In the months since my 100-mile diet challenge I’ve stayed to eating about 70-80% of my diet from California sources — often within that magic 100 mile range. I’ve had the best luck in getting local produce but I have managed to find local honey, garbanzo beans, walnuts, goat cheese and eggs. Carbohydrates, outside of fruit or vegetable form, still allude me. The famed La Brea Bakery gets the flour for their bread though ConAgra (why??) and the closest I can get for rice is 415 miles away. In all my searching though, I have managed to find some really amazing California products which I’m sharing with you below. These aren’t seasonal items per say, but there are staple foods that I think are better bought within a 400 mile range than a 4,000 mile one. If you hear of great California foodstuffs please send the info my way — especially if it’s small, local businesses. I like to help support them most of all.
On the side of big business I do have to give three cheers for Whole Foods. They are not only carrying a decent range of California produce items, but they actually mark them so they stand out and even have touching little blurbs about the farms they come from. Not quite the same as your local Farmer’s Market but not bad for a big chain. I was able to find California olive oil, cheese and milk here. All 400 miles or so away but better than something that came from Wisconsin. To top it off – the staff here was extraordinarily helpful and were all quick to help me figure out where things come from or went to find the answer if they didn’t know.
Here are some of my California discoveries…..
Napa Valley Naturals: olive oil and vinegars (check the labels because not all their products are California grown — there are some imported items). www.napavalleytrading.com
Klausesbees: honey. All from Los Angeles area hives. www.kausesbees.com
Suncoast Farm’s of CA: beans and produce. Check what you’re buying from them as their Late Spring and summer crops are grown in the central coast region of California; winter crops are grown in California’s Imperial Valley; early spring and late fall crops are grown in Yuma, Arizona. I got garbanzo beans from them at the Yamashiro Farmer’s Market which they gentleman told me were grown 118 miles away. www.suncoastfarms.com
Straus Family Creamery: organic milk, ice cream, yogurt, butter. Family owned dairy located north of San Francisco. www.strausfamilycreamery.com There is another company called Cowgirl Creamery that uses the Straus family milk to create some great cheeses. You can find them at www.cowgirlcreamery.com
Santa Cruz Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter, juices and all kinds of other treats. Read the labels and double-check what’s from where. The peanut butter I have confirmed is from California grown peanuts. And it’s really good – good enough I’ll now be using this in my raw chocolate peanut butter cups. www.scojuice.com
Lundberg Family Farms: organic brown rice and brown rice products. Located in Richvale California. www.lundberg.com.
Sterling Vineyards: a Napa Valley based vineyard that makes some organic wines (though not all of them all). They have an organic Cabernet Sauvignon they were selling through Trader Joe’s for $5 a bottle but I haven’t seen there in a bit which is a shame. www.sterlingvineyards.com