I was at New Pioneer Co op today and was faced with a not so difficult decision. Pay more for local organic carrots or less for Grimmway Farms organic carrots. You better believe it that the bag of carrots from Grinnell Heritage Farm located an hour away from the store made it into my cart.
It’s time to start pausing before purchasing based on sticker price alone at the grocery store. That sticker price doesn’t always disclose the other costs associated with that product such as tax subsidies for big corporate industrial farms, environmental costs, loss of local business and community. Those carrots from Grinnell Heritage Farm only traveled an hour in a truck, whereas those carrots from Grimmway came from across the country. There is an environmental cost associated with every purchase you make. If you are already doing the right thing by buying organic, chances are you want to also do what is right by the environment as well and by your community. I would much rather put money in the pocket of my local farms and farmers than a corporation as large as Grimmway. Call me a cynical debbie downer, but once a company expands and becomes part of a large corporation I have a hard time trusting that corners aren’t being cut at the cost of the consumer.
Organic has become industrialized as well, regulated to a fault and perverted into something that I cannot always trust. Our small organic farms are being overtaken and pushed out of the market by Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg, ConAgra, Hershey, etc. When you buy Cascadian Farm frozen vegetables or Muir Glen products or Food Should Taste Good Too chips, you are supporting General Mills. Horizon organic milk and products and Silk are owned by Dean. Kashi and Morningstar Farms are owned by Kellogg, Naked Juice by Pepsi, Odwalla by Coca-Cola, Brown Cow and Stonyfield yogurts are owned by Dannon, Peace Cereal by Post, Peets Coffee which I used to think was independently owned is actually owned by JAB. The list goes on and on and sadly, on.
Why does this matter? Because the interest of those large companies is not to provide us, the consumers, with good, organic products. It’s just not. And when you look at how the ingredients in said products have changed since being bought out it is very obvious. After being bought by Dean, Silk soymilk started using conventional soybeans instead of organic (they now have a separate organic line). Toms of Maine, now owned by Colgate, no longer gets my business as they have put in additives and the quality is noticeably different. When you start comparing the ingredient lists of products pre and post being bought by these larger companies it can be quite striking. The difficult part are the changes that we can’t see, and that is what brings me to my final point.
I love that I can drive to Grinnell Heritage Farm and see my carrots growing. I can talk to the person responsible for growing my carrots. I can address my complaints ( I have yet to have a single one) or questions to a person who is in charge of the entire operation.
I challenge you to take pride in your produce. Feel
good GREAT about your purchases at the store. I spend a lot of money on good food, but I am happy to spend that money because I know that it is going to companies, farms and people who care about producing good quality products for my family and myself. Part of reclaiming your kitchen is reclaiming your power as a consumer to decide who you want to give your money to. And on that note, let’s eat some local organic carrots. I used my bag of carrots for the salad listed below, a Moroccan salad and to eat a big bowl of Baba Ganoush (eggplants from the garden) and have enough leftover to join a rump roast (from a farm in Kalona that I drove to a few weeks ago) in a crock-pot later this week!
Ginger Lime Carrot Salad
- Organic large carrots Thin julienne chop works best, or you can thinly slice or grate
- limes I used 1 lime for maybe 6 carrots.
- fresh ginger will need 1-2inches grated finely
- parsley or cilantro or mint chop a few tablespoons for garnish
- unrefined sea salt
- white or black pepper
- Slice carrots, I found that the julienne cut works best, but all 4 were still yummy!
- Roll the lime (or limes) under the palm of your hand until your hand smells like lime. Then slice the lime in half and squeeze into a small bowl. Or if you have a lime/lemon juicer, use that.
- Peel and grate the ginger and add to the lime.
- Add in olive oil and white wine vinegar, salt and pepper until the marinade is to your liking. It should have a nice balance between the flavors with the spiciness and zing of the ginger and lime coming through. Play around with the proportions of the ingredients until you are happy with how it tastes. I love ginger, so I go heavy on ginger while others would like it to be more subtle.
- Dress carrots with the marinade, mix well, cover and leave in fridge for at least 20 minutes or overnight. This is a great salad to make the night before to take for lunch or even have for dinner the next night!