Some of us have never moved outside the town in which we were raised (but maybe wish we had!). Others possibly moved away for college or training, relocated for a job and then settled down to start ‘adult life.’ But if you’re like my family, moving is a routine factor in our (military) lifestyle.
Moving every two to three years is both difficult and exciting. It is full of bittersweet farewells and anticipated adventure. Add the ‘real food factor’ to the mix, and temporarily things seem more overwhelming.
‘What? We have to step away from our current suppliers and, and, and . . . find new ones?! Help!’
If you’re not moving, but have recently kicked conventional, processed foods to the curb, you also may be feeling overwhelmed by the quest ahead of you. Or, perhaps you’ve been buying whole food for a while, but feel it’s time to reevaluate your sources. I hope what I share here will help all of you.
I know we all look with a smile of inspiration at Wardee and other dedicated contributing writers in the way they raise, grow, tend to and enjoy their own real food. What a gift! Truly — from the land, to the table! Though our family would love to be more self-sustaining (especially with five kids available for farm work), our current lifestyle dictates getting whole food from others.
By the way, my definition of ‘real food’ is getting our food in its most natural state, just as God intended. That, and getting to know our suppliers, is our aim at each location in which we live. If that is your goal as well, the following four suggestions will help you source your whole food table.
Word of Mouth
In my experience, and in sorting through responses from other frequently moving real food families, nothing is more helpful than word of mouth recommendations. Conversations with other whole-food-minded people, and suppliers, in your current city will help you survey your destination.
We moved cross-country a couple years ago and couldn’t believe a local co-op acquaintance in the Southwest had a daughter already set up with whole food suppliers at the exact place in which we were moving! Having that contact helped us immensely before we left the West.
Talk to farmers at local farmers’ markets if you frequent them. Continue this conversation with real food focused people when you arrive at your new residence. You will find yourself quickly set up with sources for real food simply through word of mouth.
We have lived in six geographically diverse locations over the last thirteen years. This presents a wonderful opportunity, yet an inevitable challenge.
For example, we found local pastured beef less accessible in Southern California than we have out in Virginia. However, produce availability and quality was exceptional in California. Western Washington allowed us to indulge in fresh, wild, delightful, very affordable salmon. Boy, do we miss that! The Amish influence in our current location has allowed us to enjoy farm fresh products year-round.
The geography of your residence and surrounding area will dictate what is readily available and fresh, versus what you might have to seek out elsewhere. Keep this in mind when you’re searching local sources.
Use the Internet
Yes, the Internet is full of a lot of misinformation. However, it can be a great repository of helpful information on sources for real food. Here are two websites at which to start your search: Eat Wild and Real Milk.
Usually with sites like these, one click leads to another click which leads to another click. And soon, you have more information than you know what to do with!
Meet Your Potential Suppliers
After you’ve pulled together as much information as possible, it’s time to put a “Farm Day” on your family calendar. Make an effort to visit the farms and/or ranches from which you plan to regularly buy your food. You will feel excitement and will rest easy after visiting. Or, you might feel uneasy and choose to find another farm. (Sadly, we have visited an unkempt farm and chosen not to purchase from it.)
Upon moving to our current location, our entire family was thrilled to meet the Amish farmers (and animals) from which we now get food. It was memorable to quietly interact with these families, observing their simple ways. That experience confirmed our decision to regularly order real food from them.
My heart goes out to those who have a move on the horizon, especially when trying to make a real food transition. There are many challenges indeed. But take heart. God has a new food adventure waiting for you. Adventures can be a lot of fun!
For those just starting in on whole food, or for those feeling it’s time to reevaluate — yes, it can be overwhelming. But after having engaged in thorough research and helpful conversation, you will become confident in your ability to source these delicious foods. You will enjoy the fruit of your labor right at your own real food dinner table.
What other resources or strategies would you employ to source real foods after a move? Please share!
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Nicole Holloway says
We are so grateful for our local farmer’s market, the hen ranch around the corner and Ramona Family Naturals Market “in town” where we buy our raw milk and sprouted breads.
Nicole, I’m so glad to hear you and your family are taking advantage of your local farmers’ market. The hen ranch ‘around the corner,’ sounds perfectly local. I am familiar with Ramona Family Naturals. Glad to hear you’re successfully and regularly finding raw milk and sprouted breads there. I pray your family continues to be blessed with health! And with all those potential helpers you’ll have in the kitchen someday, perhaps they can start making your sprouted bread!
Andrea Verwys says
Awesome article by Jenna. I would love a discussion about where the farmers market produce really comes from and what questions to ask farmers when you meet them at the market. I think it would be interesting to hear how your budget has changed for whole foods based on your location of living.
Thanks for your kind comments regarding my article, Andrea. You ask an interesting question as to ‘where the farmers’ market produce really comes from.’ One farmer goal is to save money by reducing transport and shipping costs, by selling fresh and directly to customers. So in theory, farmers represented at farmers’ markets are most likely farming very close by, or at most, part of a day’s drive away. But like all products we pick up in a store, we should be smart consumers and read signs, brochures and labels.
As far as questions to ask farmers, if I go to a farmers’ market, I always ask if/what pesticides, herbicides, etc. they use, and whether they consider themselves organic. Often times small farms use organic or ecologically sound farming methods, but don’t have (or want to spend) the money on the process it takes to become an officially USDA-certified-organic farm. And I’m perfectly fine with that answer!
Thanks for the idea of a post written to address budget changes based on whole foods purchasing in different living locations. Very interesting indeed!
Andrea Verwys says
Wonderful article, I have never seen an article written from this perspective. I would love to read a future article by Jenna on keeping within a food budget eating whole foods with a large family. I am also interested on your thoughts on Amish produce… why do you think they use shortening and Jello so much in their baking products (Whoopie Pies, fruit pies, etc).
Thanks, Andrea. I’m glad to hear this article showed you a new perspective on finding sources for real food. I appreciate the additional idea on writing about keeping a budget while feeding a whole food large family.
Regarding the Amish, I think we need to differentiate from ecologically-sound Amish farming methods, organic produce, and pastured meat; and the Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine that permeates Amish culture. My family regularly purchases from Amish farms that raise pastured animals so as to provide nutrient-dense meat, dairy and eggs. We also buy weekly organic fresh produce boxes from them. But when it comes to their Dutch-influence cuisine and baked goods, we don’t indulge, simply because (as you mention), they do use several non-whole food ingredients, which don’t fit our whole food ‘lifestyle.’ Hope this helps!
Lisa Parrott says
Thanks for sharing your article. Well done!
We are trying to eat more whole foods in Kenya and order our weekly fruits and veg from an organic cooperative. Bella and I like to go out to one of the nearby farms that supplies our food on the weekend and help with chores like planting lettuce and collecting the chicken eggs. It is a great way for us city gals to feel more connected to the earth, and what we eat.
Keep it up – both the blogging and the real food eating!
Lisa, thank you for your kind comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
I love hearing about how you and your daughter, Bella, are involved with an organic farm and its cooperative efforts in Kenya! How wonderful. This is more proof that the goal of being more whole foods oriented is global, not just national. And I agree – helping at your cooperative farm IS a great way for you and others who live in the city to feel more connected to the earth, to their whole food and to the farmers who produce it.
Wardee Harmon says
I am wondering, with all your moves, did you notice huge differences in prices of certain foods in parts of the country? If so, what foods tend to vary the most in price? Thanks for a great post. 🙂
Wardeh, thanks for your feedback on my post. I appreciate it! Yes, we have noticed price differences of whole foods in various parts of the country.
Some of it is a regional result. For example, organic almonds cost less per pound in many places on the West coast than on the East coast, simply because your suppliers are closer and are paying far less to ship. Another example is meat. If you live in an area where just two hours away you have pastured beef cows/meat available for purchase, you’re going to pay a lot less for healthy beef, than when you live in an area where there are no farms close by.
Another factor that could influence price is the USDA-certified organic label. In one location, we were only able to buy certified-organic raw milk, which was horrendously expensive (a lot of that price due to the fact of the ‘USDA certified organic’ label). There really were no other raw milk options available. In that location we just didn’t/couldn’t drink a lot of raw milk. However, in another two locations (one west coast, one east coast) we could buy raw milk from very, very clean farms that use ecologically-sound farming and raising methods, but which haven’t become USDA-certified organic. Their milk was safe, beautiful and tasty, and much more affordable than the aforementioned certified farm.
So all in all, it really depends on which regions you’re comparing, what’s accessible and available in those regions, and whether you’re purchasing certified-organic items or not.
Hope this helps!
Great summary and ideas on how & where to find real food sources! Thanks also for confirming how difficult it is to find LOCAL meat suppliers in SoCal. I was feeling alone and discouraged in that quest. But our wildly available fresh produce makes up for it.
Along with your “budget” topic for another article, I would love to read more about the correlations between whole foods and the mind/body/family-unit health. 🙂
Bethany, I’m glad you found this article helpful on how and where to find local real food sources! With regards to meat in the Southwest, you may want to look into pastured meat delivery companies. I know a few that deliver down there on an annual or semi-annual basis for a very affordable price due to the bulk amount you purchase at one time.
Also, thanks for seconding Andrea’s motion above to touch on the topic of budgeting real food for a large family. And the whole food connection to mind/body/family-unit is an equally intriguing topic. I will consider that for the future too. Take care!
Jenna- thank you for your excellent article!
I live in the middle of the desert and finding real food can be a pain here. It took me a good two years to find all my sources and I find more as I search. I’m getting ready to make a move to another state and was able to get in touch with the local WAPF leader up there. She was SO helpful and its nice to know I’ll be able to get what I need from good sources once I get there. 🙂
I am also curious how you feed 5 kids on real food. I have a hard time feeding just 2 adults and 3 little kids and staying in budget. It’s quite pricey and I’ve heard people say that I’m just not finding economical enough sources… but seriously, when you live in the boonies in a literal wilderness, how can you get stuff like raw milk and pastured eggs cheaper?
Anyhow, looking forward to more of your posts!
Hello Marie, I appreciate your support! Thanks for your comments on the article and I’m glad you found it helpful.
I understand the unique hardships of the desert, as we used to live in Arizona. I’m impressed you found your real food sources! It sounds like right now you’re on the right path, as you prepare to move to another state. Yes, getting in touch with the local WAPF can definitely be helpful.
It’s interesting that yet another commenter on my article (you!) would be interested in knowing how we feed five children (and their parents!) whole foods, while staying on a budget. I guess that’s an article I will need to author in the future.
Thanks again for your feedback!
We feel your “excitement for adventure” with the frequent military moves! We just moved 3 weeks ago, back to SC, and are feeling the moving “pains” associated with it! Our grocery budget has gone up tremendously just from one location to another! I have got to say, I truly enjoyed reading your article and hope to see more posted soon! We have planted several fruit trees and are planning our garden now but it will take time to get that all up and running so until then we will be using our local sources! Oh… and, by the time the trees produce fruit we will most likely be moving again ha ha!!!!
Keep in touch!
I’m so glad you brought up the idea that budget can significantly just by virtue of living location. We have found that to be the truth as well. Sometimes we have to decrease our frequency of eating a food in one place, even though in the last location, we were able to buy it with ease at an affordable price. For us, this is often true with raw dairy products.
I can also relate to the idea that once your fruit trees are bearing fruit, you may be ready to move again! To that I say – enjoy the process and learn from it. This can be just as fruitful (pun intended) as seeing the end result. 🙂
Thanks for reading, and yes – keep in touch. Jenna
Great tips for finding real local food, Jenna! Here’s one more tip: Check to see if there is a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation in your area. They keep lists of local farmers and producers in an area, which could give you an easy head start on your search. You could even do a fair bit of research before moving. For an example, check out our chapter’s listings in northern Colorado: http://wapffc.org/home/local_resources.
Thank you, Nancy, for your feedback and additional insight. In my section above entitled, “Use the Internet,” I could have easily added the Weston A. Price Foundation website, as well as several others, to my two examples. Thanks for adding it to the list! And yes, this site would be helpful to peruse before moving to one’s new location. Take care, Jenna
Hello friend! We’ve been traveling this summer and it has definitely been hard to eat well these last couple weeks. I have loved utilizing the Internet to find eggs locally and keeping a watchful eye out as we’ve been driving.
Can’t wait till you are back in SoCal -wink wink
Hi Sara, Thanks for chiming in! I appreciate your input on traveling and attempting to eat real food. I know how hard that can be. I love your idea of finding eggs locally as you’ve been driving. What a neat experience for your kids also! God bless, Jenna
Laura Cherry says
Excellent article!! I look forward to reading more from you in the future. 🙂 We just completed a move, though only to a nearby town, and I am grateful for your insight! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on feeding a whole foods family on a fast foods budget. ; p
Thanks for your feedback and encouragement, Laura! Yes, even moving to a nearby town requires an adjustment for whole food sources. God bless! Jenna
Thank you, Jenna, so much for a great reminder. My family and I are going to be preparing for yet another military move soon. I will be adding this to my moving binder!
Jenna Ettlich says
Great, Aubrey! I’m glad to hear this post will help! God bless you with your move, Jenna 🙂