Eat, Drink and Be Local with the Eat Local Challenge

Each July, Food Conspiracy Co-op showcases local with an Eat Local Challenge. The Challenge is in July because it is the time when local farmers grow an abundance of tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, basil, okra, garlic, chilies, onions and more.  It is the season we celebrate our local farmers and what they grow.  For the first two weeks of July, all local produce, grocery, prepared foods, beer and wine, and wellness items are 10% off for everyone.  Last year, $1,883.14 in Eat Local Challenge discounts was subsidized by the Co-op. We want to support more this year and we need your participation! Come enjoy and celebrate the abundance of the season.

Eating local at the Co-op not only includes locally grown vegetables from Forever Yong Farm, Sleeping Frog Farm and Sonoran Hydroponics, citrus from Desert Treasures, but locally roasted coffees and cold brew by Exo Roast. Co., Yellow Brick Coffee, and Presta Coffee Roasters.  Food Conspiracy Co-op carries products from as many as 65 different local businesses.   Local beers on tap from Borderlands Brewing Co., Dragoon Brewing Co. and local wines from Dos Cabezas and Lawrence Dunham Vineyard.  Ice cream made locally by Isabella’s Ice Cream. Local grains and bans from San Xavier Co-op Farm mesquite and Pima wheat flours and BKW Farms Sonoran White wheat berries. Oh!Ganics OhBars and R Bars. Local beef Sky Island beef, ReZoNation pork and eggs, and of course many brands of local honey, salsas, and corn and flour tortillas and bread.  Discounts apply to locally made wellness items from Kuumba Made, Kate’s Magik, and Desert Tortoise Botanicals. Additionally, each day one menu item from Conspiracy Kitchen will be 10% off.

Get an Eat Local shopping list at the co-op to discover new items.  After purchasing any three products, get entered to win a $50 gift card and new Co-op t-shirt.   Or, you can participate virtually by sharing your purchases, local finds and creations on Instagram tagging the Co-op @Foodconspiracy using the hashtag #TusonEatsLocal.  At the end of two weeks, two winners will be randomly chosen from the Shopping List drawing and from the Instagram photo entries.  Enjoy and challenge yourself to eat and drink local, have fun!

When is the Eat Local Challenge?

July 1-14th 10% off all local for everyone! Additionally First Friday Summer Sale is Friday, July 3rd is 10% off for everyone! First Friday Summer Sale is a fun festive sale event with wine and food tastings, live music and community. Friday July 3rd live music is by Leila Lopez.

10 Ways for Kids to Go Local

“Eat your veggies!” “Clean your plate!” “You don’t know what’s good for you!” When it comes to eating healthy foods, these might be some parents’ daily mantras. At the peak of the local food season, there’s no better time to engage your kids in enjoying good food.

Encouraging kids to get excited about local foods is a great way to increase their appetite for nutritious foods like tomatoes, broccoli, eggs and carrots as well as healthy grains, dairy and meats.

Check out these 10 tips for getting children interested in local foods from spring and summer to harvest.

  1. Take your family on a farm tour. Encourage your kids to take pictures and make a photo book or poster about the farm to share with friends and classmates during show-and-tell or a similar time.
  2. Let your kids play with their food. Make an art project out of local foods, such as seed art or veggie sculptures.
  3. Planting a back yard garden or container garden? Don’t just share in the dutiesDesignate one row or one type of vegetable or fruit that is your child’s to plant, weed and harvest throughout the season.
  4. Encourage your child to pick out an item at the farmers market or co-op; then prepare a meal with them using their chosen local food.
  5. Make freezer jam out of their favorite berries. By making freezer jam, kids can learn about food preservation and enjoy their favorite fruit into the fall season. There’s always room for jam!
  6. Declare your food independence! On July 4, make homemade ice cream featuring locally-sourced milk, cream, fruit and nuts.
  7. Throw a local food pizza party.  Devote a Saturday afternoon to baking a pizza with as many local foods as possible. Let your kids roll the dough while you chop and shred local ingredients that they can sprinkle on top.
  8. Sip cider and jump in the hay at the local orchard. Pick apples with your kids and talk about the year-long work it takes to produce an array of apples.
  9. Pick the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. Take your kids to a local pumpkin patch to enjoy the festivities. Then, bring home an extra pumpkin and make a holiday pie, and don’t forget to roast the seeds.
  10. Prepare a meal based on your heritage. Were your grandparents farmers? Prepare a meal based on the food they once grew. Is your ancestry Italian? German? West African? Make a meal based on their native foods with as many local ingredients as possible. Share stories about your family over the dinner table.

– See more at: http://strongertogether.coop/fresh-from-the-source/10-ways-for-kids-to-go-local/#sthash.kLH0BtXQ.dpuf

July 13 – Day 13

You know those days. Why should I pretend like I don’t have them too. You’ve just finished your work week. You’re looking forward to your weekend, no matter what it holds, but the first priority is a nap. And before you know it, you wake up, it’s well past dinnertime and you’re hungry. Hmm. Ok. A pint of ice cream it is!
Breakfast Omelet:
Egg (ReZoNation Farm), Zucchini (Forever Yong), Pepper Jack Cheese (Queso Superior), Pesto [Basil (my windowsill), Pecans (The Pecan Store), Garlic (Forever Yong), Olive Oil (Queen Creek), salt, pepper], Onion (Forever Yong), Tomato (Forever Yong).
Lunch:
White Peaches (English Fruit Farm)
Fresh Local Figs!
Sweet and Sour Pork (Food Conspiracy Kitchen Hot Bar)
Dinner:
Coffee Bean Ice Cream (Isabella’s Ice Cream)
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July 12 – Day 12

I ran into Diana from La Tauna Tortillas while I was at the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market yesterday. It wasn’t the first time we’ve crossed paths and, as I approached her table of tortillas, she greeted me warmly, as always. She asked if I had ever tried her Spicy Tortillas. I assured her I had and silently forgave her for not reading my blog. She forced upon me a sample of tortilla and local honey. I grudgingly obliged. It was delicious, of course. She recommended I try it with almond or peanut butter, too. You don’t have to tell me twice, Diana. I’m on it.
Diana somehow seems to love Food Conspiracy as much as I do, which would obviously be impossible or at least unlikely, even going out of her way to financially and personally support the store at our Annual Meeting. Her never-ending smile is always a welcome sight. The tortillas she brings us two or three times a week are the product of the recipe development forced upon her by her son’s failing health. The name she gives them is from the stone mill used to grind grain. You can still find one in her sister-in-law’s backyard in Sonora, Mexico.
Diana is yet another passionate individual making significant contributions to our community. I’m always happy to show her my support. Try her tortillas. You won’t regret it.
Breakfast:
Granola (Small Planet Bakery), Raw Goats’ Milk Yogurt (Fiore DiCapra)
Green Grapes and Raisins (Community Food Bank)
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Lunch:
Pumpkin Bread (Small Planet Bakery)
White Peaches (English Fruit Farm)
Okra (Forever Yong)
Local Fresh Figs
Beef Lasagna with House-made Marinara and Herbed Ricotta (Food Conspiracy Kitchen Hot Bar)
Pre-Soccer Game Dinner Salad:
Lightly steamed Arugula (Sleeping Frog), Purslane (Sleeping Frog), Fennel (Sleeping Frog), boiled Cholla Buds (San Xavier Farm Co-op), White Peaches (English Fruit Farm), JonaMac Apples (English Fruit Farm), Tomato (Forever Yong)
Dressing:
JonaMac Apple (English Fruit Farm, White Peach (English Fruit Farm), Olive Oil (Queen Creek), Prickly Pear Tea (We B’ Jamin Farm), Basil (windowsill), Salt, Pepper
Is that seven local producers on one plate? Amazing!

Is that seven local producers on one plate? Amazing!

July 11 – Day 11

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market. I’d argued recently that this market has historically been a tough one for me to get to but the truth is I just haven’t made it a priority. I should have.
I’d come on a good week. Some monsoon weather had come through and cooled off the Tucson area, making for a comfortable walk around the market. I arrived somewhat late and stopped by the information booth to check if I had missed anything significant. It seems that a couple groups chose not to show up due to the recent weather, the San Xavier Farm Co-op was among them.
The Market is held at the Mercado San Agustin, located at the corner of Avenida del Convento and Congress, and is a beautiful space to hold any gathering. Vendors can be found both inside and outside the courtyard space and I realized I just missed the live music performed at each event.
Knowing I had a somewhat long evening of cooking ahead and a friend waiting, I quickly browsed the available produce, seeing mostly the same seasonal standbys like onion, garlic, potatoes and summer squash (especially summer squash). Things like tortiallas, salsa, tamales, eggs, potted plants, honey and local healing ointments could also be found. The Mercado itself also has Mexican food, ice cream, and coffee.
This farmers’ market is put on by The Community Food Bank, which also operates as one of the vendors. Theirs is a couple of tables made up of produce grown on their farms and the farms and backyards of others. Their consignment program allows for little surprises like grapes that wouldn’t otherwise make it to the market. Ninety percent of the proceeds from the consignment program go to the grower themselves and the other ten percent goes to the Food Bank. Any unsold food is given to those in need.
Stop by and visit. Support the local. This time of year, the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday from 4-7PM.
http://communityfoodbank.com/programs-services/alphabetical-list/santa-cruz-river-farmers-market/
Breakfast Quesadilla:
Spicy Tortilla (La Tauna), Menonita Quesadilla Cheese (Queso Superior), White Onion (Forever Yong), Hot Salsa (Chilttepica), Tomato (Forever Yong)
Lunch:
Local Fresh Figs (I wait all year for these to be in season)
Food Conspiracy Kitchen Wheatberry Salad, I love the chewy wheatberries and crisp apples
White Peaches (English Fruit Farm)
Okra (Forever Yong)
Gnocci with Eggplant and Basil Tomato Sauce
Gnocci:
Yukon Gold Potatoes (Sleeping Frog), Egg (ReZoNation Farm), Wheat Flour (San Xavier Co-op Farm Store), Salt
Tomato Sauce:
Eggplant (San Xavier Co-op), Yellow Onion (Community Food Bank), Basil (windowsill), Garlic (Forever Yong), Olive Oil (Queen Creek), Salt, Pepper
Hefeweizen Beer (San Tan Brewing), Epicenter Amber (San Tan Brewing)
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July 10 – Day 10

That was fun. Let’s do another one.

Until he moves on to bigger and better things, Blake Collins brews the beer at Borderlands Brewery. If you like his beer then you like Blake since the beer itself perfectly represents Blake’s inner beauty.

Ok, maybe not (or maybe), but Blake’s a friend that one day appeared as if from nowhere. He was childhood buddies with a friend of mine; they grew up playing Magic, or some such game, together. At some point (after he’d grown up – not that he’s not against playing Magic now, too) Blake decided it was time to move to Tucson. Or something like that. After some restaurant time he found a new job at Brew Your Own Brew which led naturally to his current position where he gets to make delicious beer for the community all day long. And where would a community be without beer? Seriously.

Food Conspiracy has had a fun working relationship with Blake and Borderlands. Years ago we toyed with the idea of bottling a brew just for the co-op. More recently and for two years running, Borderlands has opened their doors to our members as host to the store’s Annual Meeting. In the last month, Food Conspiracy started a growler filling program, a program Borderlands has enthusiastically been a part of.

In conclusion, drink Blake’s beer. He brewed it for you. Tell him it’s delicious and thank him for it. He IS part of your community, after all.

You can visit him at Borderlands Brewery, 119 E. Toole Avenue. If he seems to be missing, he’s probably at the co-op for lunch (or dinner) with his lovely wife, Breelan.

Breakfast Burrito:

  • Anasazi Bean with Spices (Jack and the Bean Soup)
  • Cotija Cheese (Queso Superior)
  • Spicy Tortilla (La Tauna)
  • White Peaches (English Fruit Farm)

Lunch:

  • Grass-Fed Beef Enchiladas Rojas (Conspiracy Kitchen)
  • Spinach Salad

Fried Egg Sandwich:

  • Extra Sour Rye Bread (Small Planet Bakery)
  • Eggs (Zen Hens)
  • Pepper Jack Cheese (Queso Superior)
  • Tomato (Forever Yong)
  • Cucumber (Forever Yong)
  • Sunflower Sprouts (Grassroots)
  • Honey Porter Mustard (Artisan’s Table)

July 9 – Day 9

A few days ago I sat overlooking the San Pedro River Valley talking about local foods. It didn’t escape my mind that there, far below, lay Sleeping Frog Farm operated by Debbie, Adam, CJ and Clay. As time has passed I’ve had the good fortune of slowly getting to know all four of these passionate individuals, but my relationship with them started with Food Conspiracy’s relationship with one of our past produce suppliers, Agua Linda Farm.

Adam would come into the store to drop off produce, then come through the check out line with grocery items to take back to the farm with him. Eventually, my curiosity got the best of me and either I asked enough questions about the farm that he invited me out or I invited myself, leading to my first look at desert farming. There, I worked my soft hands into blisters and toured the fields. I also met Debbie, an Americorps (or something like that) intern.

You never really know what will happen when someone starts talk of doing something grand like opening up their own farm. Lots of people say things that they never follow through with. But, sure enough, it wasn’t long before the two of them teamed with CJ and Clay to open up Sleeping Frog Farm somewhere to the north of Tucson. And when circumstances arose that necessitated a move, they bought and developed an even bigger and better farm on the other side of the Rincon Mountains in the San Pedro River Valley.

As demand for their products grew, they expanded their farm into adjacent fields, and as they expanded, they needed investment money to put in a greenhouse, among other things. The Food Conspiracy gave them a loan, paid back in part with fresh produce. They paid it back so quickly that they approached us for more money. It’s an amazingly beneficial relationship that you are unlikely to see in a food system that doesn’t emphasis the local.

I’ve been to their farm on Conspiracy hosted tours, random visits to get out of town and Farm hosted events (like planting garlic). It’s a beautiful place that produces an array of items from fruits and vegetable to soaps and canned chutney. Look for their items at the Food Conspiracy Co-op and the St. Phillip’s Farmers’ Market or sign up for their weekly CSA (their pick-up is behind our store). Why would you not want to support such passionate individuals with such great vision for the future of our food?

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Breakfast Sandwich:
Extra Sour Rye Bread (Small Planet Bakery), Cotija Cheese (Queso Superior), caramelized White Onion (Forever Yong), Sunflower Sprouts (Grassroots), Tomato (Forever Yong), Pickled Zucchini (gotten from the Sleeping Frog Farm table at St Phillip’s Farmers’ Market), Honey Porter Mustard (Artisan’s Table).
Lunch:
Spicy Ethiopian Wrap (Cafe Desta, from the grab-and-go shelf at the Food Co-op), White Peaches (English Fruit Farm), Turnips (Sleeping Frog Farm), Cosmic Craisin Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie (Small Planet Bakery)
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Squash Pasta Pesto
Yellow Zucchini Squash (San Xavier Coop Farm Store), Olive Oil (Queen Creek), salt and pepper
Pesto: Basil (my windowsill), Pecans (The Pecan Store), Garlic (Forever Yong), Olive Oil (Queen Creek), salt, pepper
Across the top I put Tomato (Forever Yong) and crumbled Cotija Cheese (Queso Superior)

July 8 – Day 8

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Today left me excited about cooking possibilities for the rest of the week. At some point during the past few days I realized while thinking out loud that, with all the basil sitting in my windowsill, I could easily make pesto, except I was without some sort of nut to bring it all together. But there are obviously nut trees in the area, you can see them as you’re driving north or south on Interstate 19. So after a bit of research I located The Pecan Store in Green Valley.

1625 E. Sahuarita Rd.

Sahuarita, AZ 85629

They had a nice little store with a lot of little chocolate covered nut desserts, other things they’d brought in from elsewhere like olive oil from California, and the locally grown pecans I came to get.

On my way back to town I stopped at the San Xavier Co-op Farm Store.

8100 Oidak Wog

Tucson, AZ 85746

If I understand correctly, these folks show up to the Santa Cruz Farmers’s Market here in town, though I don’t know if they bring their entire selection of locally sourced items. At their store I found things I haven’t seen anywhere else and a few that are pretty typical for this time of year: eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red onion, jalapeño peppers, whole wheat flour (air-sealed in approximately 1.5 pound packages), potatoes, lima beans, tepary beans and dried cholla buds. I was excited to find that for the cholla buds they had a helpful hints pamphlet with recipes. I picked up a nice assortment of things.

Breakfast (leftover food from the hike):

Oaxaca Cheese (Queso Superior), Okra (Forever Yong), Carrots (Avalon Gardens)

I also had some more of the mesquite flour thumbprint cookies (Tortilleria Arevalo). I got these at St Phillip’s Farmers’ Market. There’s a dollop of Prickly Pear Jelly in the thumbprint.

Lunch:

  • Anasazi with Spices Soup (Jack and the Bean Soup)

This was a flavorful dish I picked up on Sunday from the St Phillip’s Farmers’ Market. It’s supposed to be eaten like a soup I made it into something more like a spicy bean dish. It comes with a pound of beans and a packet of spices to add.

Dinner: Perogies

  • Rex’s Sauerkraut & Onion Perogies
  • Carmelized White Onion (Forever Yong)
  • Applesauce made from JonaMac Apples (English Fruit Farm)
  • salt and pepper

This turned into a deliciously filling meal. I don’t think I’d ever had perogies before and wasn’t sure what to think about the topping combination but it all turned out nicely. The JonaMac Apples couldn’t have been much bigger than golf ball size so the applesauce process was pretty labor intensive. I probably used seven or eight of those and could have done a couple more to get the quantity of applesauce I wanted for all six perogies. All in all, excellent perogies and a delicious meal, all local!

July 6 – Day 6

I went on a hike today with my friend, Eric. The monsoons inevitably pull me out of my apartment in search of spectacular clouds and their attending sunsets. It’s a beautiful time to be out and about and I frequently pull out the doplar radar hoping to plant myself as near a storm as possible without getting electricuted. Part of the objective is to get a killer picture of lightening but really, any excuse to get outside is a good one in my opinion.

In this particular case, I’d failed miserably in getting us anyway near a storm of any significance and so we sat on a rock outcrop part way up the Santa Catalinas. Off in the distance, tucked just behind Mica Mountain, a microburst was making its way slowly across the landscape, lightening and all. To the left lay the expansive San Pedro River Valley where patches of sunlight occasionally broke through a mostly clouded sky. The sun was low and nearby rock formations cast long shadows across the landscape.

I munched on some random (local) snack items I’d brought along for the occasion and he asked why I thought eating local was important. There are certainly plenty of good reasons to eat locally, though I’m certainly no expert, but my argument fell to two main points:

1. I’m interested in supporting local economies and developing local industry and growers. Spending locally helps create and support local jobs and that has positive consequences for everyone. Also, there is something inherently silly about buying apples and peaches from Washington when we’ve got perfectly good (if not better) apple and peaches being grown just a short drive away.

2. When things are bought locally it’s far easier to hold those producers accountable for their actions. Local communities have more intense interest in protecting their water, land and air resources. It’s easy to ignore environmental and human rights abuses when they don’t happen right down the street from you. Also, there is something inherently silly about buying apples and peaches from Washington when we’ve got perfectly good (if not better) apple and peaches being grown just a short drive away.

I think those are both good points that are hard to argue away but, truth be told, I feel like the most important aspect of eating locally is the sense of community that comes along with it. I think the feeling that comes from having a direct connection to your community, your farmer and your food is worth even more to the human spirit than having a clean environment to live in and healthy food to eat.

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Speaking of food, today’s consumption was embarrassingly uninspired.

Breakfast:

  • 1 bowl of Small Planet Bakery granola in raw goats’ milk from Fiore DiCapra.

 

Lunch:

Breakfast burrito
  • Spicy Tortilla (La Tauna)
  • Eggs (Zen Hens)
  • Purple Potatoes (Sleeping Frog)
  • Garlic (Forever Yong)
  • White Onion (Forever Yong)
  • Sunflower Spouts (Grassroots)
  • Tomato (Forever Yong)
  • Verde Salsa (Not So Gringo)
  • Zucchini (Forever Yong)

Hiking Snack/Dinner

  • Oaxaca Cheese (Queso Superior)
  • raw okra (Forever Yong)
  • raw carrots (Avalon Gardens)
  • raw turnips (Sleeping Frog)
  • Tortilla chips (I finally found Alejandro’s Tortilla Chips. Though I swear I’ve seen them other places in the past, maybe now you can only get them at Alejandro’s Market, 5330 S 12th Ave)
  • Salsa (Chilttepica)