03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ode to Local Farms and Pablo Neruda

"SNOW! CANNOT HARVEST," was the email I received -- instead of the winter squash and onions I was expecting from our last harvest of the season. I am still digging out from hundreds of tomatoes so the lack of more fresh vegetables is a bit of a blessing.

In the past few weeks we have learned to stew tomatoes, oven-dry tomatoes (do not forget that they have been in the oven all day and then turn on the broiler) and make tomato soup. We have made salsa, followed the recipe on the Boulder Valley School District calendar and made bruschetta. We have eaten them plain like candy. We have guiltily tossed moldy and gooey tomatoes straight into the compost.

We bought a CSA (community supported agriculture) share early in the spring. We encouraged several friends to join us -- that way the farm agreed to donate a share to the Sudanese refugees we mentor. I was not looking at this as a cost saving since $20 per week seemed like a lot of money to spend on the amount of veggies we expected. The CSA purchase was a commitment to support friends who own a local farm and the college students who idealistically took on the farming tasks.

This ended up being much more than that. We learned that radishes are actually good if they are roasted with soy sauce, peanut oil and sesame seeds. We learned that there are plenty of "weeds" that taste great in a salad and that fresh-picked cucumbers, even malformed and a bit mangy, were the best we had ever eaten. And we learned that only one person in the family is really committed to eating chard and kale.

And we ended up saving money. Lots of money. I went from shopping at least three times per week to once a week. I didn't have to shop for veggies so I could go longer between trips. We felt obligated to eat what was delivered so we cut down on the amount of fish and chicken we would normally eat. Less shopping meant fewer impulse buys -- which cut down on the amount of ice cream and tortilla chips I ate and proportionately increased the amount of whining about the lack of ice cream and tortilla chips in the house.

We are now more committed to eating locally and more understanding of how difficult that will be even in the nirvana of Boulder. Locavore is a nice concept but locavore reality is limited. It is snowing. There is no more basil, no more lettuce and even the winter squash will soon stop growing.

In the winter when I want tomatoes I will buy tomatoes at a store and read Pablo Neruda and remember that tomatoes are overflowing in the streets where they are meant to grow in December: "Ode to Tomatoes" by Pablo Neruda.