How the Vegetable Co-op Changed My Life

Bins awaiting pick-up by co-op members.

Bins awaiting pick-up by co-op members.

I’m not what you’d call a Tree-hugger, a Granola, or even a Free Spirit. Those titles require a lot more time and energy to earn than I have to give. Sadly. (Because I particularly admire tree-huggers.) Anyway,  in the spirit of adventure, this wanna-be tree-hugger tried something new and joined a vegetable co-op. My goal was to force myself to eat healthier, and I guessed that if the vegetables were already selected and provided for me weekly, instead of sitting in stores waiting for me to go pick them out, I would.

Did I meet this goal? Yes! Did our compost pile grow substantially due to an abundance of uneaten vegetables? Yes!

Okay, so my experiment could have been more successful had we eaten more and composted less. BUT here are some things I discovered about myself during the process.

  1. I definitely eat healthier when my refrigerator is stocked with vegetables.
  2. I lost weight without dieting because an abundance of vegetables was on hand.
  3. I was forced to try foods I hadn’t tried before.
  4. I became an adventurous cook, googling recipes, and altering those I found to keep them low fat.

Every Friday, I went to the Omni Gym to pick up my box of locally grown vegetables delivered by Pinckney’s Produce. The combination of vegetables in my box IMG_20131213_124052_681was never the same, but it usually contained some vegetables you could eat without cooking, like lettuce, and some I already knew how to cook, like broccoli, and a few others I had never tried. It was fun to experiment with these and try some new dishes. I even attempted new recipes for familiar vegetables.

Curious about some of the recipes I tried?

Stir-fried bok-choy. Kolrabi chips. Fried cabbage. Tomato pie.  Stir-fried eggplant. Collard greens. (Don’t let the word fried, fool you here. None of these were fried in the usual sense.)

My favorite source of vegetable recipes became Martha Stewart’s website. There, you click on the vegetable and scroll through all available recipes for it. Most are straight forward (and low fat), so I loved this.

My doctor tells me that all women need to eat a lot of vegetables in the cabbage family, like broccoli, ….. but I wasn’t sure what to do when I ended up with three heads of cabbage in my vegetable drawer. The only way I knew how to cook it was boiled, and I didn’t particularly like it that way. I was surprised to find a recipe for “fried” cabbage. Apparently, it is a common southern dish that this southerner had never heard of. I made a low fat version of it, and my husband and daughter were asking for more.

Here is how I made it:

Chop one onion and sauté in two tablespoons olive oil. Chop cabbage in to small pieces, add to onion. Add a touch more olive oil, if needed. continue to sauté. Sprinkle with one teaspoon sugar. Yes, sugar. Sprinkle mixture with garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Stir until cabbage is fairly soft.

1.Chop 1 onion. Sauté in 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2. Chop 1 head of cabbage into small pieces, add to onion. Add a touch more olive oil, if needed. Continue to sauté.
3. Sprinkle with one teaspoon sugar. Yes, sugar.
4. Sprinkle with garlic salt, salt, and pepper.
5.Stir until cabbage is fairly soft.

You’ll be surprised by how good this is!

The lifestyle changes I made as a result of  joining the vegetable co-op are subtle, but I am happy to discover an easy way to eat healthier and try new recipes. This past Friday marked the end of the fall co-op season. We’ll be signing up for the co-op again this spring with the goal of cooking more and composting less! The new year is right around the corner… does anyone’s resolution involve trying something new?