…and it’s basically the only thing that makes California better than most of the the states I’ve been too.
During the week of Thanksgiving, we took a nine day road trip to Oklahoma and back to spend our daughter’s first holiday away from the family with her. We traveled through northern Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and back again the southern route. Aside from the fabulously maintained roads, garbage and homeless free streets, and $2.10/gallon gas, our biggest take away from being outside of California for that long was the lack of quality produce available anywhere. I’m not even being picky about finding organic and locally grown, I mean finding edible fresh fruits and vegetable at all.
After about three days my 16-year old was begging for a salad, even their deli sandwiches lacked produce, blaming the romaine crisis. The lettuce was light green (or brown) iceberg, if there were tomatoes available, they were pale pink and slimy, cucumbers were pickled, okra was fried, and on occasion we could find some baby carrots or a soft bell pepper. It made me realize how lucky we are, and how many people don’t even know it.
At any given time we can go to any store and get just about any vegetable or fruit. It may have been imported from Chile or Mexico or Peru, but it’s here and it’s relatively close to the appropriate color. Unlike the midwest and beyond, you can go to the supermarket and not think twice about loading up on produce, but you are missing out on the abundance our region offers year round that most never even know is possible.
I found this fantastic map of United States organic farms, and was not surprised at all by the intense concentration of them surrounding the Solano and Yolo County area.
I can’t help but continue to ask, why are people still buying produce that is imported from other countries? Off the top of my head I can name:
Eatwell Farm – Dixon
Lockewood Acres– Vacaville
Mud Dauber Farm -Davis
Terra Firma Farm– Winters
These farms all have year round growing seasons with additional products made on farm. Three have weekly CSA box deliveries right to Dixon at our store, and we stock produce from all of them all of the time.
So why am I so obsessed with eating local and seasonal?
#1 It tastes way better. Last week I saw the mayor of Dixon post on Facebook that he was shocked by how delicious a sandwich at our neighbor’s restaurant, Rosemary’s Farm to Fork, was because he thought healthy couldn’t taste good. WHAT??? Real food has more flavor than processed food anyday. Eat tomatoes and strawberries in the summer, and eat mandarins, broccoli, squash, greens and roots in the winter. There are other amazing things in the other two seasons too. You will never be bored with your meals when you eat week by week throughout each season.
#2 It is safer. The less steps from the ground to your table, the less likelihood of contamination. Without the packaging, chemical washing processes and machinery, your local produce is less likely to be exposed to a nasty bacteria that spreads to thousands rather than maybe one leaf that you would wash at home and never have a problem from. Plus, who wants produce that was picked well over a week ago, when it was not yet ripe, and shipped from another country.
# It is more nutritious. Beyond the fact that produce grown in healthy soil has higher nutrient and mineral contents, eating it when it’s in season insures that you are getting the nutrition you need in the season you need it in. Ever wondered why fruit, high in sugar and water, are abundant in the summer and not the winter? Maybe because you burn more calories sweating in the summer heat and are able to fuel your body with those natural carbohydrates while hydrating. And what about the winter? Root vegetables are loaded with minerals like magnesium that are imperative to have on board for absorbing vitamin D and calcium. When there is less sun exposure you need to absorb as much as you can when it’s available, so boosting those keep you from feeling the winter blues. Plus, look at all the wasted citrus, loaded with vitamin C when your immune system needs all the help it can get to keep healthy- nature knows what it’s doing.
#5 You are so privileged to have it available to you, why wouldn’t you? I am so grateful for the people who grow my food. It is picked at the peak of ripeness and delivered to me within a day or two of it leaving the ground or tree. Witnessing what a food desert actually is last week made me feel even more spoiled to come home to fresh picked avocados from my friend Farmer Alan, cabbage and green onions from Lorraine over rice fresh milled by the guys are Chico Rice for dinner tonight.
Want more information about what people are more malnourished than ever, here is a great article.
Map and information about where organic farming is most prevalent from USDA, posted here.