The Backyard

The Backyard

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.


David said...

I am a part time farmer in North Central West Virginia. I have a hard time creating interest in organic produce. At the market, they just want fresh produce.

Chili said...

Thank you David... which leads me more to my belief I should grow it myself! The one spot that carries organic produce (but not local), tends to have it a long time and they've even given me produce that was past its prime. I know what you mean -- folks need to be educated!