Stylocycle’s Blog


Pfenning’s Organic
April 21, 2009, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I promised a post about other environmentally conscious efforts that combine with my commitment to cycling. Cycling to and from work, and as part of my everyday life is quite obviously my favourite thing to do, and it’s so much a part of my day to day that I honestly don’t think of it as a special effort; it’s just the way I live. And when I remark on it being an environmentally conscious choice, I do not mean that to sound purely directed toward outward concerns. If I consider myself and my health as part of what is ‘environmentally sound’ then getting my exercise by cycling is a very self-oriented thing to do. The point is that we do not have to serve ourselves at the expense of others, nor, indeed should we. This lesson I learned long ago from de Beauvoir’s Ethics of Ambiguity wherein she elaborates on the distinction between types of freedom.

… but I digress. (I know: shocking, isn’t it?)

Anyway, my second favourite thing that combines a variety of efforts to live a more environmentally conscious (and conscientious, for that matter) life is to use the services of Pfenning’s Organic. Pfenning’s is owned by a local farming family who started (actually: returned to) organic farming practices in the mid-20th Century because the family worried that new industrial practices were harming soil and food quality. About 15 years ago one of the daughters opened a store out of which to sell their produce and the little store has grown out of the barn and into its own site in a small shop in St. Agatha, about 6 km west of Waterloo.

Among the services that Pfenning’s provides is the weekly delivery of organic produce in boxes that can be local-only, or a combination of local and imported produce. They will also deliver anything they carry in the store.

Every week I order a large ‘blended box’ (because I just can’t bear the thought of living without bananas and citrus fruit, and found that by November the local offerings of apples and cabbages and carrots depressed me). I also receive a dozen eggs every 2 weeks, and a litre of whole milk, from which I make my homemade yogurt.

How much does this service and product set cost me? a little less than $125 a month, and we are a family of 3, including the teen-aged boy who is set to ‘constant feed’. We do buy extra ‘ordinary milk’ for drinking because organic dairy is just so expensive, and we buy the bulk of our other groceries on our monthly trips to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

Anyway, my points about Pfenning’s are these:

1. Delivery of food from the store to the client base is far more fuel efficient than for individuals to go shopping themselves. The routes are rationalised, and there is less waste.

2. During the Ontario growing season we are supporting local farms who grow their produce using sustainable practices.

3. The organic produce is more fragrant and more flavourful and more satisfying than industrially farmed, mechanically irrigated produce.

4. The prices are quite moderate even though by the pound organic costs ‘more’. The reasons for this are twofold: first, we have less waste than when we used to shop at the grocery store (because we are more mindful about what we have available to eat), and second, delivery keeps us from making frivolous trips to the store for potatoes or lettuce (that end up luring shoppers, including us, into purchasing all kinds of junk that we don’t need).

5. Staying out of the shops and avoiding stupid purchases of tchochtkis means that we consume/dispose of far less waste than before.

6. Because I receive my deliveries, it feels as though I’m getting a kind of ‘gift’ every week, and I do not feel ‘deprived’ because I haven’t bought item x, y, or z that I passed by in the store.

Some people choose to use CSA boxes for their food deliveries, and some locations have food co-op shops. I’m not into churchy stuff in particular, so I don’t use the CSA options around here (they are run by the local Catholic Diocese). And we don’t have any food co-ops around here.

Finally, Pfenning’s is a pleasant bike ride from my house, and I like to take jaunts out on my bike to their location. I’ll take pictures as soon as I have time to start those rides.

For now, I have to concentrate on grant writing and grading and junk like that.

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4 Comments so far
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Interesting. I was thinking of joining a similar type of food delivery service program, but it was impossible to justify when I live two blocks away from Whole Foods. But the avoiding stupid purchases of tchochtkis is a strong argument 🙂

Comment by dottie

You’ve made some wonderful points, this is great!!
I bought my first CSA box 9 years ago and couldn’t agree with you more about missing the bananas(in particular). I gave up my subscription awhile back due to a LOT of moving around from place to place. Now I’m looking forward to starting a garden, when I get nice and settled again!
Anyway I love your organic food posts in combo with a bike style of life. Have you checked out Bike Skirt? They love local organic foods as well and have featured some of their recipes and menus too.
Do you wild harvest? I can’t wait for elderberries, blackberries and wild plums which I go gather every summer out in the ‘wilds’.

Comment by RidingPretty aka Shelly

Hi Shelly;
Thanks for your comments. I *do* wild harvest. Wild leeks are in season right now and are quite abundant in the hardwood forest that starts right out my backdoor. In fact, I’m on my way out shortly to go for leek-picking walk. The nice thing about leeks is that if you wash them and lay them flat on towles, you can easily freeze them for use in things like quiche come winter.
At our cottage we are able to harvest wild strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Some people also gather choke-cherries, though I myself have not done. One year my father found morels up there but I haven’t seen any since and that was about 30 years ago. They are supposed to appear in roughly the same places that the leeks do, but I haven’t yet found them!
I’d give my eye-teeth for a huckleberry, but I think they don’t grow here.

Dottie; I only know of one Whole Foods location in Canada and it seemed to carry a lot of over-packaged products, too… so avoiding that problem by having a food basket delivery is another good argument.

Comment by stylocycle

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