So, today, we had a much anticipated snow day here in Marquette (Michigan). We live in the land of snow and ice, so we are used to winter weather, but on occasion it slams us out of nowhere or hits us so relentlessly that the school districts finally give up. Don’t get me wrong- I love teaching and my students but I am like a kid on Christmas when it comes to snow days. This time around, I was lucky enough to get the call the night before, so I was able to sleep in rather than keeping myself awake with anticipation and subsequent excitement. On the agenda for the day was a little bit of work and a whole lotta nothin’. My free time gave me the opportunity to catch up on some blogs that I follow. I was especially curious to see how Megan is doing on her new adventures in St. Louis, MO now that she has finished her doctorate degree (Does this mean I have to call her Dr. Killian?). I had just finished posting about my failed Whole Foods challenge when I stumbled upon her posting about her Real World Real Food Challenge. “Wow!” I thought, “This is a sign that I need to keep up with trying to treat my body well and fuel it properly, even when winter time carb cravings nag me.” Click on the link for the full details, but the following are the basic rules from Megan’s blog as well as her picture of the list:
- Everything must come from the same store, during the same shopping trip
- Everything must be organic. If you can get it local organic, that’s even better
- Buy only what is on the list, in the same quantities
- Keep the receipt
The challenge was born out of Sonja Wieck’s experience with Door To Door Organics (She is in Colorado, but I posted the Michigan link). Unfortunately, they do not deliver to the Upper Peninsula (also known as Canada ), but I enjoyed getting a box of produce a week for the price of about $400 a year from Seeds and Spores, our local CSA farm. The boxes were great, but in the U.P. the fruit and veggies are pretty far and few between once the snow flies. They have the option of winter shares, but this fall I was struggling from skipping a few weeks of pay during a job change.
Today, I decided to boost my mood and give the challenge a shot. I headed to the Marquette Food Co-op. I love our food co-op, but I REALLY love the Keweenaw Food Co-op about 90 miles away for the simple fact that they have a fabulous deli! Marquette has a grab-n-go cooler, but nothing beats the soup and other yummies they offer at the Keweenaw Co-op! One thing that I absolutely love about local food co-ops, including Marquette, is that they are always willing to share new products and I am always surprised by finding some gem, old or new in the store. This time, it was gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread from Rudi’s Organic and Gluten Free Bakery It was to die for and I can’t wait for Sam to try it!
Oops, but back to my reason for venturing out in the winter wonderland…when I headed to the store, I totally expecting to go over the $38 price tag from Door To Door Organics and the $51.18 from the Whole Foods in St. Louis. **Update: I should add that I have always been skeptical of buying fresh produce from the Co-Op because everyone always comments on how expensive it is. In the past, I’ve only stuck to staples and gluten-free goodies for my husband** So, how did I do? Drumroll please……
My trip was a success, granted, I do have to say that the advantage that DTD Organics has over the Marquette Food Co-op is the fact that I had to leave the house, in the aftermath of a snowstorm, to get my produce. Everything was organic and I only had a few substitutions: 2 gala apples instead of pinova, 2 large yams instead of 3 smaller sweet potatoes (they are big, see the pic), and a alfalfa/broccoli sprout mix instead of bean sprouts. The box of bean sprouts has at least 2 cups in it, however. There were also way less bags involved! I did use a bag for the collard greens and fennel because they were pretty wet, but the bags will serve a good purpose.
After I got home, I unpacked my colorful goodness and gave everything a home in a fruit bowl that my brother-in-law and a “new to us” fridge that was given to us last week by my in-law’s. It is amazing with HUGE, clear and accessible produce drawers. It definitely has inspired me to cook more these last few days (the extras in the bowl were things that I already had at home).
So, I did it, and proved that things DON’T always cost more in rural areas. So now what? Where do my efforts from the challenge go next? Well, now I hope to keep the ball rolling by documenting what I DO with all of this seemingly random produce. Stay tuned for the best part of the Real World Real Food Challenge…cooking and eating! For now, I’ll leave you with photos of where two of the first items went…