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I've wanted to try a subscription to Community Supported Agriculture since I learned about them a few years ago. There were a few that delivered in or near Takoma Park, but it was never convenient enough for me to jump in. This year there's one run by members of our church, with Sunday delivery right at church--that's hard to beat for convenience.

Since most meals I cook are for the 1.5 appetites that are V's and mine (mine being 1.2 of those), I was happy to split a share with someone else. This will also come in handy for weeks I will not be in town, several of which loom before me this July. But this week was our first delivery and my partner was the one out of town, so I brought the whole passel home myself.

And told Brian. And he objected on the grounds that it was very, very expensive food. This is not correct; it is not cheap food, but it is local and fresh and I don't think it deserves the "very, very". One share costs $615 for the season (roughly April to October) and Brian--with a straight face--argued that that amount would feed a family of four for a year. I gave him a chance to retract this ludicrous claim, but he insisted that he was serious. He also strongly suggested that I keep track of what I bring home each week, which seems like a pretty good idea to me. Here we go:

spinach, about 1.5 pounds
salad greens, about 2 pounds
asparagus, about 2.5 pounds
one dozen eggs

I went shopping before I knew about the delivery and I got a little chard crazy, so this has been a greens-heavy week. I thought it would be hard to mesh my new six-meals-a-day plan with Brian's return but so far everything has worked out fine. I think, however, I should plan my meal weeks Monday through Sunday rather than Saturday through Friday the way I had been. Ideally, I should have Mr. $12-per-week do the shopping.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
Let him do the shopping and you'll eat nothing but lentils just so he can proove his point.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Even so, his numbers wouldn't work. Say the family of four had two adults and two kids and required 6,000 calories per day. A pound of lentils falls slightly short of 1,000 calories but we'll use that figure for now. Even if you could get lentils two pounds for a dollar (the best I've ever done), your twelve dollars will only buy 24,000 calories: four days' worth. There's also the scurvy thing to think about. He's so wrong it's funny. A little funny.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Coincidentally, we had lentils and chard soup yesterday. It was pretty good, but I liked it better with hot sauce.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 09:17 am (UTC)
So of course I cannot find vvalkyri's posts about the $21 a week food experiment, nor my post about my thought experiment followup...

Brief summary: $21 a week represents what food stamps/federal assist programs believe you can survive on. Congress critters supporting an increase in that amount attempt to live on it themselves. Hilarity ensues as congress critters are sufficiently silver-spooned that even though they have some sense "I thought peanut butter was economical", they end up shopping at _the stores they know_ buying boutique organic peanut butter at $10 a jar and artisan bread at $5 a loaf.

I didn't actually try it, but did go over grocery receipts from the period I wasn't working in 2005 (and hence was economizing, and not eating out much). I concluded that you could maybe barely do it, *on average*, by buying in bulk at warehouse stores and stretching that over many weeks, but not very likely if you had to budget it at a literal $21 a week (first strike is needing $40 upfront cost to get the membership in the warehouse store).
Apr. 22nd, 2010 11:54 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, and transportation is important, too, in that scenario.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
I'll try to look for the links, but no, the congress critters did not buy $10 peanut butter nor $5 bread. I'm pretty sad to hear you remember it that way. Also Costco is $50 to join and only a few are near public transit. Plus good luck with getting stuff home. Moreover, the really best way to stretch the money requires a lot of cooking and nutrition knowledge.

Marvelous wonderful gmail search finds me a post by thirdbase: http://thirdbase.livejournal.com/287084.html

Aaand apparently I posted about it a full 3 weeks after thirdbase, including the congressguy's blog of his attempt: http://vvalkyri.livejournal.com/747165.html

If I recall, there was a lot of good advice in the comments to the blog, if it's still up.

Also remember: food prices have gone up markedly since this time in 2007.

Aiee. Need to run. 25 min til absolute last minute to get to work.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
I admit don't remember the blogs much.

What stuck in my memory was the newspaper writeup, which left me with the impression they were not being very smart about what they were buying or where they bought it.
(Perhaps attributable to intentional newspaper slant).
The newspaper interviewed several guys doing it, the blog above he seems more sensible than I recall. The others were going places like Whole Foods and MOM.

I do remember someone in that article saying they almost ran out of money early in the week, and tried to correct and stretch out the remainder by buying peanut butter and bread, but that only lasted a couple of days. If peanut butter only lasts a couple of days then you've bought one of those tiny (and per pound) very expensive jars. If you bought it at a fancy store, it's probably not Peter Pan either.

Corrected URL [1] for my writeup:

As I noted, in my write up, you can maybe get by that cheaply *if* you're already affluent enough that you don't have to. (I just renewed BJs last week they're only $40 for a renewal, I don't remember a extra new member fee, but still 2 weeks budget up front.) And the single biggest expense is *time*.

[1] I put it on my web site, no wonder I couldn't find a LJ entry for it.
Apr. 23rd, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
Well Ryan /wasn't/ being smart about it, and may well have bought a smaller thing of peanut butter as what he could fit in teh $21. The Safeway had been what could be gotten to in downtown DC, and BJs doesn't take (or didn't in '07) food stamps anyway

One of the things that came up multiple times in comments was that many people on food stamps have neither the time nor the knowledge to stretch that money in smart and nutritious ways.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)

edit: found Tim Ryan's blog http://timryan.ning.com/profiles/blogs/day-1-of-the-food-stamp

(sadly, it's a copy forward - none of the comments are there)

edit again: AHA! googling Tim Ryan and Cornmeal got me the original blog, complete with comments

Edited at 2010-04-22 02:01 pm (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
Do you like quiche or Bisquick (or Trader Joe's Baking Mix) concoctions?

I would love to read more about your CSA experience. I have thought about trying a CSA. My husband is also very skeptical of the high price and the uncertainty that we would be able to use everything before it goes bad. Fortunately, we live near Spicknall's roadside market on Old Gunpowder Rd. He doesn't mind if I buy all our fruits and veggies there.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
I don't do much with baking mixes but I LOVE Spicknall's. They were the first store ever to sell me a honeycrisp apple, therefore earning themselves a special place in my heart. And I think AGNR's own Mark Spicknall is associated with it somehow.
Apr. 26th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
Coming to this late, but we did CSA locally a couple years ago. It was more expensive than it was worth, I think -- we didn't eat all of the vegetables (especially the 5 and 7 year old boys), and there were a lot of greens. We don't like cooked greens, and it was hard to have that many salads. Other than that, the veggies were great. Obviously, it's going to vary depending on the actual rate, what you get, and how much you eat. It's probably more cost effective (or at least easier) than going to buy organic vegetables at various places.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )