Friday, March 25, 2011

Going greener

baby carrot

We're not really "green" so much as we're broke. We don't recycle because we're good people--we recycle because the statiegeld saves us a euro here and there on our groceries. So eating organic regularly is out of the question. About the only thing I do get with any degree of regularity is organic herbs, and that's because they are, surprisingly enough, cheaper than the supermarkets' pathetic excuse for plant matter.

Right before I left Philadelphia, I had toyed with the idea of joining a CSA group. Community supported agriculture was big a couple years ago--basically you pay a few hundred dollars in May and get a big box o' food every week for the next six months. Subscription plans vary in the details, but the basic gist of CSA is that you get organic produce fresh from the farmer, and cheaper than from Whole Paycheck Foods.

I'd wondered if such things existed in the Netherlands. I mean, I assumed there was such a thing, given how ecologically sensitive the country is (individuals, not so much). But if it did, I certainly wasn't hearing about it. Thus, dinner with the Bekkers was enlightening, not only because we learned how to make a quick 'n dirty Hollandaise sauce, but also because P. Jonas told us about his groete abonnement: every week he gets a bag of organic greens and fruit (his apparently included fruit; some of the ones that I've seen also offer organic meat) that included such things as salsify and winter purslane, which were both incorporated into the delectable meal.

So of course, one of the first things I did upon getting back was google "groente abonnement". It took a little searching, since the first thing that pops up is the website of the Netherlands' Green Party, but eventually I turned up the website for sustainable living and with it, the link to how to get what is essentially a CSA subscription. Except they're broken, so what you really do is do a search for the pickup points and go from there. For the life of me, though, I'm not entirely sure what to make of a website that thinks I'll go to Amsterdam to pick up a bag of vegetables.

It's not a CSA the way most of the Americans I know would think of it, not exactly. Rather than paying for six months' worth of food at once, you pay for a weeks' worth--okay, three meals' worth--of fruits and greens at a time. And while the cost is actually pretty low, it does concern me a bit, because Karel sucks at being Dutch, and no Dutch bag of veggies would be complete without a pillar of leek, which is the one thing we do not eat on a regular basis.

All the same, the idea of just dropping by Brakkenstein on a Saturday morning, rather than pedaling all the way to the market, is very appealing. And fresh purslane--well, that's worth whatever it costs.

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