Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Greenmarket Challenge: Day 6

Rather than supplementing my Greenmarket purchases with purchases from the supermarket as I usually do, I bough all of my purchases from the Greenmarket this week. I set myself a budget of $110, which is only slightly more than what I normally spend for two weeks of groceries. Keep in mind that this budget will cover my breakfasts, lunches, and dinner for the next 12 days; that's $11 a day, a fair budget considering my average lunch in midtown Manhattan is $8. I have allowed myself some leg room to use ingredients such as grains, sauces, and garlic that I already had on hand, but other than that necessary allowance, my entire diet for the week will consist of local foods. Follow along with me as I document local my meals over the next twelve days of my Greenmarket Challenge.

Day 6

Breakfast: Whole wheat toast with Tonjes Farm Dairy ricotta, Cherry Lane Farm strawberries, and local honey

Lunch: Rotini salad with sugar snap peas and spring garlic pesto (recipe below)

Dinner: Leftover Grazin' Angus Acres roast chicken with baked Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans

I'm now halfway through my Greenmarket challenge. I've been subsisting on leftovers the last few days, but with today's meals, I have finished my leftovers and will start cooking from scratch again with the rest of my Greenmarket goods.

I find it interesting that the New York Times is running this story from Pete Wells in this Sunday's magazine section. Mr. Wells' $35 5lb. chicken is almost certainly from Grazin' Angus Farms (the only farm at the Greenmarket charging $7 per lb. of chicken). While I found the price of the chicken to be just as jaw dropping as Mr. Wells did, I was quite pleased with the flavor of the chicken. As Mr. Wells mentions, the Grazin' Angus chicken is somewhat tough, but not to the point of being inedible. I have found that freshly-killed pasture-raised chickens tend to be tougher than most chickens due both to the muscles they have developed from running around the farm. Also, meat tenderizes days after it is slaughtered; unlike supermarket chickens, the chickens sold at the Greenmarket are generally sold shortly after they have been slaughtered, so they are not as tender.

While Mr. Wells is correct in writing that purchasing a $7/lb. chicken is not the best strategy for surviving the depression, one need not give up shopping at the Greenmarket to save money. Just as you cannot mindlessly throw items into a shopping cart at the supermarket, you cannot shop for local ingredients at the farmers market without a budget and a shopping plan in mind. Twenty-one dollar chicken aside, I hope that my Greenmarket challenge is proving that anyone can go local to some degree.

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