Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Four steps to buying local food for my family…

Buy in season, buy local, by California, by US grown!

Everyone has an opinion on how I should buy food for my family. “Buy local, buy organic, only buy from farmers you know,” the list goes on and on. All are great suggestions but not always easy to accomplish. I could spend all my time researching farms, food, farmers, stores, farmers markets, coupons, weekly sale ads, and reading the numerous blogs, tweets, and posts that exist on the topic. The truth is I don’t have time and if I had to guess, neither do you. I choose to spend my time being a wife, a mom and a working professional.

Now I will admit I do relish in a good trip to the grocery store; so much so that my husband will not go with me. He prefers to start on one side of the store and make his way down every aisle getting what he wants in a very logical order. I on the other hand take a random path getting what we need, what looks appetizing, comparing prices and perusing the cheese display. Nothing can put smile on face like a creamy California blue cheese. I love cheese! Going to the grocery store and the farmers markets are treats for me. But that is not my point here.

My point is this, I have found a food buying strategy that can be utilized in any shopping environment – grocery store, membership warehouse or farmers market – that works for my family and I want to share it with you.

Buy in season first, buy local second, buy California-grown third and if all else fails buy American-grown.

It’s simple and straight forward and I can do this at any place I want to buy my food. This strategy also works for me because I trust the farmers who are producing food for my family and me. Furthermore I know when buying my food anywhere in the United States, that I have the privilege of buying food from the safest and most affordable food supply in the world.

If I am buying in season, then I know I am buying when food is at its most abundant and freshest.

If I am buying local, I know that the distance the food traveled to get to me is an advantage for the environment. I should also mention that my definition of local is the growing region that you live in – for me that is the Central Valley of California.

If I’m buying California grown then I know I am supporting the State’s economy. (And odds are if you are doing the first and the second, you are also doing the third at the same time and you didn’t have to think about it.)

And if I am buying American, I am putting my hard-earned dollars to work in our country.

You might ask yourself, “How can I trust these farmers who I don’t know?” I would then ask you, “How can you not trust these people?” It’s impossible to live our day-to-day lives without a little trust. I trust the paper will be there each morning in the driveway. I trust the person changing my oil will put the cap back on the oil pan. I trust my hairdresser is not going to turn my hair blue. And I trust farmers. After all they too have families to feed.

I will acknowledge that living in California does come with its advantages - more than 350 advantages. That is the number of crops we grow here. But the strategy can work in any state and in any growing region.

This simple approach allows me to do less worrying and more of what is important – living life to the fullest and enjoying the simple pleasures like taking in-season local cucumbers and apricots and turning them into preserved delights to enjoy all year long!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Birthdays, Birthdays, and more Birthdays!

Remember when you were little and you hated to share your birthday with your sibling or cousin or with a holiday - because the dates were close. Funny story. My sister Christine hates pumpkin pie. Trouble is her birthday always falls on or around Thanksgiving. Gobble Gobble! It just makes sense. And it makes me laugh.

I digress. It would seem that during the last week in July and the first week in August my family should designate one day to celebrate all the birthdays in my life. You know - one big cake with everyone's name written on it. First was my little sister Amanda who today, August 9th, turns 30. Happy Birthday little sister and welcome to being old! :)

This is my nephew Trevor enjoying the pool.

Little Bro Ricky with his two nephews.

Then in 1988, my parents for whatever reason, thought we needed a brother and that added July 29 to the calendar as an important day. Happy Birthday Ricky. Jump forward a few years. My sister got married and added to the calendar my Bro-in-law's birthday on August 1. Happy Birthday Tim.

Proud Grandparents.

The last one was my doing because you see I married my best friend in 2008 and added Jake to the mix - August 8. Happy Birthday Baby!!

Nonetheless it does give us the chance and a really good excuse to get together. Last weekend Ricky, who moved to Texas to go to school, came home for his birthday. Of course, he managed to fit in a bull riding while he was here. How'd he do you ask? Let's just say he made a contribution to the winners proceeds that night. Oh well, better luck next time.

The great part about the weekend was Ricky finally got to meet his new nephew Clayton! Mom had a BBQ of course. Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, macaroni salad and homemade ice cream. YUM! It was lots of fun. And we got to see Ricky and spend time together as a family. I think I can even say we didn't even fight! Might need to write that down as a historical occasion. Anyways...It will be a while before we see him again - probably Christmas. But honestly it will be here before you know it.

This weekend (that would be the last two days) we celebrated Jake's Birthday. He didn't want a party so went to the Forebay at Oroville Lake, picked out a big tree, threw down a blanket, and had a great picnic. Clayton's first picnic actually. The weather was stunning considering its August. Who would have thought we would see 85 degree highs in August? I made a couple sandwiches and packed the ice chest. I even packed a homemade cupcake for the birthday boy. His request - yellow cake with white confetti candy icing.

I hope Clayton gets his fathers affinity for reading.

All in all the last two weekends were pretty special. I look forward to MANY more family birthdays and MANY more family picnics. Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c


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