Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthy Habits

Ok, so for those of you who don't know me and where I grew up, I'm from Salinas, California. It's been dubbed, "The salad bowl of the world" since we have a ridiculous amount of agriculture. You name it, odds are, we grow it. So as you can imagine, whenever I needed to shop for fruits and veggies, I always had an awesome selection of stuff considering, hey, it's all right there verses having to deal with shipments that've experienced long distance transports. 

See all the various farm fields? Yea. OODLES of them!

While in Belgium, I had the luxury of attending my towns Monday markets to get produce and some awesome cheeses and meats. Then if I felt like driving a little more, I'd go to Zolder for the Turkish market and get killer deals on everything that was scribbled down on my grocery list. Plus, they had UH-mazing Turkish food you would gorge yourself silly. Sigh..I miss that place.. 

Now that we're back in the States, I had to re-adjust when it came to doing my healthy shopping since there's a grocery store within a stones throw of one another. Some of them have great selection, while others make you wonder if the store forgot that fruit / vegetables rot after a while. From time to time, I'll pop into Whole Foods when I'm hunting for mangoes or something a little exotic...but I don't make a habit of going there because some of their things are a little unreasonable in terms of price. My main "go to" place here is Sprouts, which is kinda like a hybrid of Whole Foods and Trader Joes. They sell organic produce, have an awesome meat department, imported coffee and a slew of other goodies. 

Due to my busy work schedule as of late, I've had an exceptionally hard time getting over to Sprouts to get my weekly healthy goodies. Sure, I could make time to go there, but sometimes, I'm so exhausted from work...there's no way I'm gonna hop in the truck and make my way over there. You know how it is when you've punched out for the night and don't want to go anywhere. I ended up doing some research on local produce companies since I've heard about "harvest boxes" that you can get. They have a pre-selected assortment of various fruits and vegetables for a set price. After looking around, I managed to stumble across Skarsgard Farms based out of Albuquerque. They offer three different sized boxes, update their produce selection weekly AND they deliver it every Wednesday FOR FREE. You can also order eggs, pizza dough, salad dressings and pre-made bakery items if you're interested in having those tossed into your order. I think the best part is that they drop your delivery off in a cooler so the produce doesn't go bad while sitting on the porch. I tested out their services for about a month to see how good their stuff is. Some stuff I was impressed with while I was underwhelmed with others. On average, I pay about $30 for the produce, then there's a $20 deposit for the cooler. Not too shabby, but sometimes I feel like the produce isn't worth $30, especially when some of the fruit is very undersize or far from being ripe.

Then I heard about this thing called "Bountiful Baskets". It's a pretty cool set up for a co-op. You join, scroll through the list of cities that's participating, pick a basket for $15, add whatever extra offers they have listed aside from your basket, pay, then pick up the order from the designated pick up location in town. My only real gripe is that there's a limited amount of baskets available per city. So, you gotta be quick on the draw when it comes to the order window on their website. One minute your list will show up on the drop down bar, then it'll be gone the next. Once your city no longer shows up, that means they're not taking anymore orders. So, you kinda have to stalk the site in order to secure yourself a basket. When I picked up my stuff, I was VERY impressed with what I got:

The carrots were massive, I actually got some decent artichokes, an awesome sized pineapple and a slew of kale, spinach and other veggies. Pretty significant difference between the other company and this one. I mean, can you see the difference in quantity when it comes to the two different companies? I know I can. So, I'll try to see how it goes with the Bountiful Baskets veggies for a bit since I feel like it's a bit of a race to buy a basket. It's like a "snooze, you lose" scenario in a sense.

Oh, and something I'm looking forward to is when the local farmers markets start up. I've heard about them, but half the time, I completely brain fart to actually take the time to look them up. Well, low and behold! I finally remembered! After going through the site and reading up on their functions, I managed to figure out which ones I'd love to check out, and some that I'd try to visit once and a while since some of the locations are pretty far from the side of town I'm on. Either way, it's cool to know I have lots of options to choose from whether I get stuff from the grocery store,  cool veggie co-ops or invading some farmers markets. 

Which ever works out best, I'll still have healthy food in the house rather than all the junk food we used to fill the pantry :)