Organic Grocery Delivery Follow-Up

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With less than a week left in the month, I’ve clearly missed the boat on planning my One Green Thing for November. Ah, well, some months are like that. However, it occurs to me that this means I also haven’t updated you on my One Green Thing for October, which was trying out organic grocery delivery. I wanted to fill you in on how that’s been going.

As you may recall, I reactivated my account with SPUD.ca, a local business that delivers organic and locally-grown and produced food once each week. (Just a note – I am not being compensated in any way for this blog post, I’m just sharing my experience because I think you might be interested.) I had used the service a number of years ago, but stopped it because I found that I was spending too much on groceries. With a weekly commitment on Sundays making it difficult for me to visit my local farmers’ market, I decided to try them out again.

I am a month and a half in now, and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. The pluses:

  • A weekly standing order means that I never forget the basics like milk, bread, eggs, lettuce and so on.
  • I really don’t have to visit the grocery store nearly as often – I’m averaging about once every three weeks now. Coupled with the fact I’m not frequenting the farmers’ market this means I’m spending very little time grocery shopping.
  • My delivery driver remembered me, even all these years later, and was glad to see me.
  • I know exactly where my food is coming from, because they tell me.
  • They have an iPhone app, so when I finish something in my kitchen (like, say, mayo) I can order it right then and there.
  • Like pretty much any grocery store, they carry some items I can’t find anywhere else, which I’m enjoying.

The minuses:

  • While they carry almost everything I need, there are some things I just can’t get from them, like my husband’s gluten-free bread or certain spices.
  • They definitely are more expensive than shopping at the grocery store, although I’m getting a higher percentage of organic food.
  • Sometimes they mess up my order, or don’t have something in stock. While they work hard to make it right, it still means that I don’t have something I expected to have.
  • They deliver to my house on Thursdays. It would be more convenient for me if I got groceries at the beginning of the week, so that I had more fresh food on hand for my kids’ school lunches.

One the whole, for me, the pluses are currently outweighing the minuses, so I’m keeping it. I’ll let you know if I change my mind again.

Have you tried home grocery delivery? What did you think?

One Green Thing: Put on a Sweater!

One Green Thing Strocel.comToday I’m tackling my One Green Thing for September. This month it’s all about handling the colder weather. But first, I’ll talk about preparing my garden for winter last month.

In early August, I said that I would start my winter garden. I placed an order and got some over-wintering seeds, as well as some cover crops. I’m still in the early stages, though. There are some plants still to harvest in my garden, and I’m slowly working through what I have and getting ready to plant my fall crops. I’ve laid the groundwork, though, and I’m feeling good about it.

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With September here, there’s no denying that fall is on its way. The days are a little shorter, the mornings and nights are a little cooler, and the weather is a little wetter here in Vancouver. My plan is to try to reduce the amount of energy I’m consuming in the winter months ahead. I’m doing this in two ways. The first – and biggest – way is that there are renovations underway on my sunroom right now. In fact, literally as I type someone is banging away eight feet from where I sit. The result, hopefully, will be a more energy-efficient home, which will lower my energy bills. The second way I’m targeting energy consumption is a little more achievable. I call it put on a sweater.

My thermostat has gone up and down over the past number of years. At the moment, it’s up again. I’m planning to reduce it by a few degrees. If I’m cold, I’ll try putting on warmer clothes. I also took an old basket we have kicking around and I’m using it to hold blankets in the living room, so if anyone’s cold while they’re sitting and watching TV they can put one on. It’s a small thing, but hopefully it will make a difference over the course of the winter. I’m also considering knitting myself a shawl – if you know of a great pattern for worsted weight yarn, please let me know!

How do you keep your heating bills in check in the cooler months? Leave a reply and let me know! Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

One Green Thing: Winter Gardening

One Green Thing Strocel.comToday I’m tackling my One Green Thing for August. This month it’s all about planning my winter garden. But first, I’ll talk about my commitment to local eating last month.

At the beginning of July, I said that I would eat 10 local meals over the course of the month. Partway in, however, I decided to switch things up. I realized in pretty short order that I was eating a lot of local food, but not necessarily all at once. For example, I’d have some fresh blueberries with breakfast, some cucumber and cheese at lunch, a snack of a fresh peach, and potatoes and a salad at dinner. None of those constitute an entire meal, however, that’s nothing to sneeze at local food-wise. So, instead, I decided I would eat at least three servings of local food every day. I found this more manageable, and on many days I got as high as five or six servings, or even more. I call this a success, because I did increase the amount of local food I ate over the course of this month.

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The view inside my plant tunnel

Now it’s August, which is the height of summer. Talking about my winter garden feels a little premature, on the surface of it. However, just as I plan my summer garden in the depths of winter, the dog days of the summer are the best time to think about what I may still be able to grow in the colder months. I’m going to give a shout-out to the fabulous Christy of Eco Journey in the Burbs for the inspiration she gave me in a post over on the Green Phone Booth.

To help me get started, I recently placed an order with West Coast Seeds, both for some plants that will likely grow well during the cooler months (lettuce, beets, carrots) and some over-wintering varieties that I will plant now and harvest in the spring (broccoli, cauliflower, onions). I already have a small plant tunnel, so that I can shelter my sensitive plants from the harshest weather. This year I decided to buy some rye as a cover crop, as well. In past years I’ve collected and laid down leaves, but I’ve had mixed results so this year I’ll try this instead.

I’m lucky to live in a part of Canada that has very mild winters, so year-round gardening is possible. My hope is that by growing food in every season, I’ll be able to further reduce my food miles at a time of year when I otherwise might be eating a lot of imported fruit and veggies.

Do you plant a winter garden? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

One Green Thing: Eating Local

One Green Thing Strocel.comToday I’m tackling my One Green Thing for July. This month it’s all about eating local. But first, I’ll talk about my adventures in hang-drying laundry last month.

At the beginning of June I committed to hang-drying six loads over the course of the month. I made it – just barely. We had a really hot snap at the end of the month, which helped considerably. I will admit I found parts of it challenging. My husband and I have gotten into the routine of doing all of our laundry on Sunday. With limited space on my drying racks, I found I was only to hang a couple of loads to dry at a time. If I started first thing in the morning on a hot day, I can dry maybe three loads of laundry before sunset. In cooler, wetter weather, it might take a couple of days for clothes to dry. If I really want to line dry my clothes, I’d need to change my laundry patterns, and wash clothes throughout the week.

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This cauliflower is growing in my garden right now!

This month, I’m going local in the kitchen. I’m harvesting the first new potatoes from my garden, and my raspberries are currently at peak ripeness. My local farmers’ market is resplendent with all kinds of local produce. To celebrate all this bounty, I’d like to make a point of eating more local food during the month of July. To that end, I’m committing to 10 local meals this month. I already had one last night, with potatoes from my garden and steak and salad greens from the farmers’ market.

I did the same thing last July, and once again I’m giving myself some local eating latitude. I’m not counting condiments, spices and the like as part of the meal. Last night, for instance, I had non-local salad dressing, and I cooked my potatoes in imported olive oil. I’m not sweating those parts. I’m also not defining ‘local’ with a strict 100 mile (or similar) limit. I’m saying any food that I grow myself or buy at a farmstand or the farmers’ market counts, with the exception of prepared foods made primarily of non-local ingredients. Baked goods made from flour of unspecified origins wouldn’t count as local, but the beef that a rancher drove five hours to the market would.

While I do try to eat local, the truth is there are many imported foods my family loves. Bananas and mangoes just don’t grow in the Pacific Northwest, and some foods like broccoli don’t grow here year-round. At this time of year, however, eating local is at its easiest, and fresh produce is at its tastiest. I’m taking advantage of that and doing my best to prepare meals that come from my own back yard. I’ll let you know how I make out.

Do you eat local? What are your favourite sources of local food? Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

One Green Thing: Hanging Laundry to Dry

One Green Thing Strocel.comIt’s the first Thursday of the month, so today I’m tackling my One Green Thing for June. This month it’s all about laundry. But first, I’ll talk about my home improvement adventures last month.

At the beginning of the month I set a goal of learning about green home renovations. How did I do? Honestly, not all that well. We’ve signed on the dotted line for some work on our house. We’re going to be re-doing our ensuite, both for esthetic reasons and because with 30-year-old fixtures and moisture issues it’s necessary. We’re also going to be re-doing our sunroom, for greater energy efficiency. After we do these things, our house should be greener, both from an energy perspective and from a health perspective. I chose a company with a commitment to being eco-friendly. As we start choosing materials I’m planning to look for greener options. But I didn’t do any reading or research, unfortunately.

As I type this post, it’s a beautiful day out. Last night, I fired up our barbecue for the first time this season. It occurred to me that I should start hanging my laundry out to dry. So, that’s my goal for this month. Here in Raincouver even June can be wet and cold, so I’m trying not be too cocky. But on a day like today, I could easily give the dryer a pass and hang some laundry outside.

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According to the US government, the clothes dryer is one of the largest energy drains in any home. I’m guessing this is especially true for families with young children. Let’s face it, kids mean laundry. Lots and lots (and lots and lots and lots) of laundry.

I’ve hung clothes out to dry in the past, but I’ve gotten lazy in the past year or so. My husband took over doing the kids’ laundry, and he’s long been doing our laundry too, so making the time to hang it out has fallen down my list of priorities. This month I’d like to bump it back up. My goal is to hang at least six loads of laundry to dry during the next four weeks. Now I’m just crossing my fingers that the weather cooperates.

Do you hang laundry to dry? I’d love to hear about it. Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

One Green Thing: Home Improvement

One Green Thing Strocel.comIt’s the first Thursday of the month, so today I’m tackling my One Green Thing for May. This month it’s all about home improvement. But first, I’ll talk about my cycling adventures last month.

While I really, really, really loved the Ivanna Urbanista from Opus Bikes, the truth is that my cycling experiences were a mixed bag. I found that I didn’t use the bike as much as I had hoped, which is particularly galling because I only had it for two weeks. I knew my time was limited, and even still I was only able to get out on two wheels a few times. The first time was for a coffee date and some errands, and I totally overdid it. It drove home that cycling isn’t exactly super-easy, especially if you have anything to haul with you. I also went cycling with my eight-year-old Hannah, and while that was fun, it was also fairly stressful even on our not-so-busy suburban streets. I honestly can’t see cycling with my kids for anything other than recreational purposes. I am still seriously considering a bicycle, but I doubt I’ll become a serious cyclist anytime soon.

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Me, 10 years ago, cutting baseboards

This month I’m heading in an entirely different direction, by setting my sights on some home improvement. After our misadventures in real estate in April, in which we put forward an offer on a house in our neighbourhood that wasn’t accepted, Jon and I have decided that we really need to focus on fixing all the things that need to be fixed in our current house. Maybe in the process we’ll create a home that meets our every need. Or maybe we’ll just be ready to sell if another house comes up. Either way, 10 years after buying this place it’s time to do some more renovating.

My goal for May is to learn about green home renovations. We’ve had one quote on some work from a company that advertises itself as doing sustainable home improvement. We’ve got another company coming by this weekend to size up what needs to be done. I want to do some background reading of my own, so that by the time we’re actually signing on the dotted line on any work, I know a little bit more about how I can minimize the environmental footprint, and maybe even make my home a little greener in the process. I think I’ll start by re-listening to my podcast with green building expert Anna Hackman.

This feels like something of a full-circle moment for me. Strocel.com started 10 years ago this month, as a blog about home buying and home improvement. Now I’m re-entering that world, but with an eye towards sustainability. If you have any tips to share around green home improvement, I’d love to hear them. Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

One Green Thing: Loaner Bicycle

One Green Thing Strocel.comIt’s the first Thursday of the month, so today I’m tackling my One Green Thing for April. This month it’s all about getting out on two wheels. But first, I’ll talk about my seed-starting exploits last month.

I’m happy to say that my seed-starting went well. So far I’ve planted spinach, kale, potatoes, and my first batch of carrots outside. I have some little spinach seedlings happily growing. I also put out compost, and started licorice mint, bergamot, yarrow, butterfly bush, pumpkins, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, tomatillo, parsley, basil, onions, peppers, tomatoes and cantaloupe inside. My seedlings are doing well. I’m ready to pot on the pumpkins and tomatoes – in fact, I should do that today. I also managed to get some pruning done this month, and I’m feeling very proud of my gardening efforts on the whole.

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For April, I’m heading in a totally different direction. I was contacted by a PR company, and got the chance to request a loaner bicycle. If all goes to plan, I should receive it in mid-April. I’m really excited about the opportunity. I’ve long wanted a bicycle of my own, since I haven’t had one since I left home at 18. However, I’m constantly going back-and-forth, unsure if I would actually use the bike enough to justify the cost. I’m viewing the loaner as a great trial run, to let me see just how cycling could fit into my greener lifestyle.

I think this would be a good time for me to buy a bike, actually. My daughter Hannah is getting to be a pretty good little cyclist, and for her birthday my mother, my grandmother and I pitched in to buy her a 12-speed. She’s fast on it, and I could see taking her for shorter-distance rides. Also, I’m now staring down the barrel of my son starting kindergarten in five months. Once I’m not carting him around as much, cycling for short errands will be more manageable for me. I’m hoping that the loaner bike will just confirm my belief that it’s time to get out on two wheels.

I’ll report back next month and let you know if the loaner bike worked out, and how it went for me. Right now, though, I need to go shopping for a helmet and maybe some snazzy cycling shorts. While I do that, I’d love to hear your own cycling tips and experiences. Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

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