Years ago, when I became a vegetarian and then moved within 5 blocks of a Whole Foods Market, I became an avid fan of organic produce. I understood it was a bit more costly than conventionally grown (and at times, manipulated) fruits and vegetables, but I was convinced I could taste a difference and if nothing else, I was full of the zeal which often accompanies a major lifestyle change.
Years passed, times got a little tough...I lost my job at a non-profit organization after multiple cuts in government funding, coincidentally occurring at the same time as Bush's Great War. In the nine months it took me to find a new job, I would be lying if I said I had little trouble surviving on unemployment. I took a part time job and continued to look for full time work while trying to nourish my body while being as thrifty as possible. Actually, Robin's book would have come in awfully handy if it had been written in 2006. In any case, while I continued to purchase the best quality food I could justify with my shrunken budget, I let organic food slide, bit by bit, out of my diet.
Why did I do that??
I've recently been reminded, in many ways, of the superior quality of organic produce, as well as other staples. Mostly out of laziness (I prefer not to scrub my pesticide-coated food with steel wool), I have gotten back into the habit of buying organic fruits and most vegetables. However, in the frozen food aisle, I have continued to buy "normal" vegetables. In preparation for tonight's Indian-Spiced Lentil Ragu from Vegan on the Cheap, I needed one of those nifty boxes of frozen spinach. The past several times I've purchased those little cubes of chopped greens from Superfresh, I have found myself fishing out dead and brown pieces, as well as prickly sticks, and I'm not fond of dissecting my frozen veggies. So, this time, I decided to try the boxes of organic frozen spinach at Whole Foods, just to see if there was a difference.
I don't know why this continues to surprise me. I guess I'm just that dense sometimes. My first thought upon adding the green brick to my ragu was exactly how green it was; there was not a single shred of rotted brown spinach or sticky stems. It remained a green that could only be described as lush throughout the cooking process and even the curry spices couldn't muddle its beautiful emerald coloring.
I'm not sure you can see it too well in this picture, but it is gorgeous and more tender than I have been accustomed to when eating frozen spinach. I didn't even realize the different texture until tonight, but once again, the organic proves to be worth its price even when frozen.
Last night, I waged another battle in my war with Brown Rice. I don't know why we can't just get along and live harmoniously. It wants to be cooked; I want to cook it - I don't know why we can't work together for what is obviously a common goal. Nevertheless, I nearly lost the battle last night.
There are no pictures of the Mexican Bean and Rice Bake from Vegan on the Cheap. I was too angry at dinner to photograph it. I am somewhat convinced that Brown Rice is not necessarily picking a fight with me, as much as it is trying to avoid bathing in Tomato Juice. It seems that every time I have trouble with Brown Rice, it involves this nemesis. After waiting over two hours for dinner to cook last night, I have come to the unshakable decision to always cook the rice separately from anything that involves tomatoes.