The newest food concept to be gaining ground is that of buying food that has been locally grown. This is not a new concept; just new to our generation. The inspiration for this post was my husband telling me about an interesting website called www.100milediet.org. The website chronicles a couple who ate nothing but food grown within 100 miles of their home for one year. They saved money, lost weight, ate fresher food, supported their local economy and helped the environment -- all in one fell swoop.
Getting our children in touch with Mother Earth, specifically teaching them where the food they put in their body comes from, is a great investment in the future. THEIR future. It should be easy, since kids naturally love learning about gardening, farms and moo cows. It's us parents who need to expose them.
As a kid growing up in suburbia, I remember how exotic it seemed that our neighbors had milk delivered to their door by the local dairy. I don't see that anymore, even tho I can smell the nearby dairies from my house some days. Over time, food travels from further and further away. As a result, packaging and processing has increased.
I didn't know much about food until I had trouble getting pregnant and did some research. We discovered how important food can be to the function of basic organs and systems. Mr. Big is a product of that knowledge. I suppose it's not suprising that when we go to the grocery store, Mr. Big has become known for grabbing a box of food and assuring me that he's "just checking the ingredients." It makes me laugh, but I'm also glad to be instilling that awareness. Even before he can read!
Okay, enough preaching here. If you want to feel guilty, tho, go to the "foot print" website where they estimate how many acres of land are required to support your lifestyle. After answering a few questions, I was told my lifestyle requires 17 acres to sustain it. The website points out that the world's resources only work out to 4.5 acres per person. 17 is better than the average, but still leaves lots of room for improvement. Check it out here, if you dare: www.myfootprint.org.
I have to thank my friend Joy, mother of two boys under 5, for her contributions to this post. She used to live in Pomona, but now she lives in [bringing voice to a whispery growl] Upland. She's still a Pomona person at heart. She's been calling me to rattle off various websites with information on eating locally. Additionally, she's been contacting local farms to find out what they offer and whether they sell to the public. There's hope that we can find local suppliers of things most of us would like to buy all the time: like organic cow and goat's milk and dairy products, hormone/antibiotic-free meats, and organic or pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.
Henry's Market has just this week started labeling certain foods as local, which helps out a lot when you are shopping with an impatient (okay, bratty) child. I think this type of labeling is the way of the future, which means the larger chain stores will start doing it in another 5 years or so. If you haven't been to Henry's, they are in Chino Hills and Rancho. They offer healthier options than the major chains at moderate prices. Having once shopped at Whole Foods myself, Henry's proves that a health store doesn't have to be a rip off. They always have good sales on produce. Our favorites there are the nitrate-free chicken hot dogs and the Apline Village cinammon bread. (oh and hey, it's locally made). As a parent, I appreciate Henry's playcar cart. I'm disappointed that they have never replaced their childsize shopping cart that someone stole a while back. Here's their website: http://www.henrysmarkets.com/app/henrys/index.php
To find local ranches and farms, stay posted to this site. You can also go to the following website to check for local resources: www.localharvest.org
To read about an organic farm in El Monte staffed by innercity kids, go to www.ewent.org
To read about a farming family in Pasadena who produces 6,000 pounds of food a year on one tenth of an acre, go to their ultra beautiful website (they're in Pasadena after all) at www.pathtofreedom.com. They only spend $50 to $100 on food other than what they raise at home. Wow. You're right, Joy, they have great links on this page. And great articles too, like this one entitled "Baking your own bread for the clueless but curious": http://pathtofreedom.com/resources/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=220&Itemid=51
Path to freedom also sells an $18 book called Greenopia, the Los Angeles edition, with local information on "green" businesses. The book provides help trasitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle. You can also just go to www.greenopia.com.
Joy recently went berry picking with her boys at Riley Farm in OakGlen. I personally don't know if I dig the Patrick Henry theme, but berry or apple picking as a day trip sounds like fun. Their website is at www.rileysfarm.com. Seems there's some sort of family fued going on between different factions of the Riley family in Oak Glen, so be sure you have the right directions. Seems it all started over the muskets.
The town of Pomona is home to trailblazers in the area of sustainability. In part, because of Cal Poly Pomona's Regenerative Studies Program.
There are three houses in Pomona's Lincoln Park which are dedicated to environmental sustainability and responsibility. The occupants of the homes are graduates of Cal Poly's Regenerative Studies Program. Collectively, they call themselves the Regenerative Co-op of Pomona. In addition to their gardens and projects like their grey water pond, they host community events on sustainability. Their website is at www.regen.org. You can sometimes see them driving around in their electric cars. The Pomona regens made the news back in 2003 when member and peace activist Josh Connole was wrongfully arrested and accused of being the West Covina Hummer Arsonist. In the end, someone else was charged for the crime. As for whatever became of Josh? In 2005, he was awarded $100,000 for all that he went through. One of the FBI agents admitted that she had told the arresting officer that there was not cause to arrest Josh, yet the officer did so anyways. It appears that Josh was targeted because of his political and environmental views. Pretty scarey. As of 2005, Josh was reported to be living in Oregon. I met him briefly on a Pomona home tour. He seemed soft spoken, funny and polite as we shared a few words about one home's bad remodel job.
The Pomona Regens are likely a great resource for information on local food and lifestyle, since that's their thing. Hopefully one of their members will log on the blog and contribute some knowledge.