Sign up to receive a weekly peek inside our kitchen.

Sourcing Food Ingredients Today

Debra Redalia


These are the actual strawberries we buy every week from the farmer’s market, as long as they are available. They are ripe and sweet—just picked. Supermarket strawberries don’t come close to these beauties.

This may be the most important post you read on this blog—where to obtain wholefood ingredients.

We shop in a variety of places.

First, if we can eat from our garden, we eat from our garden. All last summer I grew lettuce and tomatoes and herbs and had a salad from my garden every day for lunch. This year we are doubling the size of our vegetable garden and will learn how to grow autumn and winter crops in addition to our summer favorites. We also need to learn how much food we need to actually feed ourselves as much as we can, and learn how to do that.

Second, we go to two farmer’s markets—one just downtown where we live and another in Santa Rosa, our nearby “big city.” Each has different farmers, so we get more variety, and it’s only about a 20 minute drive. One on Saturday and one on Sunday. Saturday is the beginning of our food shopping week, so we buy from the two farm markets first and then brick-and-mortar markets.

But we also buy directly from organic farmers, both locally and by mail. We have a program here called Sonoma Farm Trails that lists the farms in the county and provides maps that tell when their farm stands are open. A couple of times a year they have open farm weekends where more farms are open. One of our favorites is Bohemian Creamery which raises goats and makes cheese. They are open every weekend and on many Saturday mornings, we stop there for goat milk frozen yogurt that is a different flavor every week. I love this place. Their cheeses are on the cheese plates of top San Francisco restaurants, and we just go buy it right from the source.

Then almost daily we go to a produce stand down the street, so close we can ride there on our tandem bike. They have fresh organic and non-organic produce every day, plus packaged natural and organic foods. The difference between Andy’s Produce and a natural food store is they are family-oned and have been in business for more than 50 years, so they have a lot of connections in the community. The food is more local, delivered to the store more immediately, and costs less. And every morning they take the “day-old” produce out of the bins and put it on the discount cart at about half-price or less. So if you go early enough, you can get gourmet mushrooms for $2-3 a pound. We never pay full price for mushrooms and we’re buying trumpets and hen-of-the-woods. We forage Andy’s discount cart as if it were a forest, It’s our “local environment.” And they have the best organic coffee.  It’s a great way to start the day.

If we still need something, we go to Pacific Market, which is an independently-owned grocery that’s been here for more than 70 years. This is the “gourmet” market where they sell specialty foods like free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and pork; local farmed oysters and line caught salmon; house-made sausages; and tumbled, marinated meat. They make fresh sushi right before your eyes and things like that. When the local Dungeness crab are in season, they “fire up the only authentic crab pots still in use north of San Francisco.” Again, it’s right down the street (in the opposite direction from Andy’s). Because the prices are higher we only buy things we really like that we can’t get other places, like fermented greek olives and heirloom dried beans.

Our local supermarket is Safeway. They actually sell a lot of organic produce and have their own brand of prepared organic foods at supermarket prices. We buy roasted garlic organic pasta sauce there and they will occasionally have things like shelled heirloom walnuts and pecans.

We also have two natural food stores downtown, which I’m sure I will write about in a separate blog. They are as different as night and day. One is amazon-owned Whole Foods and the other is employee-owned. I don’t even want to get started writing about this here. More to come in a separate post soon.

So that’s where we buy our food, for the most part. If we’re driving around in a new place, we’ll often stop and see what food is available, and often buy some to bring home.

I think I live in food paradise.


Where to Find Food During the Covid-19 Pandemic

After about six weeks of covid-19 pandemic confusion, just sourcing food at all has become more and more difficult and may become more difficult still.

I just heard on the news, for example, that a shortage of meat is anticipated starting this weekend because of the shutdown of meatpacking facilities due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The whole food supply chain is a mess at the moment, so who knows what food will be available from day to day or week to week.

So I want to tell you what to do for more food security.

Right now start becoming aware of what food you can buy locally.

First, find your local farmer’s market.

See if you have a Community Supported Agriculture program nearby, where you purchase shares in the farmer’s harvest and get a box or basket of whatever the harvest is every week.

And start planting a garden if you don’t already have one. Larry and i usually have some kind of summer garden, but this year, we are doubling the size and his sister is planting the biggest garden she has ever had.

When you see on the news that there are problems with the food supply, what they are talking about is food grown on industrial farms for the commercial food market, not the food for the consumer market.

Summer is coming. Learn to can and store food for winter.

Right now it’s just all uncertain, so the more you know about where to buy locally-grown food the better.

But even if the food supply was totally stable, it’s best to grow as much food as you can so you can eat it “the shortest distance from plant to mouth.”

And it’s always best to eat foods grown in your local ecosystem. That’s the way Nature designed it: earth—plants—animals—humans. All in one place.