Enjoy the adventure. All journeys begin with one step, and you’ve done that by joining the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. This will be an adventure of discovery, so you might as well enjoy it!
Gather knowledge. Know the farmers who produce your food. Every producer has a page here at this website that tells their story. Read about these people, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them. They are your neighbors, your “Personal Farmers”. Get to know them and think of them as your friends, because that’s what they are. Get to know yourself too. Many of us make food choices without much thought, we may read a label or two, but that’s about it. How much food does your family need for a given period of time?
Start with the basics. Cook from basic foods. This is the true secret of great cooking. Use the best local ingredients, and you have a winning combination. As an added bonus, cooking from basic local foods is a good way to cut your overall grocery budget. You can make your own convenience foods, and there are many time and labor saving techniques you can learn. You can make your own snacks too, and they will be a lot better tasting — and healthier — than the commercial junk food inventory.
Eat with the season. When you think about it, most people eat the same standard stuff all the time, day in, day out, week after week, month after month. Yet, the earth brings for its bounty in this area according to seasonal rhythms, and we can add a lot to the quality of our lives by following those seasons. Be open to learning new things about food and experiencing new taste sensations.
Save for the future. Learn some basic food preservation techniques and take advantage of seasonal availabilities. The easiest is fermenting, followed by freezing and dehydrating. Make your own condiments!
Buy in bulk. Generally, the more you buy, the better the price. Think about how much food you buy, and make appropriate plans. Once you get a handle on how much food you need, plan ahead. If you determine your family will need say 3 pigs a year, talk with the pork producers about contracting with them to produce what you need on a schedule. It will help the farmer – because the critical question always is, “How much should I produce,’ and it will help you – because you will always have what you need on hand.
Consider all the costs and benefits. Before you decide, “this local food costs more”, be sure to add in all the costs involved, including those related to the quality of the fresh local foods versus the standard commercial inventory product and the price of medical care caused by conditions relating to poor diet choices. For example, the label on ham often reads, “Ham and water product”. So figuring the true cost of that product requires understanding that you’re paying ham prices for however much water they added. How “cheap” is that, all things considered? We also need to realize that some of the “cheapness” of certain ag industry foods comes from exploiting workers, degrading the natural environment, treating animals with great cruelty (routinely!), and the destruction of rural communities. These things are never pleasant to think about, but closing our eyes to these realities doesn’t make them go away, especially when our dollars are encouraging them and making them possible.
Food choices have consequences. Because the choices we make about our food have repercussions far beyond our family tables, eating is a moral act. There are grave issues with our food systems these days. People are concerned about contamination of the food supply, the routine use of antibiotics and growth steroids with meat and dairy animals and birds, the decline of rural communities, genetically engineered crops and animals, the continued consolidation of the food producing industries (from field to supermarket), pesticide and herbicide residues on fruits and vegetables, the inhumane treatment of meat animals and birds in the confined animal feeding operation system, and the degradation of farm lands by commercial production operations.
All of these problems are largely driven by consumer choices and corporation decisions. By making better choices, we can reverse these negative trends and thus contribute to the stability, sustainability, and prosperity of ourselves and our neighbors. In this we are all connected. You should have no doubts that the dollars you spend with Oklahoma Food not only buy you very tasty and high quality food products, but they also will help reverse the negative trends of these times.
Celebrate finding a better way to do food. If you always do what you always do, you will always get what you always get. Food habits are major issues for most people, change is not always easy, but with Oklahoma Food, there are “instant gratification” advantages, especially when it comes to taste and nutritional benefits. One reason grandma’s food tasted so good is that she often had access to fresh local ingredients. Oklahoma Food also offers the ultimate in convenience for busy folks – home delivery. As time passes, and you learn more about how to take advantage of the great seasonal tastes of Oklahoma, you will find that embracing a better way to do food is indeed a matter of celebration. Tasty food, healthy nutrition, and incredible convenience, this is what your local food future looks like. Y’all bon apetít, you hear?