Tag Archives: local eating

11 Ways to Eat Locally in Sonoma

 Farm Dinner

Here in California, I’d say that everyone who lives here could easily eat at least 70% of their diet locally. In fact it would be a darn shame if Californian’s didn’t. I mean this is a huge agriculture state, in most spots it’s actually hard to keep things from growing. And the beauty of it is that we can grow things nearly year round. So we should be eating locally. It just makes sense.

Luckily in the Sonoma Valley not only do we have farms aplenty for getting fresh produce, but we also have many fine people who craft their own food. I’m sure there are countless small food business that I am going to leave off my list, but these are a handful of places that we buy from:

Cheese

  • Vella Cheese – On weekend days we like to go for a walk after visiting our favorite bakery, along the bike path heading east. Right before you get to The Patch, a large vegetable farm on the north edge of town, you reach Vella Cheese Company. If you are lucky you’ll be there right when the milk truck pulls up to deliver a tank full of local milk. This is always a big hit with the boys. Ig Vella has been making cheese here for decades and has more awards tucked under his belt than you can imagine. Buying right from this old stone building and being able to walk home with a bag full of cheese and butter is always special for us.
  • Sonoma Jack – Although we usually will pick up Vella’s Jack over Sonoma Jack, I couldn’t forget to include this local favorite in our list. They carry just about every flavored variety of Jack that you could imagine, from Pesto Jack to Jalapeno Jack to Mediterranean Jack….the list goes on and on. If you go to their storefront on the Plaza you can sample them all for free.
  • Laura’s Chevre – Now housed in the old Clover Stornetta factory, when chevre is my craving (and when isn’t it, really?) Laura’s is my first choice.

Bread

  • Basque Boulangerie – Oh, this is our very favorite place to go on the weekends. It’s always busy. Packed with both locals and tourists, but we always go with a bakery fairy on our shoulder who clears out a table just in time for us to sit down. It’s an easy walk here and by the time we get here we’re starving for their delicious pastries and breads. Our favorites? The morning buns with all of their sugary carmely goodness and their cinammon raisin toast (two, inch and a half slices of bread served with plenty of butter). Just heaven.
  • Artisian Bakery – Whole wheat sourdough is our bread of preference when making toast or a sandwich and Artisian’s is incredible. If you stop by their storefront instead of picking up a loaf at the grocery store, you’ll save a good amount of money. Plus you can pick up one of their white chocolate macadamian cookies which will just make you cry and give up cookie making, they are so good.

Other Deliciousness

  • Tortilleria Jalisco – Sonoma has a high population of Mexicans, which is to our good fortune when it comes to food, among many other things. On West Napa Street, tucked away into the most bizarre of spots, between car washes, accountants and a shady cell phone store, is Tortelleria Jalisco. You can get both corn or flour tortillas which are fantastic. If you don’t have time to stop by their store, you can pick these up at Sonoma Market and if you are lucky they are still warm.
  • Wine – You don’t think I could write this post without mentioning wine, right? Being that the wine industry keeps our town thriving, I couldn’t leave this out. There are countless local wineries here, including Ravenswood which I used to design for (anyone seen their shiraz label? that was my illustration). They have beautiful tasting room and the people who work there are incredible.
  • Angelo’s Meats – When we get a craving for jerky or smoked anything, we head right over to Angelos. I’m not sure exactly where he gets his meat from, but he does all the smoking and drying himself.
  • Barking Dog Roasters – Oh, I know, the coffee beans of course aren’t local, but the roasting is, and isn’t that something worth writing about? This coffee is good, much better than Pete’s or any other ‘fancy’ coffee that we’ve tried. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact that it’s roasted just across town.

Produce

  • The Patch – When I first moved here, I stumbled upon The Patch within the first day or two. They have a simple stand that they sell their produce from all on the honor system. When I found that, I knew this was the place for me. A town with a farm in the middle of it that sells it’s goods on the honor system, yes this was the place for me. As I’ve come to find out, there are so many backyard gardeners here that setting up a cardtable full of veggies on your front lawn with an honor system pay method is common. Anyway, it’s painfully beautiful at the Patch, gorgeous veggies with vineyards and rolling hills in the background… It fills you full of Sonoma pride.
  • Oak Hill Farms – But just in case you didn’t get your fill of pastoral Sonoma beauty, head over to Oak Hill Farms on Highway 12, across from BR Cohn Winery. We love visiting the store in their old red barn, not only for their fantastic vegetables and flowers, but for the scenery. You must stop here if you are ever in town.

This is just a small list of local ways that you can eat here in Sonoma. But its our favorite way to eat. Many times I wish that we could live in a place where maybe the home prices were just a little more reasonable, or where the summertime heat wasn’t quite so intense. But when I think about the above list, I’m thankful and happy that I live here. But most of all, I’m hungry now. Enjoy your day, I’m off to find a snack.

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animal, vegetable, miracle

more food for thought

Before I would have normally thought twice about buying that green bell pepper that my husband requested from the store yesterday, I mean, I know they are out of season and this poor little pepper was carted all the way up from Chile via precious fossil fuels just to add a little life to our potato hash. But after finishing Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” last night, I feel really guilty.

We have always tried to eat with the seasons because we grow so much of our own fruit and veggies, but sometimes, like last night, you just have to have a bell pepper in the middle of March. Barbara and her industrious family of four commited to an entire year of eating locally and therefore in season. It was a very inspirational read, especially right at the beginning of gardening season. It’s one of those books that makes me want to immediately get out and start tomato, zucchini and basil seeds. Right now! Alas it’s a bit too early for us to do that. Maybe in the next couple of weeks.

Her casual and friendly writing style made me want to go visit her and walk through her garden with her. Meet her chickens and see her new turkey chicks. Her visit to the Farmer’s Diner in Vermont makes us daydream of opening such a restaurant here in Sonoma.

This quote by her husband Stephen is really eye opening:

Americans put almost as much fossil fuel into our refrigerators as our cars. We’re consuming about 400 gallons of oil a year per citizen – about 17% of our nation’s energy use – for agriculture, a close second to our vehicular use. Tractors, combines, harvesters, irrigation, sprayers, tillers, balers, and other equipment all use petroleum. Even bigger gas guzzlers on the farm are not the machines, but so-called inputs. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides use oil and natural gas as their starting materials, and in their manufacturing. More than a quarter of all farming energy goes into synthetic fertilizers.

But getting the crop from seed to harvest takes only one fifth of the total oil used for our food. The lion’s share is consumed during the trip from the farm to your plate. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1500 miles. In addition to direct transport, other fuel-thirsty steps include processing (drying, milling, cutting, sorting, baking), packaging, warehousing and refrigeration. Energy calories consumed by production, packaging and shipping far outweigh the energy calories we receive from the food.

A quick way to improve food-related fuel economy would be to buy a quart of motor oil and drink it. More palatable options are available. If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That’s not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast.

Steven L. Hopp

I don’t know if we’d be able to commit to a eating locally exclusively, but it sure makes me think. Think about finding meals that will accomodate whats in season, taking a second look at there the fruit is grown that I’m putting into my winter shopping bags, and of course it inspires me to garden!

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Filed under books, what we've learned