Monday, September 22, 2008

Buying Into the Good Stuff

I recently joined the Oklahoma Food Coop. Some of my cooking friends have long sung the praises of buying locally grown, organic food. Months ago my daughter sent me the link to the coop website and enthusiastically encouraged me to join. I wiped off my Cheetos-stained fingers and typed my response to her: "It costs too much--it's not worth it."

I don't remember exactly why I decided to revisit the link; but once I did I was drawn to the list of producers and their descriptions of their products. Who can resist "no bugs allowed", "free-ranging", "certified organic", "all-natural", "wild-picked", "hand-crafted", "heirloom", and the all-important "grown or made in Oklahoma". I joined on the spot.

Larry Ressler of Ressler Farms, new to the coop this month, nicely sums up what makes buying from the coop such a beneficial experience:
I strive to practice truly sustainable agriculture. My use of the land does not consume or destroy its inherent value, but attempts to improve it while producing clean and wholesome food raised in a humane manner.
After I purchased eggs from Ressler Farms, Mr. Ressler emailed me to make sure his eggs were well received. When I contacted him with my praise for his eggs, he responded: "For me, it's not about the money. It's about doing my part to produce local, clean, humane and wholesome food." His cage-free and hormone-free Barred Rocks, White Rocks, Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Buttercups (I love fancy-pants chicken names) graze on pasture and provide these beauties.

Just look at this list from which to choose food, home, and garden products; and shopping is easily done online, wearing my fuzzy slippers and PJ's.

At the new Edmond location where I picked up my purchases, Chelsey, the Edmond coordinator, was a calm voice in the midst of friendly chaos--dozens of large ice chests full of orders, mesh bags full of produce, pails of wheat berries, and boxes of various products. From the operations center, to the drivers, to the distribution areas, it is a volunteer undertaking, so everyone pitches in to help sort and to assist others in finding their products. It was fun standing elbow-to-elbow trying to find my eggs from the dozens in the ice chests and my apples from the bags on the floor.

Check out the bounty I chose this month:

Jewel-like Seedless Red Raspberry Jelly from Granny's Oven Fresh in Chandler
Peach Salsa (it's addictive) from Peach Crest Farms in Stratford

Wild Grape Jelly, Garlic Tomato Basil Soup from Earth Elements Farm in Lexington

Eggs, including beautiful blue ones and "apples that are great but have a split", (they are crispy, tart, and delicious) from Peach Crest Farms

6-pack of certified organic lettuce from Crestview Farms in Arcadia

Eggs from Ressler Farms in Arcadia

Cowboy Cheese, preservative-free from hormone-free cows, from Christian Cheese in Kingfisher; Creamline Yogurt and sweet. creamy Butter from Wagon Creek Creamery in Helena

Was my order a bit more than I would pay at the grocery store? Yes, and worth every penny.