Ready or Not #252: Planning Ahead

I read an article today talking about eating fresh fruits and vegetables and the different ways that you could acquire them – and what you could do with them once you had them.  Their first suggestion was to go to the grocery store.  Since the article was about eating healthy, they suggested that the best and healthiest way to shop in a grocery store was to shop on the outside aisles of the store.  They were right; that is a really good suggestion.  Most of the unhealthier and processed foods are placed on the end caps and the center aisles.  The healthiest, least processed foods tend to be on the aisles closest to the outside walls.  I don’t know why; it’s a marketing thing.

Spending your food dollars on fruits and vegetables is very wise.  Now that I have said that, I don’t think that always means that the best option is to buy ‘fresh’ produce.  For myself, I am really sold on the frozen vegetables and many of the fruits.  They are high quality and they don’t spoil.  They are also already washed and cut up to use; anything to make life easier.

Now, if you want the best fruits and vegetables, then you can’t do any better or get any fresher than if you grow them yourself.  I would like a garden and I do know how to grow a garden, but it isn’t going to happen this year.  My son has prepared the garden, but it will be up to him if we have one.  It is so very important that you have a working knowledge of how to grow your own fruit and vegetables, even if it is in containers (for you apartment dwellers).  Please learn how to effectively store fresh seeds and if you don’t know how to grow a garden then get a book so that you can effectively grow your own food when necessary.  You can start small, but start.

But if you have to take a year or two off from gardening because of extenuating circumstances, like me, then you have alternatives.  You don’t have to buy all of your fresh produce from the grocery stores.  Local roadside stands are a really good option and farmer’s markets are generally sponsored in most cities.

There are also several co-ops that are eager to share their bounty and are they are really good places to purchase a variety of different crops.  One of the local co-ops that I am most familiar with is Bountiful Basket.  If you don’t have a garden, this is a very inexpensive way to enjoy fresh produce.  If this program isn’t available in your area, look for another one that is similar or volunteer to start your own.

The thing that I keep worrying about is that once you do bring home all of this wonderful fresh produce that you don’t let it go to waste.  After you have eaten and preserved all that you can for the season and if you still have more to spare, consider sharing with your neighbors, your local food coalition, Bishop’s Storehouse, or other agency that can use it.

If you grow herbs and want to preserve them, a really easy way is to put them in the fridge.  It’s true.  Without crowding your herbs, put them in a paper bag and loosely close the end and then just forget them in the fridge for a week or two.  This is a relatively quick and easy way to dry them out.  If you don’t overstuff the bag, the air flow in the refrigerator will effectively dry your herbs.  The reason you want to use the paper bag is because you want to let it breathe and dry out.  The reason that you close the bag is because you don’t want the herbs to absorb the fridge smells and distort the taste.  Give it a try (you probably already have without realizing it; remember the dried parsley that you forgot in the fridge?)

Right now, before you plant your garden or start buying produce in bulk, is when you want to make your preservation and eating plan so that you can make sure that you have the least amount of waste and the most amount of joy.

This would also be a good time to rotate your water.  As you are planting your garden, use your old water to water your seeds and get the plants started.  And then refill your jugs.  It is all so easy to rotate and replenish isn’t it!

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