From Farm to Table?

There is a food phrase used in the media that always catches my attention: ‘From Farm to Table’. Sounds simple enough right? You collect the eggs to make your omelet, you pick the lettuce to the make your salad and you milk the goat to make your cheese? If only it were that pastoral... With the all too prevalent foodborne illness scares, the term has come to mean the governmental process of tracing a contaminated tomato back to its agricultural source; Or in Michael Pollan’s case, tracing a McDonald’s hamburger back to a commodity cornfield in Iowa; Or a rustic, familiar allusion to family-run, local ranching in The Niman Ranch Cookbook: From Farm to Table. While I feel it is admirable that the term is helping people really consider where their food comes from, for me personally, it alludes to the very literal sense of the phrase: From a farm to my table, with no extensive journey in between. In true investigative form, I set out immerse myself in my romantic perception of this phrase.

Camp Joy Camp Joy is a small non-profit organic farm operated for educational purposes and supported by Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes. The farm is 4.5 charming acres of organic fruit, vegetables, flowers, goats and chickens in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I just happen to visit at peak fruit time.


In addition to eating fresh peaches and plums right off the trees, I was treated to fresh eggs for breakfast and homemade herbed goat cheese made from Camp Joy's happy and productive goats. Camp Joy strives to educate others on how to live more sustainable lives, and after my amazing visit, I felt compelled to start immediately.

Country Flat Farm Country Flat Farm is one of the most endearing places I have ever been. And let me explain "endearing": The single family run farm sits atop a mountain overlooking the Big Sur coast. The views are absolutely spectacular. It is no wonder the energetic lemon trees and fruitful (ha) apples trees happily bask in the sun there. The home on the property is completely solar powered and built from materials that came from the land on which it stands. The farm is run by a remarkable family that doesn't take an inch of beautiful land for granted and through sustainable life practices, hope to make a difference. I spent the day digging out carrots, snipping off fresh bunches of lettuce and filling my shirt full of fresh meyer lemons (making sure I only took as many as I could consume.)

Kendall Farms

What did I learn? First of all, there is something kind of sexy about dirt under your fingernails at the end of the day on a farm. Also, food just tastes better when it comes directly from the farm to your table. There are many ways our population can easily be more conscientious eaters. Buy local. Look into starting a CSA box for your own home. For a great listing of Bay Area CSA box options check out this comprehensive list on Om Organics website.

Happy Eating!

Veggie box

Downsizing = Greensizing

When my husband and I made a move across the country to check out a new place and get a new perspective, little did we know that it would turn into a great exercise in greensizing.  In the process of downsizing and choosing a new community in which to live and work, we found ourselves inadvertently reducing our carbon footprint exponentially. I say inadvertently a bit tongue in cheek, as my husband and I have both been working in the green space for decades.  However, our initial choices of a town, apartment, and amenities were instigated by our desire to keep things simple and downsize financially, not to go uber green.  We achieved both in the process. Below is a list of choices we made, and the green benefits we gained along the way.

Location: Small town vs. Big City We like small towns and we like to be able to walk and bike everywhere. This was our desire to slow down the rat race, and maintain a high quality of life. We found a small town in the northwest in which to settle and explore.

Green benefits:  Small means that everything is close at hand.  Not only can we walk to dine and shop, but to do any errands necessary.

Small in our case also means a tight-knit community, one that supports local agriculture and business, and one which celebrates that every week with a farmers market featuring many delicious organic options. Boy we love berry season!

It turns out we also picked a town with great public transportation, a well established and extensive system of trails in a community that values greenspace and open space.  This means that our recreation opportunities are right outside our door as well.

An added benefit is that we are on an Amtrak route so travel to two big international cities for culture and entertainment is green, economical and efficient.

Housing: Apartment vs. House Due to the fact that we still own our home in another state, we wanted to rent while we check out our new location.  We chose an apartment over a house or townhome to keep our monthly cash commitment to a minimum. (It also didn’t hurt that it has killer views and is close to everything we needs from groceries to post office to great restaurants.)

Green benefits: An apartment means less area to heat than a house which means using less energy and lower utility bills!  We also chose one with western exposure and waterfront views.  This means we have great passive solar lighting and heating, again, reducing the bills.  Our bills are one quarter of what they were for our house.  It also helps that we moved to a slightly warmer climate, which in itself reduces the need for fossil fuels.

Additional unforeseen benefits of living in smaller quarters means that we have limited storage space so we buy less, spend less, consume less and waste less.  Less space also means we need less furniture so our moving costs and fuel cost to move it were small.  We did purchase a couple of items and were thrilled to be able to find furniture made in by local companies, thus supporting the economy and avoiding the fuel costs of products shipped from elsewhere.

Work:  Consulting vs. Corporate Life My husband and I are fortunate enough to have a few years of the working world under our respective belts so consulting is our current preferred mode of making a living. This has afforded us the flexibility to make a geographic move as we can live anywhere.

Green benefits:  With advanced technology, ie, email and phones, consulting is a breeze. No commuting except to the occasional client meeting is necessary for either of us, therefore, we are not polluting the planet every day to get to work.  We are also saving money and are not currently stressed out about gas prices.  Ok, I lied - I hate gas prices going up anyway.

A strange green benefit is that by working from home, we have smaller wardrobe requirements and therefore, consume less and do less laundry, thus saving energy.

Climate:  Consistent Temperate vs. Changing Alpine We moved from a seasonal alpine climate with potentially harsh winter conditions to a temperate coastline to experience a water-side lifestyle for a change.

Green benefits:  In addition to the aforementioned energy savings due to a milder climate, we are spending less on clothes.  One season fits all when it comes to what to wear.  The need for fewer clothes also means fewer shopping sprees which translates into less gas used.

Another benefit of a temperate climate is that we have shifted from a semi-arid climate with water restrictions, water scarcity, and limited agriculture, to one rich in water, agriculture and a great local food supply. Sustainability is inherent in such a location.

In addition to finding the fun in downsizing and greensizing and learning new ways to do it every day, we are thoroughly enjoying a fun, simplified new lifestyle in a new place.  Our biggest green vice is the occasional extra flight to see friends, family and clients.  But we can live with that knowing we have been able to make easy green changes in our every day life. Who knew going cheap would mean growing greener?