Sunday, January 12, 2014

Building a Food Community and Buying Direct!

With the recent salmonella scare within the western states last year and the chicken's bacteria getting hundreds of people sick, I'm reassured to keep forging ahead toward eliminating the grocery store and buying my food directly from the farm - when I can't grow it myself. It seems lately my network for local fare has expanded and I've made great connections with folks who supply customers with free-range, organic-fed chickens, whey fed pork and various apples, pears, cabbage and even olive oil! I love this little community we've fallen head over heals with. I don't care who you are, when you grow your own food or know exactly where your food is coming from, there's a certain gratification you get and - yes, maybe even a little pretention. But once the ball starts rolling, you can't help but roll with it.

That's why I started gardening. It all began when I planted that first seed and something so big and bountiful grew from that one little grain-of-salt size seed. Okay, maybe a pepper, but still - it was transforming. I realize now why my grandparents would get so dreamy when walking us kids through their garden explaining how big this was or that was: raspberries, rhubarb, hazelnuts and cucumbers. I thought it was so cool then, but didn't know how much until I planted my first seed.

It's no easy feat to plan a family's meal around sustainable, non-factory-made produce and meat. I always prided myself with making homemade meals and never from boxes. But life gets in the way sometimes and that box of macaroni and cheese or slip through a drive through happens and I didn't (don't) always have the skills to figure out an alternative regardless of my 'homemade meals' mentality. But it's what we work toward and we keep getting better each day.

My little food community has grown significantly these past few months. I host a Seattle drop off site of raw honey created a few neighborhoods away and I get satisfaction from allowing people to access this treat. Another neighbor hooked up with a farm for various apples, pears, cabbage, onions, potatoes and mid-to-late harvest olive oils in our state. Who knew! I have a farm less than two hours away who delivers organic, pasture grazed chickens to Seattle's Capitol Hill and a farm in Quilcene whose 16-year-old son raises register Angus grassfeed beef and sells at $5.00 per pound to support his future college education in cattle management - at WSU no less. We also have dairy delivered weekly from a farm started in the 1920s.

This is cool. Everything about it.
Do you know who your farmer is?

Getting started is tough. Talk to your farmers markets and get info on the farms and what types of services or CSA's they have available during the off season. I've got most of my connections through a local web group called Seattle Farm Co-op who offers members a 'Market Day' where farmers promote their goods and a warehouse where you can buy goods at a lower cost . Another cool sight is Farmstr which connects you with local farms in your area and lists what each farm has available!

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