Today’s Seasonal Pantry, which you can find here, is a somewhat cerebral exploration of what it means to eat locally and seasonally, a topic that I think most of us consider now and then and, these days, with increasing frequency. In the column, I tell you what I think. Now I want to know what you think. Care to share? I do hope so. I’d love to get a good conversation going.
There has been a lot of exploration of this topic recently by a variety of writers including Michael Pollen and Barbara Kingsolver but it is also something I’ve explored for decades. I sometimes get annoyed with writers who explore the topic, as many act as if the entire concept was created the moment they thought of it. The best don’t do this, of course, but there are enough that do that I thought I’d toss it into the conversation hopper.
When I first moved to Sonoma County as a young mother with young daughters, I came in part to attend Sonoma State University and in part because I had always wanted to live here. SSU was my way to do it, much to the annoyance of some of my professors, who grew frustrated with me when I refused to consider the possibility of employment out of the area. Sonoma is my home, I told them, and I have no intention of leaving, ever.
Back then, I sought out local foods because that was how I wanted to live. I shopped at Miller’s Drive-In Dairy in Petaluma, where I bought raw milk in glass bottles. I went to the Sonoma Cheese Factory and Vella Cheese Company in Sonoma for both cheeses and butter and I had picnics with my girls at Marin French Cheese Company and at wineries, such as Buena Vista. When I wanted salmon, I drove to Bodega Bay and bought it direct from a fisherman. For meat, I shopped at Batemon’s, also in Petaluma. There were several farm stands that no longer exist and that’s where I got produce.
I found supermarkets, with their bold signs and displays and announcements designed to capture your attention instantly, overstimulating and sometimes I worried that I was agoraphobic. More than once, I simply left a half-filled shopping cart in an aisle and made my escape before a full-blown anxiety attack set in. I still find supermarkets, especially national chain stores, vaguely disturbing.
So, how about joining me in this discussion? What do you think about this topic and what is your experience? After reading today’s column, one reader has emailed me several times, in part to say he groaned when he read the column. He then went on to describe all the reasons he completely disagrees with me, especially about the value of farmers markets. This is just what I’ve hoped for, a conversation, but he hasn’t wanted to post his comments publicly. What about you?