It isn't easy being green - especially when you're urban and love Thai take out. But I'm sure gonna try.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Have no Microwave ... and Other Confessions From the Green Edge, Part 1

It's been a while since I've written, I know. I finished revisions upon revisions upon revisions of my novel last week, and I completely lost track of time. I would be lying though if I said that I hadn't been thinking about the blog. As daily news stories came in about the horrifying events in Japan, I struggled trying to think about what I wanted to say. The earthquake and tsunami were horrendous, but the nuclear plant melt-down just about did my green brain in.

When I was in elementary school, I sneaked out of bed to watch the made for TV movie "The Day After" with my babysitter. My mother had warned me not to watch it, saying the story was going to upset and scare me. This, of course, just made me want to watch it more. I've never regretted not following my mother's advice as much as I did that night. The images of a post-apocalyptic, post-nuclear war America were horrifying.

I've never really understood why countries remain focused on nuclear power. To me it's like saying: We're going to take the sun (which is way more powerful than any human being), and we're going to store it in a building and try to control its power by keeping the room cold. Of course, being human, we're prone to mistakes. But they'll only happen from time to time, right? And if we do make a mistake, just a few hundred thousand people will get fried. But hey, we've got the power of the sun.

It's just like our species to have that much hubris ...

Unfortunately, nuclear power plants are completely out of my control. When we left New York City I refused to even consider living in certain suburban towns because of their proximity to Indian Point. So now I live somewhere else ... just as close to a nuclear plant. I tell myself New England power plants are less interesting to terrorists. And for the most part, nowadays, when I think about all these dangers...I just close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears. La la la la.

So since I can't control what goes on outside my home, I have done everything in my power to control what goes on inside.

Here are my wave-free living confessions:

1) I have no microwave
2) I have no Wifi
3) I rarely use my cell phone
4) I am in the process of getting rid of all my portable phones.

In my next blog entry, I'll get into all the reasons why I've made these choices. But for now, what you need to know is that we get along just fine without 'em. And I need to sing la la las a whole lot less.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

For Your Consideration: Join a CSA

It's hard to believe, but while snow still lies on the ground of our Northern East Coast towns, nearby farmers have already begun planting their seeds for this year's crops. As part of this planting process, many of these farmers are now taking deposits for this summer's CSAs, or crop share associations.

When a friend first suggested I try a CSA I cringed at the thought. I mean who wants a huge box full of cabbage ... or worse, Kale, each week? That's how I thought it worked. When cabbage is in season, you get a box of cabbage. And you need to drive maybe thirty minutes to pick up a box full of produce that you don't even want to eat! Right?

Not quite.

Crop share boxes provide a wide range of fruits and vegetables that are in season. So while you may get Kale for three weeks in a row, you might also get fresh melon, strawberries and blueberries. I was wrong about the size, too. You don't have to buy a HUGE box, you can buy a half share, which offers plenty of vegetables for two adults and two kids. Many farms offer convenient urban pick-up locations once a week, and some are even beginning to deliver.

The idea behind a CSA is simple. You give the farm cash - in advance - for crops and this money supplements the farmer between planting and harvest. In exchange, you receive a share of the bounty.

I've never crunched the numbers on cost efficiency, but if you eat all the produce, it's probably pretty comparable. I believe that a CSA membership is about more than the bottom line, though. My family is getting to know our local farmers. We talk about our role in the farm's success and in the benefits of eating fresh. We find ourselves trying new foods and recipes. We never knew, for example, that radishes are fabulous roasted or that you can make tasty chips out of Kale.

Joining a crop share is about more than just fresh produce. It's about teaching your kids reverence for the earth and an understanding that we are all connected to this planet. If we treat our soil well, it will repay us with goods. It's also about the community you forge with your local farmers. Our first year the rain was so bad that entire tomato crops were demolished around the state. Our CSA members rallied around our farmer. In the past, I might have griped about the steep price of tomatoes at the grocery store, but now I was concerned about my farmer friends.

There are many different kinds of CSAs, too: organic, conscientious and conventional, and all will have varying prices. In our city you can join CSAs that provide eggs, meat, fish, flowers and produce. Some offer mixtures of all of the above.

So consider poking around the web to see if you can find more information about your local crop share options. It isn't always perfect, but that's the reality of farming. And when I have a week where the thought of one more bag of greens turns my stomach, I chop and freeze 'em for a lasagna or soup later on and remind myself that next week's box brings with it the promise of new eating adventures.