Conscious Living: Local Resources for a Healthful and Sustainable Life

By Meryl Gwinn

It’s sweet summertime and it’s apparent, quite literally at first bite, as you sink your teeth into a deep red strawberry, carefully picked from the farmers market.

Senses are stirred and I’m reminded of humid Julys in the east navigating prickly blackberry bushes and strawberry fields. “Oh, you’re bored girls? Get a job,” said my mother, and it wasn’t so bad filling up those little green fruit baskets with delicious summertime indulgence.

Speaking of nostalgia, right now the food movement is about remembering our health is a direct correlation of what goes into our bodies. With the compromised state of our convenience- and dollar-driven global food system, food awareness has become a matter of life or sickness. The truth is, we are what we eat.

So what can we do? A great start is to choose fresh, local and organic seasonal produce. Why? Because things that have come recently from the ground, and moreover, rich, nutrient-dense soil, are more valuable to our health, environment and local economy. Buying organic ensures we’re getting pure produce from well-cared for earth that hasn’t been treated with harmful pesticides. Eating in season puts us back in harmony with nature’s cycles. Before the birth of refrigeration and preservatives, we ate what grew when it grew and were grateful for it—with less chemical side effects.

Purchasing from local farmers allows us to support small family organizations with honest intentions, and reconnects us with old-world goodness of simpler times. It cuts out the unsustainable process of spraying, packaging, freezing and transporting food intended to survive on dehydrating supermarket shelves. Organics are sometimes a tad pricier, but it helps to think of it as health insurance of your personal plan. It’s preventative medicine that’s priceless coverage, and it comes in a variety of colors and fascinating heirloom varieties.

Ninety cents more for poison-free agriculture or a $20 copay—it’s worth considering.

Visiting the farm stand at South Coast Farms is a joyful experience, and it’s here that you will taste the most delicious strawberries of your adult life. The 28 acres in San Juan Capistrano is the oldest working farm in Orange County, and its history of salvation from a “strip-mall casualty” fate by the people of San Juan Capistrano is heroic.

Farmer and establisher George Kibby and his crew are enriching the soil continuously to produce healthy, organic crops to feed those who have supported this land since the 1800s. Their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program supplies fresh farm boxes with seasonal produce to members at reasonable prices, supporting a direct relationship between farmer and consumer. Boxes come in multiple sizes and can be picked up at a variety of locations weekly or bi-weekly.
Both the stand and the CSA are supportive of foods from other local farmers in the region as well as non-local options in order to offer a variety of fare. Check out their website for some rich history on organic farming, www.southcoastfarms.com.

Days spent at the farmers market are enhanced by shaking the calloused hand of the farmer and choosing from his crop of vibrant yet soil-caked carrots. Imperfection is relatable. Recently at my house the bounty is supplied by friends’ and neighbors’ generously producing citrus and avocado trees and backyard gardens. Designing our meals around what’s available is actually more convenient and twice as fun.

There are loads of people around here growing their own food, restaurants offering local ingredients and inspiring community cooperatives taking root. In San Clemente, a member-owned market is being established to provide high quality foods and education that strengthen economy and ecology while enhancing the well-being of the consumer.

The San Clemente Community Market embraces ideas such as minimal packaging, bulk items and procuring local produce from several small farms in Orange and San Diego counties. They are currently in the process of establishing a store location. Check out their website and see how you can become a member-owner, www.sanclementemarket.com.

So let’s get back down to the earth this summer by slowing down and realigning our values, health and habits. Choose dirt over plastic, open air markets over big box warehouse stores and real smiles over those scary self-checkouts nagging you to, “put the item back in the bag.”

LOCAL FARMER’S MARKETS:

San Juan Capistrano
Wednesdays 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Dana Point
Saturdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

San Clemente
Sundays 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Meryl Gwinn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, has studied yoga, health, food, and humans around the globe. She is a constant pursuer of natural medicine and whole-healing solutions. Gwinn welcomes reader feedback at meryl.gwinn@gmail.com.

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the SC Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the SC Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at editorial@sanclementetimes.com.

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