Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.
Being a great big fat person, I mostly subsist on Doritos Locos Choco-Tacos—which, of course, are Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell battered in ganache and Ovaltine powder and then deep-fried, with whipped pan drippings and chicken skin on top. (Try them frozen in summer!) But once in a while, just for variety, I like to eat a vegetable.
My boyfriend and I are terrible at planning our grocery list more than one meal out—when we're at the store, we're buying stuff we're going to eat within the hour. Sometimes I'll be at the store buying ingredients for dinner, and I'll remember that we don't have anything for breakfast tomorrow, and I'll gaze wanly at the yogurt case, and then I'll just shrug and leave. And then I'll go BACK TO THE STORE IN THE MORNING LIKE A DODO. Everyone has their special talents. Ours lie elsewhere.
So I'm constantly looking for paths-of-least-resistance to get food into our house, hopefully cutting down on both inconvenient meal-to-meal shopping and bank-account-draining restaurant trips (don't worry, 'straunts, I still love you, boo). So far, my stock-the-fridge campaign consists of two key elements: yoinking my mom's Costco card to buy giant bags of rice and beans and quinoa, and my favorite thing—the best thing—our organic produce delivery.
Once a week, for $39.50, New Roots Organics delivers a giant treasure chest of fruits and vegetables to our doorstep (there are various options, depending on your size, price, and produce preferences). It's all organic and largely locally grown, and it costs much less for a week's worth of produce than what we used to spend on a single impulse-fueled shopping trip. Here's how New Roots describes their philosophy:
We are very particular about what goes in our bins each week and we have made it a point over the years to get to know the farms and (labels) that we buy from.
Our produce comes from Washington, Oregon, and California primarily. We always buy seasonally, so you will not find melons or corn for instance, in our bins in the winter.
Throughout the year we make it a priority to include locally grown produce 1st, and then when needed to make our bins balanced and complete, we include citrus, avocados, fresh greens and lettuces , etc. from California, and sometimes Mexico. We will always identify what is grown locally.
We procure our produce in 3 different ways, and not necessarily in this order: 1st, through two different wholesalers, one here in Washington, and one in Oregon, who both have networks of local farms that they buy produce from which in turns makes it possible for us to buy from, 2nd, through Small Farm Cooperatives & 3rd, direct from the grower.
Farm-shares and CSA boxes are nothing new, and I want to make it clear that I don't think ordering bins of semi-local organic beets because I'm too lazy to make shopping lists qualifies me as some uber-virtuous save-the-world locavore queen. The politics of food production and distribution are incredibly complex, inextricable from class and geography, and I'm lucky to even have the option to spend $40/week on fresh veggies.
Mainly I do this because 1) it's like Fruit-Christmas once a week, and 2) I EAT SO MANY MORE VEGETABLES THIS WAY. There are always vegetables within reach. There's always an apple. (Well, there are sometimes apples—the kids are freakish, insatiable fruit-monsters. They like apples more than macaroni and cheese. It's not normal.) It's a way of monitoring what I'm eating and coercing myself into cooking more at home, with almost no effort whatsoever. In conjunction with our vacuum sealer and our juicer, the weekly produce box is an unassailable life-embetterer.
Generally, our veggie-box consumption progresses in three stages.
Stage One: Good Day, M'Lady, I Crafted You This Magnificent Salad.
At the beginning of the week (on Fruit-Christmas), we use the produce elegantly and deliberately, like a painter's palette. We cook with purpose. Maybe I'll pick up a piece of halibut at the co-op in the morning, and then, just as I'm finishing my last post for the day, my boyfriend will waltz in and hand me some fucking ridiculous magic Narnia salad of delights. Um, I ACCEPT.
Stage Two: Uhhhhhh, Dump All the Stuff in a Thing!
Midway through the week, you begin to panic. Are you going to finish the whole box before the next box comes? Are you a failure? That's when you execute Stage Two. Grab everything cookable from the bin (usually the lettuce will be used up in Phase One anyway, so you're good) and chop it up. Zucchini, asparagus, onions, chard, kale, broccoli, whatever you like. Cube some bread. Beat some eggs. Grab some cheese if you want, or don't grab some cheese. Then, BREAKFAST CASSEROLE OF DOOM. Or regular casserole of doom, or stir-fry of doom, or vegetable curry of doom, or chili of doom, and so on. (What I mean by "doom" is that it's so good your house will fall down.)
Stage Three: JUICE IT. THE NEW BOX IS COMING TOMORROW. JUST JUICE IT ALL, GODDAMNIT.
If you find yourself on Fruit-Christmas Eve with a half-full box, there's only one way to catch up! I hope you like VASE OF JUICE. (I do.)
Sure, we do get behind sometimes (right now we're struggling with a build-up of about three weeks' worth of artichokes), but I've been surprised at how efficiently we've plowed through each bin. Plus, the system is flexible—I'm skipping next week's delivery because we're going to be out of town and I don't want ten pounds of zucchini moldering on the porch when I come home. It's easy.
To find out if there are veggie boxes available in your area (some deliver, some don't), google "CSA box" or "farm share." If they don't have one in your area, let me know and I will mail you a radish.*
*I am lying.
Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff.