The Backyard

The Backyard

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last Week of the Eat Local Challenge

It takes 20 days to break a habit and after 28 days of studying food sources, I think the just-buy-it-because-its-cheap and you need it habit has been broken. No more will I just throw a food product in my cart. No more will I run to the store to pick up a few things for a recipe. No more will I make a recipe that calls for "exotics" like pineapple or bananas. No more will my garden be small - the list is long for next year of things to grow (i.e., black beans, kidney beans, corn, sweet potatoes, etc.) Every meal is thought through and prepared and the main ingredient is usually something locally grown. The grocery bills have gone down, the local foods list has grown, and my eating habits have changed dramatically. I can't say its just food though. Reading the books Deep Economy and Depletion and Abundance the past month have us both focusing on energy and oil consumption too. More on that in another post. So what exactly am I eating or not eating these days? Here's the rundown of the some of the major food stuffs (I'll be updating this list as I remember things and add things):

Staples - local food:

  • Organic Spelt bread or baked product from spelt - apple crisp, squash bars, etc.
  • Butter (stilling weighing the saturated fat consumption vs the shipping and processing costs of Olive Oil)
  • Milk (Raw, of course!) and homemade dairy products from the milk (yogurt, ricotta cheese, I want to try mozzarella too)
  • Eggs (organic only)
  • Meat (Rick won't eat organic - but its local and field raised!)
  • All kinds of Vegetables from the garden (organic) or local Farmers market (not org) -all kinds
  • Frozen fruit veges from the summer harvest (Raspberries!)
  • Apples! Pears! (not organic)
  • Cider (not organic)
  • Local Honey
  • Local walnuts and hickory nuts. (stupid me... I have hickory nuts in my yard!)

OFF the Food list - forever?

  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Boxed Cereal
  • Packaged and processed anything (although Rick likes his Ritz Crackers)
  • Fast Food!!! ARGH. (although Rick keeps threatening to stop at Burger King)
  • Clif bars! (I'm gonna miss them and may treat myself on occassion when I'm dying on a bike ride or something)
  • Olive Oil
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar (although I don't think Hubby can live without it).
  • Coconut

Converting from bought to garden next year:

  • Beans! All kinds
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (although I can get them local fairly easily, but they aren't organic)
Unsure what to do - these things are nutritionally important or needed for baking, yet not available locally:

  • Oatmeal (may be able to find in PA)
  • Rice
  • Pasta (I might try making my own with Spelt flour)
  • Quinoa (have grown to love this, but its only grown in South America)
  • Flax Seeds (may be able to find in PA)
  • Baking Powder/Soda; Yeast


  • Coffee (free trade organic only)
  • Spices

BUT - I gained 5 pounds in the past month! Rick is quick to blame the raw whole milk, I'm quick to blame the food I'm preparing and won't let it go to waste and end up eating to many calories. So I have to work on that... but I believe some bad eating habits have been broken. Thank you Eat Local Challenge!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Raising Eyebrows - Is Your Meat Local?

Since my husband won’t eat ANY meat I purchase from the local organic farm because he simply will not support the prices they demand for USDA certified organic, I started asking local stores if their meat is local. While I can't force my dear husband to stop eating meat (thus I still do too on occasion), I think I have him convinced the shipping and processing of meat and where it comes from is bad news. Actually, he saw a program on TV that surprised him -- there are large meat processors who actually send whole carcasses to China for cutting and packaging - then it gets shipped back to the states for retail sales. How fresh could that meat possibly be? There are no feedlots or factory farms in the Lykens and Hegins Valley,- just rolling fields of peacefully grazing animals. So the thought is all local butchers would carry local, grass-fed, field raised beef? I was wrong. But the interesting part of my asking was some of the reaction I'd get to the question. "What?" Where does our Meat come from??" I believe they suspected the punch line shortly. One butcher never called me back, while another said no with a bit of sarcasm, and referred me to their sister-store. The guy that made me chuckle most was the one that very proudly answered, "We get our meat from the Midwest from a really big company called IBP. Its shipped fresh and they always have nice cuts." He was SO proud of that. But it was the wrong answer buddy. I just said thanks and hung up. IBP Fresh meats, aka. Tyson Foods – is the world’s largest industrial food processors whom support CAFOs big time and is a major no-no in terms of green living. It really bursted my bubble with the store that proclaims, "proudly local." The local farmer's market has about 5 butcher stands and one of them does in fact carry locally raised and processed beef. I only asked one of the other stands if their meat is local and surprise, surprise, the answer was "it depends and changes from week to week. Some of it is, some of it isn't." The girl didn't seem to want to share too much information. It was the same reaction I got several years ago when I asked "are those strawberries organic?" And the answer I got was "What does it matter." Conclusion? I don't think the general majority of the butcher shop owners, or food retailers in general, think too much about the source of their food or the consequenses of not keeping it local. Organic is a whole separate issue. It saddened me to know "local" is not always local, and don't ask about it either!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Book Review - Deep Economy

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver led me to my latest read, Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. Barbara did an incredible job of laying out the local food consumption lifestyle and in the process, talks about what’s going on in the rest of the world and why it’s important to eat local and organic. Deep Economy is also about keeping it local, but more on a global scale and more about economies and how communities can work together to sustain themselves and not rely on depleting resources, i.e., oil. This is a book I’d recommend to folks who are involved in their community and aren’t afraid to start a “movement” so to speak. It’s for involved townspeople who show up at town meetings and voice their opinions on a regular basis. Its for government policy people looking for “cutting edge” ways to support communities. Then again, its also for people who simply want to know what’s possible on a community level, and want to know what NOT to do. For example, after you read the chapter about manufacturing in China, you may never purchase another product made in China again. I found it disheartening how that country treats its people and how the people listen to the communist government and how they will leave their families to work in the plants for pennies, food, and shelter. How that country is depleting nearly all its resources including forest and water – all for the love of unnecessary junk Americans buy and stock up on, only to eventually be thrown in a landfill. Not to mention the impact on the earth of producing the product and then shipping thousands of miles to America. On the flipside, there are very small pockets of Chinese trying to make it on their own through local sustainability, but its extremely hard for them. That’s the part that struck home – the comparison to very poor people and countries and the affluent Americans. We Americans are wealthy beyond our wildest dreams in numerous ways - to the point of too much – way too much. I’m a typical example when only two years ago I didn’t think twice about dropping $2,000 on a bicycle or even a year ago when I bought $200 boots (of which my husband had a hissy fit over and now I totally understand why!). I now look at these really bad spending habits as ludicrous after reading Deep Economy and wouldn’t think of doing such a thing again – ever! I’m now a full-time second-hand store shopper or better yet – ask myself if Ineed it in the first place! The Chapters on communities that are shining examples of sustainable living are interesting to read about also. Burlington, Vermont is talked about a lot – they have their own energy and even their own local money that is used as payment for local taxes and locally produced food. And every time the author talked about community involvement, I compared his stories with my own neighbors – the Amish – whom have a deep loyalty to each other and their community, and work tirelessly on the farms and basically do everything local as much as possible. Deep Economy was a hard read for me, and the only thing that held my interest in it is my government employment in community and economic development and my current quest to learn about staying local as much as possible. But I learned a great deal on this one and already am practicing cost and energy savings ways. This book led me to Crunchy Chicken -- an incredibly inspirational blog on living green. It led me to Greenpa – a biologist who’s been off-the-grid for 31 years who has curious ways of living (no refrigerator? no indoor toilet?)! And it led me to my next book – Depletion and Abundance which is about green living after the possibility of our oil being depleted. Crunchy Chicken does an on-line book review every two weeks - and the next one is October 28 if you want to post comments! I would highly recommend Deep Economy if you want to challenge your local sustainability knowledge and learn new ways other than eating locally to keep-it-local.

Monday, October 20, 2008

20 Days Into the Eat Local Challenge - What I See at the Grocery Store Now

My husband used to moan and groan when I'd take too long reading nutrition content on labels of every product I contemplated purchasing at the grocery store. NOW he moans and groans when I scan the product for its origin. The Eat Local Challenge changed the look of the grocery isles. Rather than rows of rows of "food," I now see rows and rows of containers on cargo ships, chugging into the Philadelphia Port to unload from somewhere far away. And I see oil consumption - huge amounts of it in airlines as they hurry to ship the California Carrots to the East coast to maintain what little freshness is left in them. Rick heard Michael Pollen on NPR talking about his letter to the president-elect, Farmer in Chief, and the oil seeping from food, and that's now what I see at the grocery store -- crude oil just running down the isles and oozing from the cracks in boxes. Our cart is no longer overflowing. I can barely bring myself to buy food if I can't find the Origin: USA on it somewhere. Even USA is a stretch - I'd LOVE PA Preferred, but its just not there. Even Pennsylvania Cider doesn't have the PA Preferred sticker on the rack like the store promised to do. I'm dissappointed with the GIANT store. Organics? Forget it. I'm now worried about the source of Nature's Promise Organics after finding out the corn comes from China. But Rick likes those cheap China prices. So he'll continue to dump the oil in the cart, and I'll continue to cringe. Yes, I feel like I've really cut back on a ton of food from Giant (just me -- not hubby!) -- but I also feel pretty darn good with the substitutions -- I'll get the names of the Jersey cows that produce the raw milk next week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Easy Butter Making Pictorial

Ingredient: Raw Milk Cream. Scoop cream off top of fresh Raw Milk and put in jar 1/3 full (to allow room to shake). Let sit until it hits room temperature.

Start shaking.

In about 30 minutes, you'll see the butter forming.
Pour into fine-mesh strainer, saving buttermilk for other recipes.
Put in cereal bowl and rinse butter until water flows clear.
Press excess water out with spoon - be sure to remove as much water as possible. My hubby helped with this and soaked up the water with a paper towel as I pressed it out.

Finished products. Makes 2 cups buttermilk and maybe the equivalent to a stick of butter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Midway of the Eat Local Challenge Month

To be honest, I haven't really thought the Eat Local Challenge through before signing on 5 days into the start of Challenge. My pantry had many "leftovers" that I didn't want to go to waste, so yes -- I've been eating non-local foods. Actually, cleaning up the leftovers and anticipating my new eating habits when the last bits of what I've grown accustomed to eating for 30 years will no longer be (i.e., cereal!). However, the Challenge has taught me a great deal - like thinking about every product I consider purchasing; thinking about the amount of money I'm saving by NOT purchasing the unneccessary foodstuff like chocolate, or cheese; thinking about how easy it is to buy local here in central PA - BUT, there's very, very little organic. And lastly - mainly because I'm so pro-organic, researching exactly where the "organic" foods come from under brand names like Nature's Promise - little did I know that the natures Promise Corn comes from China! I was shocked, and as a result, have been planning a HUGE garden already for next year. Here's what I learned from the Eat Local Challenge:
  • How to make butter -- no need for olive oil.
  • How to make buttermilk -- useful in numerous recipes
  • NOT to buy cereal
  • How Giant stores have very few things local -- I found mushrooms and cider, that's it!
  • How Giant's "Nature's Promise" organics come from far, far, away.
  • How much I adore the raw milk from the farm 1.67 miles away.
  • How much I adore my local Oprah organic eggs.
  • How much eating local is exactly how my mom and dad grew up.
  • How much I appreciate canning and freezing my own organic food because nobody really grows it locally.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Cool Blog

Funky, Fun, and super environmentally informative (in a fun way). She's a "green mom" too.

My Famous Eggs

Every morning and evening, our route to and from work in Harrisburg takes us along Route 25 from Millersburg to Gratz -- a rural, farming area that has remained agriculture through the years (thank god!) thanks to the Amish and caring farmers. Natural Acres occupies about 300 acres along route 25, and every night I get real excited when I see the chickens doing their thang -- flopping, scratching, pecking, chasing the cows, and generally enjoying their 6 or so hours of sunshine and fresh air every day. Natural Acres is an Organic Farm, and their flock of chickens produce the organic eggs I've been eating for a couple years now. Imagine how elated I was when I saw the sign "WATCH OUR CHICKENS ON OPRAH ON TUESDAY." What?! Sure enough, Oprah featured a show about Proposition 2 -- a referendum on the California Ballot to require farms to house their animals in larger cages. Like Oprah does so well, she gave both sides of the animal production story. She showed free range, grass fed animals, and she showed factory farm, caged animals. And the free range chickens were -- you guessed it -- the Natural Acres Egg laying chickens. It was SO cool seeing Ivan and his flock hit it big time. Tonight, Rick thought I was going to jump out of the car when I saw Ivan walking toward the barn and about 200 chickens were following him like dogs. It was an awesome sight. I SO want chickens! Please buy organic, local eggs.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Never Knew Anyone Who Made Butter

But now I do. Part of the joy of raw milk is that gloriously thick layer of natural cream that floats to the top. Depending on the breed of cow, the cream is more in abundance. I found a farm close to home that has Jersey milk and I got my first gallon on Saturday. Jersey cows produce the most milk fat -- the perfect cow for butter production. Why make butter? Blame the eat local challenge and my quest for "local" food. I normally eat Smart Balance -- processed and shipped from who-knows-where. Olive oil is good too - but where does that come from? So I decided to try to make butter. Mother Earth News promised it would be easy -- and it was. Just like it says in the link, after 40 minutes of shaking the milk fat in a jar, I had creamy butter. It was so good I wanted to eat it like pudding. Here is a really good pictorial of the process, although this guy uses some sort of churn. I used a jar like recommended in Mother Earth news and it worked fine. Some articles use food processors and mixers on low using the dough attachments. The jar was good. The only thing I didn't do was let it set on the counter for 12 hours like Mother Earth news recommends to allow the cream to form acid (sour) to flavor it more. I like my butter fresh tasting, so I only left it get to room temperature. Simply delightful... and easy. If you use raw milk, this is a must do.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Trying to Understand Why Folks Aren't Interested in Organic

Education. Everything in life revolves around learning - through books, through actions, through words. I'm slowly trying to learn and understand why people have no interest in organics in the Upper Dauphin area. Our local bulk food store has been increasing their organic products line over the past couple years, although none are local. Yesterday my husband and I asked about the possibility of carrying the local organic spelt flour. And the answer was, "Fay (the owner) is going to be cutting back the organic section and not carrying as many things." I was devastated to hear that. My husband, the intellect of the family, got into a disucussion with me on organics and economics and we come to the conclusion people simply will not pay the price and stores are trying, but the locals aren't buying it, so the stores stop selling. And we both believe folks aren't buying because the average person doesn't really understand the depth of what organic truly means. The majority of the population doesn't know (or care) where their food comes from and how it was grown. They aren't interested in the nutritional value of organic vs non-organic produced food. And the average person doesn't really think they can make a difference in the environment by buying organic. I also learned that government isn't really in on the organic movement either. I won't touch on the monstrosity of the federal government and the USDA, but I can share a little on PA state government. Pennsylvania State Government has a PA Preferred program which is awesome and stresses buying local produce - BUT, they won't touch the organic side of things. I spoke to a gal who used to work at PA Agriculture and she believes organics are similar to the milk labeling issues in PA (PA state wanted to ban labels that stated milk was produced without use of antiobiotics, etc). Agriculture won't allow one food product to proclaim they are "better" than another simply by the way it produced. That's a shame. Maybe an organic education movement is order? The Eat Local Challenge is teaching me a whole lot more than eating local. I'm grateful.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dilemma - Eating Vegetarian, Local and Getting Enough Iron

A test for you -- if eating vegetarian AND taking the eat local challenge in Central Pennsylvania (we had our first frost two nights ago), what is the best source of iron? The average person, depending on their age and gender, needs between 8 and 15 mg of iron per day. Here's the choices of high iron-content foods. has to be local.

Iron mg per serving
Iron in Breads, cereals, and grains
Bran flakes, 1 c 11.0
Oatmeal, 1 packet 6.3
Samolina, Cream of wheat, 1/2 cup cooked 5.5
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoon 1.2
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 0.9
White bread, 1 slice 0.7

Iron in Vegetables (1/2 cup cooked)
Sea vegetables 18.1-42.0
Swiss chard 2
Turnip greens 1.6
Prune juice, 4 oz 1.5
Spinach cooked 1.5
Beet greens cooked 1.4
Potato, 1 large 1.4
Bok choy cooked 0.7
Peas, cooked 0.65
Green beans, cooked 0.60
Tomato juice 0.6
Broccoli, cooked 0.55
Watermelon, 1/8 medium 0.5

Iron in Legumes (1/2 cup cooked)
Lentils 3.2
Black eye beans 2.6
Navy beans 2.5
Pinto beans 2.2
Lima beans 2.2
Kidney beans 1.5
Chick peas (200 g) 6.2

Iron in Soy foods (1/2 cup cooked)
Tofu 6.6
Soybeans 4.4
Tempeh 1.8
Soy milk 0.9

Iron in Nuts/Seeds (2 Tablespoon)
Pumpkin seeds 2.5
Figs, dried, 5 2.0
Dried apricot, 5 1.6
Almond, 1/4 cup 1.3
Tahini 1.2
Sesame 1.2
Sunflower seeds 1.2
Cashew nuts 1.0

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Small Valley Milling - Organic Flour Locally

There aren't a lot of organic products produced locally in the Upper Dauphin county area, but when I found Small Valley Milling Spelt Farm just over the mountain from Elizabethville (on my way home from work - about 12 miles from home), my instincts were screaming for a little investigation. First, I had to do some research on spelt. Having only eaten it once or twice in bread and sticky buns, and having never baked with it, I was delving into new territory -- but hey, it was organic and local and I was willing to try anything local with an organic tag on it. Small Valley Milling is a farm. There's no storefront, no retail shop, no front desk to stop and pick up your order. When I called, the farmer wasn't sure where he'll be - so check both the house and the grainery/mill area. No one was at the Mill, so we stopped at the house where a very friendly kitty greeted and followed me. A young guy came out and said the flour is in storage at the Mill. We drive over, and he has us pull up to a refrigerated tractor-trailer storage unit. I'll take two 5-lb bags, please. And out he comes with two beautifully packaged bags of ground, whole spelt flour. It was $1.80 a lb. At first thought, $9.00 for a 5 lb bag of flour was a bit salty. But with a little calculation, considering the price of a loaf of bread these days and a 5lb bag will make about 4 loaves, this was a bargain - and its organic to boot! As we were driving back to the house, the young man pointed out the spelt growing in the field for the winter, similar to winter wheat. I thanked him not only for the spelt, but for owning and working on a farm and producing an organic product. He said he actually came back to the farm recently after going to school to be a design engineer and working for New Holland (makers of farming equipment) for a couple years. He said his dad is getting old, and he decided to come back to the farm. It brought tears to my eyes and I told him more young men should be like him. We need our farms - we need farmers. We need ORGANIC farmers. I asked if the flour is sold anywhere at retail stores, and he said not yet - they are trying to get it into our local Natural Acres stores in Millersburg, which I'll certainly put a good word in for the farmer and another local bulk food store - Hornings. It was a very worthwhile trip. Later that night, I was met with the icing on my cake of a day. I went for a run, and exactly 1.67 miles from my home is a brand new sign - "Fresh jersey milk - $1.50 a gallon." You can imagine my excitement. I'm currently paying $4.00 1/2 gallon from Natural Acres for pre-bottled, fancy-labeled raw milk (but local). With gallon jar in tow, I'll be visiting David Zook and his jersey cows on Saturday! I'm SO excited. Pictures coming of the sign - very local appearance.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Organic Food Prices May be Dropping

Interesting article on the potential of organic food prices dropping as a result of the crazy economy we are currently in. Check it out.

Monday, October 6, 2008

First Frost, Last Harvest of the Tender Annuals

It was bittersweet... the last pick of the season before the expected frost tonight. I hate this time of the year, but I do like the idea of taking a break from harvesting! Phew - August and September are brutal. All that was really left in the garden were peppers and can you guess the other? Yup - butternut squash! We'll be eating butternut squash pie and soup all winter. And the peppers? We froze plenty, so I think I'll take the plunge and make a sweet relish of some sort - not sure yet on that. All in all, that's about it for the garden for the year except for some greens, spinach, and red beets that'll be in the ground for about a month yet. They all like the cold and can tolerate a couple frosts. While most people love the fall, it's my least favorite season. I really need to think about a greenhouse and fall/winter growing like the Four Season Garden.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October is the Eat Local Challenge Month

While plugging in a search on local organic food, I found a website conducting an Eat Local Challenge for the month of October. I like their philosophy on buying local:

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic. If not ORGANIC, then Family farm. If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Fair Trade.
Although its 5 days into October, I signed up to pledge the challenge of eating locally for the month. They ask these three questions for local challengers to answer - my answers follow each question.
1. What's your definition of local for this challenge? My organic backyard or local organic is first, local produce within 50 miles of my home is second, PA Preferred produce is 3rd.
2. What exemptions will you claim? Coffee. Yeast. Spices. Only organic will be used when I can't find local "staples" such as oatmeal, flaxseed, grains (quinoa), and dried beans to name a few and THEY will be purchased locally only.
3. What are your goals for the month? Mainly to think about the source of my food and keeping it local not just in October - but going forward. My guidance is my parents whom tell numerous stories of ALL the food coming from their backyards when they were kids in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Gratz Crossroads Farmers Market - No Organics (but Tons of Local Produce)

I think I succeeded at officially frustrating my husband (and myself!) with my quest for organic, local food. He gets tired of my opinions, and I think I pushed it a bit too far with him last evening. And the trip tested my beliefs too. We stopped at the Gratz Crossroads Sale and Market (locally known as the "auction") last evening. We both were awestruck at the absolutely beautiful, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Baskets full of red beets for $4.00, huge bushel baskets of tomatoes for $12.00, apples, pears, peaches, broccoli the size of footballs and the cauliflower - it was as big as a basketball! I picked up some of the best-tasting white peaches I think I ever ate (yes, I diverted and ate non-organic). And the Amish stands of canned I could have bought them out. Chow chow, pickles, corn relish, jellies, applesauce -- all local, fresh, and shipped via hoof prints in the road (some of it). But as I drooled over everything, all I could think of was not one, single stand of anything organic. Rick commented on the size of the broccoli heads and I said, "hm... looks like the work of Miracle Gro to me." (If you use Miracle Grow - STOP!) And what did I think of when I looked at the basket of cheap tomatoes -- Monsanto and their hybrid seeds for mass producing food. Its all that goes through my head. I really, really wanted some canned goods, but my brain stopped me remembering my quest for organic. And poor Rick - he said "those grapes look nice, and they are only .99 a lb. Do you want to get some?" And I said, "NO... this is the stand that ships their stuff in from who-knows-where and those aren't local seedless grapes." Poor thing. He looked SO dissappointed. We then argued the rest of the night. He wanted his battery-caged chicken made with white instant rice, caged chicken eggs, processed gravy while I made pureed organic butternut squash-Fennel-Leek soup. And the whole time I was cooking I was growing more and more angry - mostly at myself for expecting Rick to adjust to my ways - I have to remember others just don't care and I can't force them into anything. Its really hard though with a meat-loving, Wal-Mart shopping, not-too-concerned-about-where-the-food-comes-from, look for the best bargain kinda husband. I guess I just have to keep it in my back-yard, and prove I can save us money by growing it myself. Two goals will be met - actually three - it'll be organic, it'll be cheap, and hubby should be happy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What I'm Discovering about Organic Food Availability Locally in Lykens PA

Lykens is about an hour northwest of Harrisburg, PA. The area is rural with a plethora of Amish families and farms. If you're not concerned about organic food, you are in luck in the Lykens Valley and neighboring Hegins and Mahantango Valleys -- there are butcher shops, a farmer's market, a fruit farm, and tons of produce stands that usually also have honey and brown, cage free eggs, and even the milk is bottled fairly close by (Pottsville is the closest, but Harrisburg Dairies isn't far behind). Organic shopping is a different story totally. While I could easily get all my non-organic food "locally" if I really wanted, I'm fixated on organics and the purposes of buying it (mainly environmental and humane animal husbandry), and continue my quest to figure out the local organic movement. Holy hell its hard. First, the milk. The only organic milk available locally is raw milk which is good, but I'm discovering raw milk goes sour a little quicker than pasteurized milk, AND the place I buy uses trickery in selling their products and dates things a little further out than they should, so I have to call to see when the fresh milk is coming in. The raw milk cheese is organic (lOVE IT!), and also comes from a farm in central PA. Eggs aren't a problem either, nor is the meat if I want to pay for it (so I don't and stick to vegetarian). The local organic store is a good choice as long as I keep a watch on their dates and freshness. So protein sources aren't a problem locally - everything else is! The only local organic produce I can find is what I grew in my backyard (which is making me think seriously about starting an organic farm upon retirement!). I found one local farm that produces organic grain and flour of which I'm going to check out in a couple days -- Small Valley Milling. Thank god I froze a ton of my own organic fruit -- otherwise there's NONE locally available. We have a fruit farm about two miles away and many others within about 15 miles or so, but they spray their apples, pears, and strawberries heavily. Snacks aren't a problem -- but they are industrially produced. UTZ makes an organic tortilla chip readily available which I have bought, but have to think that through a little more. My dad had the best solution -- make your own chips (but I have to find locally grown organic potatoes which I haven't seen yet). So I'm back to the dilemma from a couple years ago when I first started tracking down organics -- where do you find it. At that time (10 years ago or more), you could barely find organic food, period. It certainly has become much more readily available at Giant and other locations, but its likely not local OR is mass produced. Soo.... if anyone know of locally grown and canned and/or frozen ORGANIC food - tell me please! I work in Harrisburg, so the Harrisburg area is ok. Remember - LOCAL! Its a challenge.