Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eating good in the neighborhood...

(October 8th, 2007)

...and I don't mean freaking Applebee's either.

Our local indie grocery stores, El Super and Island Pacific, are bringing in some pretty decent produce for reasonable prices. Even Food 4 Less, owned by the Kroger's juggernaut, is in fairly good shape now.

California is lucky in that back in the day we were the breadbasket for the entire US. Now we are the breadbasket for ourselves and for the Pacific Coastal states. It's not cost-effective to do the kind of coast-to-coast transportation California agriculture used to do, so now it all flows along the backbone rail routes linking the Pacific states.

I hung out with the manager of Island Pacific at the nearby Goldilocks Bakery. I plied him with strong Filipino coffee and pastry, and he let me know how the new market conditions work.

"Agricultural trade runs on barter now. Someone in Washington State has apples, and they want onions from Bakersfield. OK, we trade you your apples for our onions. Or table grapes for cheese. Or whatever. It's only when it gets Downtown when actual money changes hands. It might get sticky next year with the current situation continuing, the cost of oil, water, etcetera. Although a big bonus to all this is that more people are farming organically or semi-organically. Connections are essential: a lot of times we have to act on word of mouth."

So this is where things are at: produce is easy to get on this coast. Next year's crops are more organic than ever. I haven't mentioned meat: meat is still hard to find, as is fish and eggs and fowl. We've been living a lot on vegetable protein: beans and brown rice, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, and somehow or another I will have to get used to eating Tofu.

However, turkey time is drawing near, and turkeys are coming into the stores at actually fairly reasonable prices. There are several turkey processors located in Sun Valley, one town over from us, and so they are happy to sell to locals cheap. You see taco trucks and tamale carts on the streets again, and tacos de pavo and tamales de pavo are available everywhere. However, you might be taking your life in your hands if you eat street tamales, so best to get them from one of the restaurants that are still up and running.

Gobble, gobble, gobble. Gooble gobble we accept you, one of us, one of us.


Shannon said...

I got a line about California produce today too. I'm glad to see that both ends of the West Coast are looking to stick together... keep the faith!


Michelle Klein-Hass said...

Actually, your post is what motivated me to inquire about what's going on down here. Thanks for your sleuthing. !Viva Pacifica Libre!