The problem with produce

Rob’s not a huge fan of most fruits and vegetables, so he was keen on using a juicer for a rapid infusion of nutrients. We borrowed one from his parents and enjoyed a week of concoctions that were mostly quite tasty. But the Jack LaLanne juicer is a bitch to clean and for every two glasses of juice, we had a big container of pulp left over. It seemed wasteful to me and inferior to eating the foods whole. After all, I enjoy most fruits and vegetables (cauliflower and celery are the only ones I actively dislike), and when you drink your veggies, you miss out on the fiber so you don’t feel as full. Our daily juices weren’t meal replacements; I actually felt hungrier after a glass of juice.

Then there’s the price. I have tree-hugger guilt about buying non-local produce, but our farmers markets are so expensive. Last weekend, I was supposed to buy fruit for a barbecue. I circled the stalls at the Saturday market several times to talk myself out of driving to the nearest chain grocery store to buy a pre-packaged plastic container of pineapple, mango and kiwis grown elsewhere. I forked over $13 for strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Meanwhile, Rob bought a couple of pre-packaged veggie trays at Costco. Only one got eaten, so on Monday, we juiced the leftover berries and $10 of broccoli and carrots from the veggie tray, yielding just two glasses of juice. Not a great value.

It’s just so hard to eat healthy and locally sometimes. I suffer from paralysis at the grocery store. I don’t know what to buy! I don’t want Ecuadorian bananas or Argentinian pears, I think I’ll buy some processed veggie burgers instead. That’s better for the earth, right?

For years, I’ve been eating a lot of my lunches at the Skagit Valley Co-op deli. Last winter, shortly after I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I noticed how clearly the co-op produce department labeled the origins of its goods, and for months, I was the proud consumer of Washington pears, squash and kale. Surprisingly, the food co-op carries imported produce too, but at least the country or state of origin is labeled clearly, unlike chain stores that tell you only that your food was grown somewhere in the U.S.A.

Today after I picked up my co-op deli lunch, I went to the produce section to select peaches, an avocado and a tomato from California (close enough); kale and spinach from this very county, and green beans from somewhere in this state. I plan to eat all of these items whole. The avocado and tomato are going on that veggie burger and processed white bun from Costco. What? They’re left over from the barbecue.

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