Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I've been trying to stretch the few dollars I have, which means cooking more and eating out less. So if you're wondering how many meals can come from $50 at the greenmarket and a little over $30 at Whole Foods and other, more local, markets, here it goes.

On Wednesday, I went to the Queens County Farm Museum, where I got two small black peppers, four large heirloom tomatoes in different colors/varieties, four kirby cucumbers, two ears of corn, and a discounted pork chop for two (all pork at the Queens County Farm Museum is currently twenty-five percent off) for eighteen dollars. Next, I hit up the Astoria greenmarket for local peaches, yellow plums, one eggplant, one yellow squash, one red onion, and Japanese turnips (seven dollars). The next morning, I went to a salumeria near my house, where I bought a pound of fresh bucatini for three dollars, and the fish market, where I got a half pound of rock shrimp for another three dollars.

At Whole Foods, I undertook my most expensive shopping for the week. I bought hormone-free grass-fed cow cream, fresh butter, Maytag blue cheese, a pint of Van Leeuwen pistachio ice cream, and apricots from Red Jacket Orchards in upstate New York.

Friday, I made a run to the Union Square greenmarket for farm fresh eggs, a loaf of wood-fired whole grain bread, bush basil, a small watermelon, blueberries, and sour and sweet cherry nectars (twenty dollars).

My meals went as thus:


Fresh bucatini with corn, rock shrimp, turnip greens, caramelized red onion, summer squash, eggplant, and cream; Peppers, eggplant, and Squash roasted with Blato olive oil; Yellow plum crumble with pistachio ice cream.


Leftover bucatini for lunch.

For dinner: Heirloom tomato salad with pickled Japanese turnips, kirby cucumbers, Maytag blue cheese, bush basil, corn; Grilled whole wheat bread; Poached farm fresh eggs; Yellow plum crumble with Van Leeuwen pistachio ice cream.


Leftover eggs and bread for breakfast.

Leftover tomato salad for lunch.


Another tomato salad from the remains of the cheese, turnips, tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and red onion. (The corn is long gone).

That leads me to today. I had poached eggs and toasted bread again. I never get tired of eggs. For dinner tonight, I'll be making that pork chop, grilled, with a Red Jacket Orchards apricot compote, more grilled bread, and a salad of watermelon and basil. Less than a hundred dollars at local establishments bought me dinner for two for almost five days, nothing to complain about.

My recent goal has been to buy food grown near where I live. I try to buy organic when I can, but mostly, I try to stay local. It isn't as easy as it seems. For whatever reason, most of the grocery stores near me sell food that is specifically non-local: mangoes, bananas, strawberries from California, milk from some milk plant in Iowa. Cooks who live near 14th Street have the near-daily luxury of shopping at the Union Square greenmarket; for me, that's a forty-five minute trip, one-way, and a ten-block walk with my haul.

Worth the effort?


I don't question whether or not this food tastes better; it does. I don't question whether or not this food is better for me; it is. I do, however, question how normal people are supposed to eat locally when it takes nearly two hours of the day to get groceries. Is the carbon footprint I reduce by eating local food negated by the carbon footprint I create just getting to my food?

I guess I don't know the answer. It would be easier if groceries stocked food from actual farms, rather than genetically modified California lettuce. Maybe that's the distant future calling. Who knows?

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