Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Get Good Food in the Country

To the reader, this post will really depend on what you consider "good food". I like having access to fresh organic produce, pasture-raised meat, nut butters, coconut milk, Tulsi tea, health food/junk food like Coconut Bliss and Green and Black's dark chocolate, kombucha, and the list goes on. Some fresh, local food as well as some store-bought items…
It's easy to walk into a Whole Foods, Fred Meyer or New Seasons (Portland area) and have the best of both worlds at your finger tips, but these are not easily accessible to folks living far from large cities that cater to these natural grocery stores. It's been about five years since I have lived close to a large town and I've had to get creative to meet my personal food needs. Here are some ideas, especially for those of you just recently new to a country, ocean or mountain side that does not seem to have the quality of food you desire.

1. Farmer's Markets- unlike the city, they may be small, but most likely prices will be drastically lower since farmer's are not usually driving long distances and the booth fees are probably lower. There may not be many vendors selling "certified organic" produce or meat but ask the farmer about their practices. The organic label can be costly and time-consuming for many small farmers who do actually cultivate food and animals with superb standards.

2. Azure Standard, A Bulk and Organic Food Delivery service- This is one of the best resources for those living far out. Typically, there will be at least one drop-off point in your small town, that receives an Azure Standard delivery once a month (or sometimes bi-monthly). The minimum order for that drop-off point is about $500. If ten people ordered at $50 per household you would qualify for a delivery! It's not difficult to spend this considering they have everything from Coconut Bliss ice-cream to paper towels to organic red bell peppers to compostable diapers. Really, they have everything! It's also a nice way to meet people in your town that have similar food values. Just call Azure's main phone line to see if there is already an established group in your area.

3. Craigslist- If you live in a pretty small town, you may not be able to find the exact location on craigslist, but if you go to the site of the nearest big city, type in the search box the name of the town you live in. You might find a lot of used cars, ATV parts, and hunting supplies for sale and you may also find some food gems, like fresh eggs, pastured meat, fresh raw sheep or goat milk, honey, kraut cabbage…Again, another way to meet people in your community committed to growing quality, nutritious food.

4. Grow a garden- Ok, that's kind of an obvious one but sometimes not implemented. If you're someone who really likes brussel sprouts and can't find them at the local grocery store, just grow those…or whatever else suits your fancy. You don't have to put up an acre of fencing and do major tilling. One simple raised bed with some compost and a few seeds could be an easy way to have a crisp zucchini or head of lettuce rather than paying for an (often time) wilted one from the store.

5. Amazon or other online retailers- This is a new source for me but I'm really loving it! I have found the best deal on nuts, teas, chocolate, and other great food from Amazon. Having an Amazon Prime Membership is what inspired food shopping on the internet. It does seem strange and definitely not a ecologically sound practice amidst the revival to eat local food but I do make this choice occasionally in order to have some nutritiously dense food and tasty treats that cannot otherwise be accessed where I live.

6. Trade or Barter- maybe you don't grow or raise any kind of food but your neighbor down the road raises cows for meat. Are you a plumber by trade, a massage therapist, can you watch their children? In essence, what do you have to offer to your community in exchange for filling your shelves and freezer with delicious food.

7. The local grocery store- If they do not have carry healthy choices of food you desire or even the ever-so tempting health food/junk food, ask to speak with the manager or the employee who orders the food for the store. Often times, they can add your requested food to an existing order with a large company like Sysco. It's worth a shot!

I wish I had a photo of Coconut Bliss to fully encapsulate what I mean by "good food" : )