I’m a house-husband.
Besides being the in-house IT support guy for my wife, I’m also responsible for feeding her, me, and our two greyhounds. I figure out the weekly menu, shop for food, and cook. My wife likes this. I like this. My greyhounds haven’t expressed an opinion.
In the process, I’ve discovered I’m a closet foodie.
When we moved to Grand Rapids last summer, I was in hog heaven. I could indulge in local craft beers, farmers’ stands along the roads, the Fulton Street Market, family grocery stores, and so on. We joined the Blandford Nature Center because we live across the road from it. One of the benefits was “Access to our CSA shares.”
We kinda knew what a CSA was. Our interpretation – Community Supported Agriculture: everybody kicks in some money, somebody does the farming, and we divvy up the spoils at harvest. Right? Ok, maybe we don’t really know. Still, the benefit intrigued us.
Shopping at the Fulton Street Market, I checked out Blandford’s booth. The produce looked good. I spoke with Aaron (I think) about how much produce one gets each week. He pulled out a square basket you might often see bakery trucks use to hold loaves of bread. The basket was full of veggies. I think my eyes bulged and I whistled.
That’s a bit much for 2 people.
Aaron reassured me there’s a half-share available that’s not as overwhelming. I decided we should try this. But why? I mean, I can buy all the local produce I need from the vendors at the Fulton Street Market or road-side farm stands. Why make the commitment and go through the extra hassle? Guess it’s the foodie in me. More and more I want to know: what’s in my food? Where did it come from? is it safe? And (occasionally) am I a good steward of the planet?
When we lived in Dallas, it was very difficult to get answers to those questions. Often the produce guys at Whole Foods were less knowledgeable than the information placards next to the displays. (In all fairness, the Whole Foods meat and seafood folks knew their stuff.) We started to have some success in the last few years when a “farmers market” opened about a mile from our house. It was great to be able to ask Chuck, the store manager, “are these Freestone Peaches?” or “what’s the story about those big bulb onions I like?” (And to your unasked question, “You’re from Texas? You do know we have winter here!” Fear not. I hail from Northwest Ohio and my wife is a Yooper. We lived through the Blizzard of ’78.)
So, with the new year came an email to Blandford members basically saying, “wanna buy a share in the CSA?” My checkbook came out that very day. And now, I’m asking myself the question, “what the hell did I get myself into?”
Join me as I navigate this project during the coming season. Hopefully, you’ll learn from my experiences (i.e., goof-ups). I have a few questions to answer for myself that may be of interest to you:
- What do I do with all this stuff?
- What’s the weekly ritual like?
- What am I trying now that I never did before?
- How is the CSA changing my eating habits?
- How much (or little) am I being a part of that “C” in CSA?
- What have I learned from the CSA to make me a better food consumer?
I invite you to check back in about a month to see where I’m at on my foodie adventure. Please leave me any tips you might have for a newbie in the comments below.
About the author:
Dave Gillen didn’t want to eat hotdogs for the rest of his life, so he learned to cook. His mother taught him to boil water, scramble eggs, and make oatmeal cookies. Dave forgot how to make the cookies, barely remembered how to scramble eggs, but is spot on at boiling water. Currently, he divides his days between being wife Lois’ in-house techno geek and personal chef…and walking his greyhounds.