Onion Dill bread is also to die for!
I think I spent a total of $24.00 for all the extras and $6.00 for 2 dozen eggs, so it proves my point that eating fresh is not only good for you but also affordable.
Instead of this week’s results, I’m concluding this 22 week experiment with our overall results and impressions of being part of a Farm Share.
What I noticed most is that we feel healthier and we’ve both lost weight. Not a lot of weight but it was effortless and not something we tried to do through exercise. We both take B and D vitamins to ensure we have enough, but no other supplements or medications.
Both our freezers are full and we’re stocked for winter. We’re stocked up because we are more aware of what to buy in-season to save money overall. As a gardener I thought I was pretty savvy, but I’ve learned so much this year about vegetables I’ve never grown so that I’ve become a more informed buyer.
We spend less time and less money at the grocery. We haven’t weaned ourselves off all processed foods completely, but it’s down to such a small percentage that I actually have to think about what it is that we do buy that’s processed or contains preservatives. We still eat store-bought cereal most of the year. That hasn’t changed. We both drink hot tea but a lot is herbal and caffeine free. I drink water more than anything else. Once in a while we’ll both still have a glass of soda but that’s rare. I think I had a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke in the spare refrigerator for a month before it was completely gone and yes, it held its fizz. I’m down to one cup of coffee a day and I do so love my Keurig Mini. We buy bottled salad dressing but it’s fat-free. I’d rather use fat in my cooking since I’m allowed such a low amount daily. This is one area where I’d like to experiment this coming year with my own salad dressings to cut preservatives and sodium.
We did buy bread with preservative about half the time this summer. We’ll get back to buying preservative free bread during the winter. It gets moldy too easily in the summer and we end up with too much waste. I’d like to get back to baking my own bread, so that’s another project for the winter.
We still buy meat and poultry, but we’re more selective and use considerably less. Meat and poultry have become a “seasoning” for our meals, more than the main ingredient. At first, this was a conscious effort to cut costs and fat, but now it has become a preference. We still use canned beans to add protein but we get so many dry beans through the Farm Share that we’ll use less canned this winter. I have more time in the winter to make batches of beans to freeze so that’s a project I want to work on. I doubt I’ll do that in the summer, but we don’t eat as many beans in the summer as in the winter.
I’m guessing that 1/4 to 1/3 of our dinners are meatless. We do eat pasta or rice at least once or twice a week, so those meals are usually meatless or have very little meat used just for flavor. We reintroduced eggs into our diet more consistently than in the past. I really love the taste of the pasture grazed eggs and they’re smaller in size so we don’t eat as much when we do have them.
We’ve varied our breakfasts to include fruit and not just bananas every day. Mr. Carnivore has changed the most in this area. He was the cake eater for breakfast and he’s really worked hard at moving to a more nutritious breakfast with my encouragement. He has actually helped me be more adventurous for breakfast, by taking charge and making us omelets or breakfast sandwiches with his handy new gadget. (Gadget review coming soon!)
I think what I buy mostly are condiments or sauces or herbs to add to what I’m cooking. Or snacks. We did go back to making popcorn as a snack for a while, so we need to get back to that instead of buying corn chips or pretzels. I was buying a lot of organic stock but I’d like to work on making my own this winter. Since I’ve been using less purchased stock or concentrating on Salt-Free stock, I really notice how salty the stock is that I used to use all the time. It’s surprising how quickly you can get used to using less salt. We both notice how salty processed food tastes now that we rely on fresh more for meals.
I still have waste and have to throw away vegetables or fruit that have gone past their prime, but it’s less than in the past because I’m making a conscious effort to eat what we have or freeze it. Our waste comes mostly from pure laziness or buying vegetables I want that didn’t come in the farm share. I can’t seem to resist beautiful produce and always have good intentions, but I’m human and still mess up. It has been a real learning curve as to the timing of how fast everything has to be used. All fresh fruit and vegetables are not created equal in longevity and that’s something I’m still learning.
From my experience, if you take on new tasks gradually over several weeks then you can make them a habit. The prep time for fresh does get faster and easier with time, to a point where I don’t even notice the time it takes unless I’m making a huge pot of soup. That does frustrate me, sometimes, but I still haven’t started using my food processor, preferring the therapeutic cutting of vegetables by hand instead.
In the end, it’s well worth the time it takes to put money back into Ohio’s farms. It feels pretty awesome to be part of a collaborative that focuses on local businesses who need our support. We’re not the only ones that benefit from such an awesome group of people and I think that’s pretty special.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT…
Our exciting news is that we’ll be part of a pilot program for a Winter Farm share that’s Vegetarian with Fresh Fork Market. We were going to join the Winter Share as Omnivores (includes meat), which is the only program available in the winter, but when the chance came up to join this limited pilot program to test it, we couldn’t resist.
So, for the first three weeks in November, I’ll be posting about what we received in the Winter Vegetarian Share Pilot Program. Then, after Thanksgiving, I’ll be posting every other week for a total of 15 weeks in the Winter Share program. Our every other week Winter Share will be slightly larger than our weekly Summer Share, but picking up a share every other week will give us more flexibility for recipe creation.
I hope you’re as excited as we are about this new adventure. I never thought I’d make it 22 weeks posting about food we received, ate and processed, but here I am looking forward to another few months until the Winter Share is over the week of May 7th, 2016! That will make it a full year of Farm Share Experiment!