21 Jan 2010

Winter Greens

Posted by annmcolford

The march of winter-appropriate vegetables continues: curly kale, black kale, cauliflower, cabbage, delicata squash. I did splurge and buy a package of arugula yesterday because I found myself craving its spiciness and bite; I had ignored the craving for quite some time but finally decided that it’s not going to go away until I satisfy it. Haven’t done anything with the arugula yet, other than to munch on a few leaves while preparing lunch, but I’ll get there. I’m still thinking.

I’ve been keeping myself busy with a couple of temporary little accounting gigs, one with a small nonprofit and one with a small start-up company run by a friend. Delving back into accounting has been “a blast from the past,” as my friend Mary Ellen put it, but it has been kind of fun to resurrect and dust off that knowledge. The last time I did accounting for pay was about six years ago—so it’s not all that far in the past, but a lot of life has happened in the intervening time.

Coming back to accounting after focusing so much energy on writing and storytelling, I’ve been trying to reconcile—there’s an accounting term for you—these two disparate sides of my brain. And I’ve realized something interesting: Accounting is simply a system that allows one to tell a story with numbers. Really. That’s all it is.

Financial statements can reveal a lot about an organization. What activities did the organization pursue during the year? Who gave them money? What did they choose to spend their money on? Do they own more than they owe? The numbers on the financial statements can tell you what the organization’s priorities are and how successful they’ve been at following them.

Back on the food beat… An e-mail message just landed in my inbox from Main Market Co-op: It’s finally open, as of today. They’re still receiving products, and they’re opening very quietly so the staff can learn their roles (and their rolls, one assumes), but they’re open. Yay. Let’s hope that the Field of Dreams adage—“If you build it, they will come”—holds true.

On that subject, I read an interesting piece on Alternet (originally posted on the Blog for Rural America) last week about the necessity of community to support a local food system. The author says, “I used to think there were four distinct pieces to a local food system—production, processing, distribution, and retail. Now I realize there is a fifth—community. Without an involved community of customers who believe in what the local farmer, miller, distributor and grocer is doing, none of them will last very long.”

The lesson for us here in Spokane is clear: Now that we have a cooperatively owned grocer downtown, one that supports the values of sustainability in our food systems, we need to step up and support it. We need to put our hard-earned dollars where our complaining mouths have been for all these years.

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