By Abbey Smith

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. But what would it be like on the bullseye diet as part of our local food experience? 

The Smiths enjoying a shared meal.

I spent the 4th in my hometown with friends and family. It was filled with parades, rodeos, BBQs, and sandwiches on the porch of Young’s Market in Taylorsville, along with swimming, hiking, running trails, and overall enjoyment of the long days of summer with friends and family. How would the holiday, and the 10 days away from home we were taking for the holiday, impact our local food experience? As a family that travels significantly for our work in regenerative agriculture, learning how to eat local on the road is critical.

Happy Fourth of July!

It only took a bit of planning and problem solving to eat within our local bullseye diet. 

Challenge 1: What to buy at the store 

Each trip I take to my parent’s home in Genesee Valley includes a restocking of their pantry and fridge. I want to help out and bringing healthy, new, fun food is a way I do this. I enjoy cooking for my family when I come home and prepare big meals. This is a great excuse to go grocery shopping at Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and Trader Joe’s in Reno, for really fun items like GT’s fermented, raw coconut yogurt (the turmeric ginger is amazing). After all, it is for the family. This year, I asked the question, “How can we bring or buy local food?” It was amazing how asking this question changed the trip to the store, and even impacted the decision of which store I visited. Instead of the convenient off-ramp location of Whole Foods, my daughter, my son and I drove our F250 truck through the one-way neighborhood streets of Reno to the Great Basin Community Food Co-op. Step one: get inside of a store that sells local food. Ok, done. Step two: find local food in that store, and resist the bright glow of temptation from the bananas, mangos and pineapples. My daughter and I helped each other with this. How easy would it be to grab a couple of bunches of bananas? My one-year-old son loves them. They are such an easy travel food. Yet, we walked on.  Maezy and I held hands as we made our way through the produce aisle (literally) and reminded each other to read the labels carefully before making our selections. This caught the attention of several fellow shoppers. Given the fact that it is the height of the summer in Northern Nevada, we did really well. Instead of bananas, we found local cherries grown in Northern Nevada and strawberries from California. We bought kale from the Reno area, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli from California. The sweet potatoes we picked out also came from California. All of the meat and eggs would come from my parent’s ranch so we didn’t have to worry about this–which is especially nice since these are often expensive grocery items. We bought Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil because we know them and their regenerative practices. 

We don’t often go to the grocery store, so Maezy gets a treat when we do go. This was the hardest selection of all. How do you find a local treat? Most of the packaged sweets, even in a natural food co-op, didn’t cut it. Finally, we found Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups and bought that because of their practices and their Boulder, Colorado location (which was closer than any other option). We left feeling good about bringing our bullseye diet with us and enjoyed our time at the local food co-op. Note: I called local farms in the Plumas County area to see if we could purchase local veggies, but did not hear back from them, so we opted to purchase veggies at the Great Basin Community Food Co-op. 

Challenge 2: Where to get local milk for our raw milk formula recipe

The main ingredient in my son’s raw milk formula, is…raw milk. Where was I going to get raw milk? My mother’s friend has goats so I called her to see if I could buy some milk from her, but she was out of town. Surprisingly, no one else in my parent’s circle of rancher/farmer friends here in Indian Valley milked (at least that my parents knew of). When I was almost starting to panic, my father quietly got out the silver milk pail and promised to separate the drop calves at the ranch from their milk cow mother so that her bag would fill up and she could be milked in the morning. The next morning, just in time, he brought home a gallon of fresh milk and cream for baby Sam. It was a special treat that I will always remember with gratitude. It wouldn’t have happened unless we were committed to raw, local milk for our baby. I realized that in our quest for efficiency, we often pay the price for it in special moments that take time and effort to cultivate. 

Challenge 3: What to eat at parties 

Small towns are famous for potlucks. This is a social gathering where the host usually prepares the main dish and guests bring side dishes and desserts. At the 4th of July potluck we attended, we prepared my husband’s famous meatballs in red sauce. We used beef from my parent’s ranch, garlic, rosemary, oregano from my mom’s garden, peppers from a neighbor’s garden and canned tomatoes. The meatballs were a hit. The cast iron pan that carried them was wiped clean when we left the party. Do we eat food at parties? Yes. Do we enjoy it? Yes. A shared meal with friends and family is a special gift that we accept with gratitude. 

Summer fun at Springs Ranch.

These are three of the challenges we faced while staying true to our Local Food Experience while on the road. What are your favorite hacks for eating local while traveling?

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