• hello, joe. i’ve missed you.

    October 8, 2009

    Despite the peach incident in my previous post, I had managed to pull away from my Rainbow Grocery-induced trance at the banana stand.

    It was hard not to.  59 cents a pop, printed on every single label.  Since I eat a lot of bananas, I may have gone for these had I not remembered a piece of advice from a trusted source.  19c apiece at Trader Joe’s.

    Ah, Joe.  I fell in love with TJ’s over 10 years ago – the down-to-earth feel, the creative products, the amazing prices.

    A decade on, however, it’s a very different affair.  TJ’s has stayed the same, but I haven’t.  Back then, I didn’t blink an eye at loading up on the blistered peanuts.  I thought nothing of the high-sugar content in many of the cute, little packages.  This time, I cast a careful look at the label.  Some things were great: lots of unsulfured dried-fruit, for instance.  Other things were not: a rack full of sugared mints had me wondering where the natural options were.

    But Trader Joe’s doesn’t market itself as a health-food store, and that’s a good thing.  As always, I’ve found that the best approach to food shopping is portfolio style.  I’m happy to have TJ’s in the mix.

    Next up: one of my favorite SF eats…from Lebanon

    Bookmark and ShareThere are no comments | Have your say
  • the priciest peaches on the planet?

    October 5, 2009

    By the time you read this I’ll be immersed in a one-month yoga teacher training course.  That’s four weeks of ashram life – wake-up bell at 5:30am, two yoga classes a day, lectures, anatomy classes, and karma yoga or selfless service before flopping into bed at 10.

    So I’ve written a bunch of posts scheduled to run while I’m away because I didn’t want to leave Green Appetite all alone, especially not when I captured so many cool things in San Francisco.

    Some shocking things, too, and not what you might expect.

    Day two saw Liz driving me to Rainbow Grocery, an enormous place that had me in a trance.  Rainbow truly lives up to its name by stocking every manner of “health” product under the sun as well as yoga equipment and kitchenware.  I stared at the raw section for about 15 minutes before deciding I really didn’t need any grain-less apple cereal for $10.

    Foolishly, I forgot to look at the price of the peaches.  I was entranced with these perfect orbs at the point of ripe perfection and forgot to check out the numbers.  When the cashier rang them up, they came out to over £6!

    IMG_1001

    Speaking of cashiers, I’m having a hard time not packing my own groceries.  Those who’ve spent time in the UK know that store clerks not only let you get on with your own packing, but they sit down for their shifts, too. Sounds very sensible to me now, but I remember trying to get used to this when I arrived in London nearly six years ago.

    Back to the posh peaches, I had coffee today in North Beach with my new friend Evan who made a very good point about the price of food – good food should be expensive!  Evan’s working on American Foodways, a TV show all about the nation’s real-food revival.  He and his team have tremendous passion for the program, and he’s looking for sponsors to get it on the air.  So if you care about this timely topic and have a brand you’d like to promote, please get in touch with him.

    Up next: my reunion with a cheap yet charming California resident.

    Bookmark and ShareThere are no comments | Have your say
  • how do you watermelon?

    July 18, 2009

    watermelons

    I promise you I don’t work for Whole Foods, though at this rate I may as well.  I wasn’t even intending to go in there yesterday when this mammoth watermelon display stopped me in my tracks.  Hard to tell scale on here, but these are about twice the size of the melons I showed you in my shopping trip post.  And half the price.

    How is this possible?  I wondered this as I hauled my chosen bowling ball up to the cashier.  He gave me a big smile as if to say, “here comes another one.”  The nice young man (goodness, I sound like I’m getting really old!) told me that in his country (Bangladesh), melons like this are at least £3.  “I don’t know how they can be so cheap,” he said, “And people are buying up to four at a time.”  I asked how they were able to carry them home.  “They call their friends.”

    Wow.  So there you have it.  Watermelon mania in West London.  And now I turn it over to you.  While I am still in love with the now famous Watermelon Kiwi Cooler, I’m sure there are plenty other sweet ideas out there.  So tell me, what have you been doing with your melons?

    Bookmark and ShareThere are 2 Comments | Have your say
  • fruit & veggie crunching

    June 19, 2009

    I’ll shop for food over clothes any day.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I tried something on in a store or lusted after a pair of shoes in a window.  But almost every day I’ll find myself eyeing up an avocado or giving a mango a squeeze.

    I spread my food shopping across various sources: farmer’s markets, grocery stores, fruit stalls, and, occasionally, vegetable-box delivery schemes – otherwise known as CSAs in the US.  I used to do the box thing a lot, and in fact even started a catering business around it a few years ago.  But the truth is I just love the hands-on food-shopping experience.  I also got tired of so many onions and potatoes.

    Anyway, I thought I’d do a little price comparison this week.  Because I don’t buy the same things at every place – the point is to spread my pickings out – this is, pardon the pun, comparing apples and oranges.  But it does give an idea of how much I spend, not to mention how expensive life in the UK is.  Still, I can’t imagine what I’d be spending if I were eating out all the time.

    First up, a grocery store trip plus fruit stall fly-by.  Here’s what we’ve got:

    shopstall

    1 mini watermelon
    2 small heads lettuce
    1 box strawberries
    1 box blueberries
    10 flat peaches (utterly heavenly)
    6 vine tomatoes
    1 box cherry tomatoes
    Big bag ‘o carrots
    4 limes
    3 romano peppers (how beautiful are they?)
    5 honey mangoes (be still, my beating heart)

    Total cost: £25.79  ($42.50)  YIKES!

    Still, that’s a lot food.  I should point out that the limes are the only organic item here.  The strawberries, lettuce and tomatoes are all British. Everything else except for the mangoes is grown on the Continent.

    Okay, next up, my farmer’s market trip last week:

    farmers

    1 large head lettuce
    1 large bunch asparagus
    4 beets (for bedazzling smoothies, tops and all)
    2 large bunches spinach
    1 large bag garden peas (fun to peel and wonderful raw)
    1 bunch celery
    9 vine tomatoes
    4 boxes strawberries (not shown, see previous pic)

    Total cost: £15.50  ($25.57) DEAL!

    All of the above are grown a few miles outside London. Double deal.

    Lastly, while I haven’t used them in a while, I thought I’d take a quick peek at the prices at Riverford Organic.  Their fruit and veg box contains:

    broad beans
    cherry vine tomatoes
    kohl rabi
    basil
    pointed cabbage
    portobello mushrooms
    radishes
    aubergine (eggplant)
    strawberries
    cherries
    bananas

    Total cost: £14.95 ($25) including delivery.  Wow.

    Everything except the aubergine and bananas are homegrown.  And not an onion or potato in sight.  Well.  This is tricky.  While the Riverford site states that this box feeds 3-4 people, I wonder who they are basing this on and on how many days.  You’ll also notice that my first picture is heavy on the fruit while the farmer’s market trip leans towards the veg.  This box does balance them out.

    My head hurts.

    I’ve never been good at numbers, but I do know one thing: portfolio.  Rotation, rotation, rotation.  Spreading an investment, whether stocks or stalks, is always a good idea.  And you can always bet on the latter.  Result: I’ll continue to not put all my veg in one bike basket.

    p.s.  I’m curious to know how the prices in the US compare, so if any bloggers there want to do a similar thing, that would be very cool – please let me know if you do.  Happy weekend!

    Bookmark and ShareThere are 4 Comments | Have your say
  • all hail strawberry season

    June 11, 2009

    bikeberries

    This was, admittedly, a stretch – even for me.  Yet I, and the berries, somehow managed to make it home in one piece despite carrying an additional eight pounds of apples on my back and keeping an eye on those tall leeks you see peeking out of the corner.  But how could I resist four punnets for 5 GBP (about 8 USD), plus a discount for buying double?  And how cute are those baskets?

    I do love my weekly trip to the farmers market here in West London, and yes – the British climate is such that we have abundant berries and apples at the same time.  I’ll remember that next time I’m inclined to complain about the weather.

    You’ve gotta love strawberries – they’re high in fiber, low on the glycemic index and just beautiful to look at, which has to mean nature really wants us to eat lots of them.  They’re also plentiful and relatively cheap right now, so go out and get some.  In fact, I’m so crazy about strawberries and how good they are for us that I’ve changed the blog’s background photo in honor of them.  Speaking of seasonal, I’ve now also tagged relevant recipes with seasons so you can search them that way, too.

    So, you might be wondering what a girl does with this many berries.  I’ll rinse and freeze about half of them – green tops and all – for ready inclusion in smoothies.  And the other half: well, they’ll go quite fast in this queen bee of un-recipes that ranks way up there on the simple, tasty scale.  It calls for sprouted grains, but fret not if you haven’t yet been converted to the wonders of these little gems.  I’ll soon be posting the secret to successful sprouting every time – and it requires no special equipment whatsoever.  And yes, this recipe violates that golden rule of food combining that says fruit should be eaten on its own, but I find that this combo agrees with my tummy just fine, and since the grains are sprouted we’re talking lots of live-enzyme action.

    Let me know how it works for you, and enjoy the berry bliss!

    new recipe: simply sensational strawberries

    Bookmark and ShareThere are no comments | Have your say