We continued to head north from the RV docking point we used for San Francisco. We’d been so busy with national parks and city touring that we were looking forward to some downtime. Our first stop was two weeks at a campground/RV park on our Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass in Oregon House, CA- about 1 hour south of Chico. This is rural America. The drive in was absolutely beautiful and the country began to remind us distinctly of New England.
Wherever we are, I always check localharvest.org for local farms, farmstands, and farmers’ markets. Since we eat paleo, fresh meats, eggs, vegetables, and fruits are our staples. As you can imagine, this can get tricky. No rice to fill a 3rd of the plate. No beans to bulk up a meal. No potatoes in the storage bin (anymore) to tide us over until we find a decent farmstand or market. It takes some diligence and planning to ensure that our food supply is plentiful and sustained but it’s something we enjoy (the philosophy and the flavors) and believe in so it’s well worth the effort. And there is less guilt when I buy those inorganic strawberries because I know our bodies are strong and healthy and can tolerate the occasional insult.
We’re arriving in the north country a little early for the beginning of the farmers’ markets season so I was hoping I might find a local farm for meat, eggs, and seasonal produce. My freezer stock of grassfed ground beef and cuts that I loaded up on in Tucson from the University of Arizona was waning.and eating grocery store meat is really a last resort. We lucked out! I found Oregon House Farm owned and operated by Jenny Cavaliere just 2 miles away – a cooperative member of High Sierra Beef who also operates a weekend farm store out of her 100 year old barn. My e-mail inquiry to Jenny resulted not only in stocking our freezer but also a personal tour of her farm – 5 separate pieces of land – which included bee hives, calving cows (and calves!), chickens, sheep, and a peek into the life of a sustainable farmer. Jenny also invited Sadie to sell her handmade felted pins, hair ties, beaded earrings, and flaxseed packs at the farm store the following weekend.
Talk about knowing where your food comes from… Jenny names all of her cows, walks among them in the fields, and they come down to greet her when she calls. We talked freely about the processes and logistics of sustainable and humane breeding, feeding, and, yes, even slaughtering. We even walked through the metal corral and down the ‘hall’ used to keep the cows still and safe for procedures and onto trailers for travel.
You know, traveling is only partly about the places. That’s how it starts. The reason it continues and is fueled is the people. Jenny is one of those people- who would take an entire afternoon to hang around in pastures sharing her passion with a family just traveling through. Chris and I have been tossing around the idea of farming. Jenny’s honesty about it’s 24/7 tether has put our dreamy prospect in check. But this close connection has made us even more dedicated to knowing our farmer and their practices as much as possible. Truth be told, there are a lot of different phrases used on packaging that are used to airbrush dirty or unhealthy practices. My decoder ring can’t keep up with the myriad of ways that these practices get off on technicalities or fuzzy language and into the market.
Here are a couple of articles I like about grass-fed vs. grain fed beef:
Health Benefits of Grass Farming
The Differences Between Grass-Fed Beef and Grain-Fed Beef
And one to ponder about the ethics of eating meat:
Is Eating Meat Ethical?