Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An Apple A Day

My husband and I were grocery shopping together over the weekend which is an odd sight. With so many boys and so many commitments, I usually handle food, clothing and supply purchases for the household while he is in charge of other chores. He needed to make a stop at a store near the Trader Joes, so to combine trips and save gas we jumped in the minivan together with the littlest eco'burban boy.
While I had my back turned in the cheese section my husband was perusing the apples and produce. He mentioned he wanted apples. I matter-of-factly said that apples weren't in season, but the early ones would be in here in Michigan in a month or so. He smiles and gamely holds up a bag of apples and says, "These look good". When we talked later he said I physically cringed while looking at the apples. "But, they're from Santiago, Chile! And not even organic, they are dirty, dirty apples! How about a different kind of produce?"

And, here's the rub. My husband is trying to eat healthier, get back on his diet and lose some of the weight that has crept back on. So, who am I to deny him the apples? He really does eat a lot of apples and they are a much better choice than organic potato chips, homemade cookies or local beer. If apples are in the fridge, he will happily munch down two or three throughout the day when he's hungry and that replaces the handfuls of chips or other foods that might not be the best choice.

The moral of the story? I bought the apples. Is an apple from Chile the best choice? No. Is it a better choice than junk food? Yes. Will I spend this fall loading up on the best types of local, organic apples that will keep well through the winter? You betcha! If he hadn't been with me at at the store that day, I wouldn't have bought the apples. Would that have caused him to eat more organic blue corn chips? Maybe. Will I still run out of apples by July? Probably.

So, from time to time a bag of apples from Chile might not be so bad after all? Are the limitations on food and the changes that I have made over the last year a little too stringent? I don't know the answer here or the correct balance between healthy food choices and responsible food choices. I know I am personally willing to forgo the apples until August and eat strawberries today and cherries tomorrow. Though neither of which are as quick to grab and easy to eat as an apple. These might not be the most responsible of food choices for my husband, when an apple might be a smarter direction.

I always say shopping with my husband (or kids!) causes my cart to fill up faster, costs me more money and I end up buying things I hadn't planned. Maybe I should do it more often?


Heather @ SGF said...

I have the same struggle. I'm on a local diet, but I don't expect my hubby to do something so drastic just because I do. So I shop two completely different menus. I get my stuff and then there is his stuff. He's getting better though (he's ridiculously picky) - I got him on homebaked (instead of packaged) cookies, organic corn flakes, my yogurt rolls, and homemade jelly (though it HAS to be grape or he won't eat it so I get it from the farmers market despite the fact I have 60 jars of non-grape in the pantry). It makes a little extra work for me, but he's buying-in little by little. If only I could get him to try a vegetable...

Bobbi said...

Lucky for me, I have early apples already ripening! My biggest consession with my hubby on fruit is bananas - he loves them, but they just don't grow in Kentucky!

Joan said...

I feel what you are saying. It's all a trade off. We've had the same type of discussion about bananas.
That's kinda the reason I named my new blog "Well At Least I Try". Hopefully in the big picture you are taking more steps forward than backwards.

arduous said...

I totally get where you are coming from, EBM. It's a balancing act. And while you wouldn't want to buy apples from Chile when they are available at your farmers' market, if they're not available, and apples is what your husband will eat, then Chilean apples it is.

When you run out of the Chilean apples, you might want to check out another grocery store and see if you can at least find apples grown in the continental US. There are apples in season in other parts of the country.

Green Bean said...

"But, they're from Santiago, Chile! And not even organic, they are dirty, dirty apples!" - Love that line. No wonder we're APLS together. :)

It is tough to not be too strict about this kind of thing. I do find myself asking sometimes which is the healthier option- and in cases like yours, it seems to be dirty apples.

As Joan says, at least we're trying.

eco 'burban mom said...

heather - I agree, you are right. I have been able to get my hubby to switch to so many things. And, apples are so healthy! Even if they are from Chile.... GRRRR.

Bobbi - ssssshhhhh, don't let my secret out! I haven't been buying bananas and no one has noticed around here.

Joan - you are right, well, we are trying for sure. It's hard for me though, once I am in a groove on organic or local, it's just hard to go back. But, this time I needed to, so I caved.

Arduous - That's a good idea, I will certainly check around at other stores. Though, I wonder??? Why apples from Chile at all? IF you can get them from washington (or for heaven's sake, right here in michigan!) why Chile??? It frustrates me so.

GB - I know, I know. The apples certainly were a healthier choice, but I don't like being a dirty APL! I like being a squeaky clean, organic and local APL! :o)

arduous said...

EBM, good point. Why Chile at all? It's frustrating. To me, while I can certainly understand why one might say, get strawberries from Chile in October. I might rather people didn't get strawberries in October from Chile, but like your husband and the apples, I can understand why people do it.

But it doesn't quite make sense to me that grocery stores insist on buying apples from Chile now, when they could get them from Washington just as easily. And that's the kind of structural food chain type change that we can't really do on our own.

Melissa said...

Being relatively new to both the marriage thing and the more serious levels of being more green, one thing I've realized is that not everything has to (or can) be a joint effort. My husband likes eating cereal for breakfast..and asked me point blank not to try making it from scratch. I was kind of offended at first, but I realized that even though we're married, we prioritize things slightly differently...and that's ok (even if it annoys me sometimes!) I'll eat fresh local fruit and homemade yogurt for breakfast, and he can have his cereal. Because he's really pretty good about all the other stuff I ask of him...he recycles (and asks when he's not sure), he feeds my worms, uses cloth napkins, wears line dried clothes without complaint, and sweats at home since we don't usually turn on the AC. So in the end, I don't fight him on the things that are important to him...because I have my own changes I'm not yet ready to make, either.

Greener Grass Notes, Inc. said...

Great post! I struggle with what my daughter eats outside of my view and home. I think of it OFTEN. As much as I try to feed her fresh, organic food, I can't control what others (as her Grandmother) may feed her. I find it difficult to get other people's buy-in on your eating habits for your child. Especially when you are trying to teach them a lifestyle of healthy eating for the rest of their lives! In the end, I decide a processed popsicle won't kill her every once in a while. (hopefully)

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience with my husband recently, but it was with cherries. We were at Safeway, and he wanted to buy cherries that were on sale. The cherries were from CA (and we live in Virginia, where cherries are in season, so buying them seemed slightly ridiculous). I made an argument for some blueberries, which were at least from the eastern US and he agreed. Lucky me, he's not terribly picky.
As for the issue of grocery stores carrying produce from places like Chile instead of somewhere closer, there is a way to address these things. I think, as consumers, we can tell our grocery stores what we'd like to see. Right now, more than ever- with expensive oil prices, stores may be willing to bring in more local produce. At www.sustainabletable.org, an entire section is set aside as "tools you can use" including a shopping guide (i.e. questions to ask the grocery manager, a form explaining why you no longer shop at the store, etc.). It also may be effective to simply talk to the manager about bringing in more local items, and get friends and neighbors to do the same.

Wendy said...

Oh, man! Don't get me started. My kids asked for grapes one day at the grocery store - and we shop as a family ... all of us, my three girls, me and my husband ... and I said, essentially, what you said about the apples. I turned around and my husband was giving me this look like I just needed to crawl under one of the produce displays and hide. Bad Mom, right? I mean, they were asking for grapes!. It wasn't even like it was super processed, trans-fat laden, high fructose corn syrup Oreo cookies. It was grapes ... from Guatemala.

So, then, I felt really bad, and I decided we should, instead, buy some dried fruit, because it takes less energy to ship and they were from Hawaii (not local to Maine by any stretch, but at least domestic), yadda, yadda! And the look he gave me when I picked up the dried pineapple and papaya.

Oh, well. Someday, maybe, we'll be on the same page, but at the moment, since I do all of the cooking, he just let's me have my way, and when he gets tired of the local foods, he skips breakfast at home and heads to Tim Horton's.

I'm just waiting for the day when all of my scouting out local foods and stocking up and storing and canning and growing ends up keeping us from starving, and he'll look at me with love and gratitude in his big eyes and say, "you were right, and thank you" ... but I won't hold my breath :).

eco 'burban mom said...

Virginia - I agree, we need to vote with our dollars too. That's what I was trying to tell hubby. If we choose to buy things local, and ignore the Chilean, maybe they will STOP buying from Chile!

Wendy - I know, isn't it hard? When your kids ask for fruit instead of candy, you just want to give in because it's so smart!! Or, have they just figured us out? I don't know...