Sunday, November 11, 2007

Columbia River Gorge Pears

It's hard to believe that we are already in the third week of November and that Thanksgiving Day is next Thursday. We had a chilly weekend (in the 40s) and as I was grocery shopping at the East Lansing Food Co-op, I was reminded of how little is available this time of year in the way of local food. For the first time since I started Caroline's Lunchbox, I had to confront a fresh produce dilemma. How close or far is "local?" Do I put an Appleschram or Almar apple into Caroline's lunch everyday or do I expand the boundaries of my local food shed to include Oregon so that I can include Columbia River Gorge Bartlett pears and add variety to Caroline's fruit intake? Or, do I buy conventionally grown (non-organic) pears grown nearby? Before Caroline was born, I would have chosen the latter. Back then, I felt that preserving farmland and reducing food miles were two of the most important reasons to buy my food from as close to home as possible. Organic was important but if we didn't preserve our farmland, the issue of organic would be a moot point. Now that I am responsible for Caroline's health, my decision-making process for buying food (especially fruits and vegetables) starts with whether or not the food is organic. After checking out the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce and their report on pesticides in pears which found pesticides on 94 percent of the pears tested, I made a decision. I do want Caroline to have a decent variety of fruits and vegetables in her diet but I would try to buy organic whenever possible. "Decent" doesn't mean strawberries in February or tomatoes in December. But it does mean that once in awhile, I will buy food grown near my hometown on the west coast. And that includes the Bartlett pears grown near the Columbia River Gorge.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 12: Breakfast - O's, Columbia River Gorge pears; Lunch - tofu dengaku, brown rice, mixed vegetables (frozen Cascadian Farm); Snacks - pumpkin carrot muffin

Childcare Center Menu, November 12: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios, Golden Grahams, Rice Krispies; Lunch - deli chicken, California vegetables, bananas, rice, mushroom soup; Snacks - soy nut butter, graham crackers

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