Eat Mendocino

2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles


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Cucumber, tomato & basil salad for when quitting is not an option

I have a lot of silverware, way more than a single girl needs. So, when I get down to using a plastic fork, things have gotten bad.

I admit it: I would really like a hot bath and take-out tonight. Instead, I will throw together some food eventually clean my kitchen and blog. Such is the glamorous life of a locavore. There is no quitting.

Today was Farmers’ Market day, so I’ve been out and about all day, talking to people. schlepping signs, loading and unloading stuff from my “market mobile.” Now I’m home and before I can deal with my disaster of a sink, I need to eat. I’ve got a bunch of goodies from the market, and decide to throw together a quick summer salad.

Chopped cucmber, onion & tomatoes

Cucumber, tomato and basil salad

* I will leave out specific amounts, because that just depends on how much you want to make.

Diced cucumber

Halved cherry tomatoes

Chopped  red onion

Minced basil

Olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Splash of apple cider vinegar

(If I had thought of this before I devoured it, I also would have added some of the chevre that I bought today from Yerba Santa Goat Dairy…)

Toss it all together and enjoy. And, yes, I will be eating this with a plastic fork. Then, I am taking that bath.

Cucumber, tomato & basil salad


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This is what grocery shopping looks like

A locavore’s Saturday morning does not involve sleeping in. Mom and I were up early and on the road by 9 to do go on a scavenger hunt for groceries in the Anderson Valley.The Apple Farm

First stop was The Apple Farm in Philo. Pretty sure it’s the cutest farmstand of yummy in the world, with a beautiful pastoral backdrop of barn, apple orchards and the Navarro River nearby. Cuteness aside, Gowan and I had an apple cider vinegar emergency this week, and this is our supplier, so this was a serious visit. When I arrived there was only one bottle on the shelf, so I had to hunt someone down to open another case for us. Phew. Also picked up the first apples of this season!

Next we went to Gowan’s Oak Tree farm and I got a bag of yellow peaches and some walnuts.

Then, to retrieve milk and butter and pop in at the Boonville Farmers’ Market where I discovered some precious duck eggs and a free-range chicken. I also met a farmer who has five laying ducks for sale, so now I just need to convince Gowan to build a pond and a horse stable…

At the Farmhouse Mercantile in Downtown Boonville I discovered this useful vintage diagram. Must study up so I can impress Gowan with my horse knowledge as I fantasize about my future in the saddle.

Vintage drawing of horse anatomy

On the way home we stopped in at Balo Vineyards‘ tasting room and picked up a bottle of Pinot and some Pennyroyal Farms blue cheese. Next time, we’re staying to play bocce ball.

All this and we made it home in time to enjoy a lovely afternoon in Mendocino.

Mendocino headlands

Not exactly your typical stop for groceries, but a lovely way to spend a warm summer morning and a wonderful occasion to put on a sun dress. Instead of rushing through the store aisles in my pajamas, trying not to get stuck in conversations with acquaintances, I look forward to these food forays. You feel differently when you’re going right to the source for your survival; you look forward to the smiles that await you and the brief moment to connect to other human beings who have become part of the ecosystem of your life in this great unending cycle of food and compost.


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Harvest Market forges the path to local food

Welcome to the first installment of the “Eat Mendocino Daily Report,” and the first day of the second half of this yearlong locavore adventure. There is no better way to start a Monday than with a hearty breakfast. I cooked up some breakfast potatoes and two of Gowan’s quail eggs, served with homemade yogurt. Quail eggs are adorable and delicious, but it takes a lot of these to fill a girl up. Eat Mendocino Monday Breakfast

Most homesteaders are experiencing egg abundance at this time of year and eating them with every meal. But, since I’m allergic to chicken eggs, and I have no alternative feathered fowl of my own, I have to import them.  I have run out of duck eggs, and sadly most of Gowan’s quail were killed by a skunk or raccoon recently. One of the complications of the carless life is transporting a few key ingredients from A to B, over long windy roads. I do most of my shopping at the Farmers’ Markets every week, but there are some missing items. The egg beacon is shining, and there will be a balance of power on the morning breakfast plate soon.

This afternoon I went to a monumental and exciting meeting with Harvest Market, our largest locally-owned grocer on the Mendocino Coast. The meeting had been initiated by owner Tom Honer who expressed an interest in getting more local produce on the shelves. This is basically a locavore’s dream come true. Today I sat down with these fantastic folks to talk about the nuts and bolts of making it happen. From left to right, Produce Buyer Jesse, Farm to Fork Coordinator Susan Lightfoot, and Manager Tim Bosma.

Harvest Market Meeting

We discussed the challenges to integrating locally sourced food into the grocery store and how to work strategically with farmers and consumers to carve out a niche for locally produced goods. The idea is to synchronize with the Farmers’ Markets and line it up so that farmers can make deliveries when they come to market. The hope is this expands into a year-round program. Main concerns were:

  • Keeping prices good for farmers, competitive on the shelves and not to compete with the Farmers’ Market
  • The need to feature the stories of the local farms and their products (especially rare and unusual produce items)
  • How to differentiate local produce from the two main existing categories in the market: Organic vs. Conventional – creating a whole new concept for the shopper.
  • Finding and sourcing products from local farms – we can certainly help with that since we have become food ninjas!
  • Signage to highlight local products
  • Creating a clear structure for local producers that walk them through what is required to sell to Harvest, learning from what other stores have done such as Ukiah Natural Foods Cooperative and the Westside Renaissance Market
  • Possible farmer demos to build direct relationships

This is a groundbreaking conversation that will establish a foundation for bringing a significant amount of locally-produced food on to the shelves at the grocery store. As a locavore, one of the greatest challenges is the lack of access to local food, and the outrageous inconvenience of having to buy things at many different locations, during very specific times of day. Plus, many Farmers’ Markets are seasonal and there are months where it is tremendously challenging to track down some local sustenance. Integrating the local food producers into our markets is an essential first step toward a local food economy that can work with our crazy lives.

As Susan said, we can use this opportunity to challenge the consumer to think about “local first.” Instead of going to the store with a list of exactly what you want, this is a chance to see what’s available and start there. This is how we have built every meal since January 1st, and it is no small feat, but it is part of shifting our mindset from what we want to seeing what we already have.

I am wildly excited about this burgeoning effort and highly optimistic that the right people are behind it to actually make it happen. This would be a great time to send love letters to Tom Honer and Tim Bosma and applaud their efforts. Of course, I promised that Gowan and I would be there waving our Eat Mendocino flag when they launch their new local food section, and bring all our fans with us.


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Will work (really hard) for local food

This is not a glory moment. I don’t even want to write, but this is what it’s all about – the guts, too. I am sweaty, windblown, exhausted and my back aches. Before I explain, I need to say a genuine thank you to all of the wonderful people who supported my micro-fundraising campaign to purchase a bike trailer. I raised the full amount, and the only reason I haven’t bought the new trailer, yet is the very next day, someone generously donated one. Of course I would rather use something old than buy something new, but this bike carriage was designed for carrying children, not cargo, so I wasn’t sure it would work. Today, I found out.

I just got the trailer yesterday and didn’t have time to test it on my bike until this morning, before the market. I wasn’t sure exactly how it attached to the bike, but any way I tried, it just didn’t fit. Might be the size of my bike frame, or the tires. I tried to Google it at the last minute before abandoning the issue for the morning, and packing up what I could carry to the market, and walking. The wind was fierce today, blowing strong and knocking down signs and umbrellas and stirring everyone’s nerves. It was also the best market day so far of the season, probably due to it being Memorial Day Weekend. The tourists (and locals alike) really love the Fort Bragg Bakery’s cookies.

After the market, I was generously offered a ride home with four of the heaviest signs that are used to close the street. I came home to rest from the wind, do the farmers’ market accounting and work for a couple hours before dealing with the rest of the signs. My dog was cagey from being in all day, so i decided to walk her and pull the bike trailer by hand to see what we could haul on foot. I was hoping she would actually pull the thing for me, but she was immediately frightened and skeptical of the new bright yellow & red contraption and was trying to run away from it instead. As we started walking through the village, I noticed people looking at me and my trailer and my adorable pitbull like I was either homeless, or with amusement. At some point I will eventually laugh about this.

After picking up and loading the first wooden sign, foodevangelistsI realized I wouldn’t be able to fit many into the trailer, and also realized that my physical therapist nor my masseuse would approve of this endeavor. I was a clunky scene trying to navigate Mendocino’s non ADA approved sidewalks. I stopped to let some tourists pass and my dog licked their hands as if to say, “please adopt me, she’s gone mad.” I picked up two more signs, and then trudged home. My arms began to ache and my lower back was protesting. I am home now, awaiting Gowan’s arrival. We’re going to make dinner and I will bribe her with dessert to help me pick up the last few signs with her truck. I am wondering why sometimes the simplest things can be the most confounding and the most challenging. I don’t want a car, but I am pretty exasperated by the alternatives as well.

Once again I am left feeling that all of my problems would be solved by having a horse.  And ice cream, with fresh peaches.