Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Diamond Family Box

One thing that we don't do here in the red dirt is garden. Not that the land isn't capable of producing (with soil amendment); it's more of a time and space issue, coupled with a severe bug phobia. Putting in a garden is always on the to do list, and it has slowly been moving toward the top, so maybe next spring....

In the meantime, I order awesome boxes from Diamond Organics. Since I am in California anyway I don't feel too badly. We do have several health/grocery stores around, including one that is close enough to go to regularly, however I can't count of the freshness of the produce. I can't tell you how many times I have gone in with broccoli on my list, only to find it yellowed and limp. That wouldn't be a problem, if the green beans weren't also limp, the zucchini bruised, the Brussels sprouts spongy. I'm not sure that it is worth spending extra on organic produce that isn't even as fresh as the non-organic stuff at the regular grocery store.

We got Diamond boxes pretty regularly last winter/early spring. I knew I could count on the quality, and that any problems would be fixed immediately. However, in an effort to scale back our spending we gave up the box and tried to buy organic locally, with the aforementioned results. So I could either trek all over the regional area in search of acceptable organic produce, hitting multiple stores and spending inordinate amounts of time, or I could pony up the money for Diamond box and let FedEx deposit a big box of produce on my doorstep each Wednesday morning (delivery days are not set, there is no committment, heck, you could use UPS). The problem with my "local" organic produce is that it is rarely local, even if I drive to find it.

(For the record, there is no CSA in my area. If I lived in San Juan Capistrano, like my in-laws, I could have a huge, gorgeous basket of local organic produce for only $35 a week. Many other areas of Southern California are similarly served by CSAs; here in the desert it is hard to grow such an abundance of fruits and vegetables.)

So we are back to the box. Last week I ordered a Gourmet Greens and Veggies sampler, which was our standard box last spring. Mid-September I had ordered the original sampler, which has more basic vegetables, but also includes fruit. This week I ordered the family box, which is like the original box but with more produce.

Here's the inventory:

3 white onions
1 head garlic
4 large Russet potatoes
1 large bunch carrots, with tops
1 large bunch Italian parsley
1 English cucumber
1 large Haas avocado
2 lbs. zucchini
2 lbs. green beans
1 small head cauliflower
1 bunch green onions
1 lb. cremini mushrooms
2 lbs. tomatoes
1 head butter lettuce
1 head red leaf lettuce
6 heads baby romaine
1 large bag mesclun salad mix
2 apples
1 bunch bananas
2 pears
2 oranges
1.5 lbs. champagne grapes (absolutely delicious!)

Like I said, it's a basic family box. Last week in the greens box we had more specialty items, such as frisee, raddichio, an artichoke, shallots, baby turnips, baby beets, etc. However, the greens box comes with tons of greens (not only the salad greens, but also kale, chard, dandelion, spinach, mustard greens, etc.) and while we love greens we find that we don't want to eat the same meals week in and week out. So we're trying alternating the box, which also gets us some basics.

(BTW, the gourmet greens and veggies box was amazing last spring, with pencil thin asparagus, baby artichokes, fingerling potatoes, striped baby beets, etc.)

Now I have a house full of produce! We still have a few things left from last week's box:

a huge red bell pepper
a red onion
an artichoke
a bunch of red kale
some raddichio
2 small yams

Amazingly, I still have to supplement what comes in the box. Papa and T-Guy eat more tomatoes than came this week, and we definitely eat more fruit, especially apples and bananas. This time of year we can drive a short distance for organic apples, but the rest of it comes during our other marketing.

I'll start a new post on cooking from the box (sometimes I really wish I hadn't deleted my Simplicity in the Suburbs blog, in which I document our early boxes).

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