To be the person I am today, my journey started with food. When I was a child, my foodie experience was mostly through my mother and father with occasional ventures at school that would open my mind. We had a apple tree at my childhood house I remember the most and my mother even had a period of toasting her own granola and juicing everything in sight. As a child I remember my mother making a watermelon-cherry juice in her juicer, and it turning out so naturally sweet for us kids, that she never made it again.
Still though, learning about organic food with my mother as a child didn’t include much past that. We were responsible at a certain point as children to be able to make our own cup of noodles, and basics like eggs and canned soups. And I even remember making a few batch of cookies as a teenager whenever I would feel down, baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies would always make me feel better. But the chore then was finding out if mom even had all the ingredients to make them in the house, and if not well, then no anti-depressant cookie making.
I do remember an experience in elementary school making pop-corn balls as a class, and actually I did take home economics class in middle school and do a little cooking then. We learned how to sew and operate an oven and do some basic cooking at school which was a bit of an experience for me. I even had a final of going home and making a menu for my parents and a meal to go with it, and I remember my mother helping me with a awesome menu (which I still have to this day) of stuffed mushrooms and fancy salad, but the truth is she never made me cook it, but I told my teacher I did.
Really I did not have much “organic” education as a child. Of course, you know growing up that an apple is better to eat then a donut, that much I knew. But I never knew that I could go wrong by picking up and eating a monsanto apple.
So truth be told, I have been eating “dirty” food all my young life. My mother was on food stamps for as far back as I can remember and now I am on them myself. I remember when food stamps were actually paper and my mother would send me for groceries with a handful of paper “ food stamp bills”. Now everything is electronic and on a E.B.T. Snap benefit card.
I learned how to manage money for food at a young age, trying to buy in bulk and save things in the discount section is second nature to me, and I have know the wonders of the “dollar store” my entire life. I still buy things at the “dollar store” but very rarely food. I have learned a few things in a very short period of time about “organic food” and thankfully from the most kindest of people.
After leaving my mothers home as a young adult, and meeting the love of my life, I came across the most amazing environment of Sebastopol and the wonders of a open minded awesome family of farmers at the local downtown farmers market. I also got an assignment in junior college to watch the documentary Food Inc. which changed my whole perspective on eating organic food.
In early 2009, after I met my future husband; I would walk around the market with a fan of freshly pressed photographic postcard art, and sell from my hand, while admiring the wonders of the market. I was blessed with a conversation with the market manager that went well and viola, a free artist booth was born. It started out on my husbands long board in a corner by the stage where they performed music and in 3 years I branched out to have my own tent and a booth full of art.
I got to know the local farmers and they would collectively donate enough extra produce for my whole family each weekend to support us for the whole week. Some even told me that it was their 10% charity they needed to support their business license. In turn with each new basket of new produce, I had to ask the farmers how to prepare and cook it.
Now at the time we were living out of a converted garage and other not so great living arrangements, so my kitchen items were very “dorm like” I had an electric wok, which I readily abused and a double burner electric stove, and (gasp) a microwave for about 6 months. I also had a counter-top mini oven at the time and used it for some baking.
I learned so much food knowledge that I was incorporating food into my coloring book line of art. I made a book with the title “ I eat the rainbow” with a rainbow array of fruits and veggies for kids to color and learn about. Right before my departure from the farmers market in 2012, and moving into Mendocino county, I even developed a “ Farmers Market Cookbook/coloring book” with all my best farmers friends own recipes submitted and myself doing the illustrations for them.
I have to say that organic produce from the farmers market, changed my life. My son, now 5, grew up eating everything he could from the market. And I got as much as I could get my hands on. I tried things like nettle, sorrel, squash blossoms, even burdock and salsify, from the market. I tried things like purple carrot, diakon and watermelon radish. I loved finding the locally brewed “green drink” at the market and I would sustain myself at my booth with local lemonade and other awesome amazing eats. I tried Indian food for the first time and got many many plates of it, at the Sebastopol farmers market. Even the hot food vendors would donate free food to the starving artist mother. I was reveling. Things are a little bit different for me now, since mid 2013, when we moved to Mendocino county.
Thank god I have found a sort of equivalent here in Fort Bragg, Ca. I have the local food bank, which in comparison probably gives me more food then I got from the market years ago, at times. I get to stock up on free produce of whatever is donated and mostly its in season things from local farmers and such. I am amazed at how much fresh produce I get each week from them. I am lucky to be a part of an organization that can donate so much local food.
So as I think back on my life and foodie experiences so far, I mostly think of how lucky I am to be poor. I know that my sound odd. But I have gotten so much from the sebastopol community when I needed it that I know I could not have gotten if I have more money.
I am low income, I have been raised low income. I know how to eat well now, low income..hell I even know how to eat well free, and its all thanks to compassion from others because I was poor. I am never going to have a lot of money to be able to eat whatever I want when I want it. But thankfully I am as rich as they come when it comes to organic food availability, and more importantly local food availability. I am lucky to be living in northern California, the mecca of organic food. The farmers and friends I made in sebastopol and by going to other markets has taught me so much.
I even love walking around our local farmers market here, sometimes when all the tents are just setting up, cause I love that energy. I can feel the organic food energy synergism at any farmers market, everyone just wants clean good local food and the feeling is contagious. I may just be strange and oddly in love with the market scene, but out of all the scenes to be addicted to, I think its a pretty healthy one.
Since moving here I had to spend 9 months off grid before we found a apartment to live downtown. For those 9 months we learned all sorts of things, I cant believe how much food knowledge I crammed into living in those conditions.
I learned how to forage for my own cooking wood, chop my own cooking wood, make a cooking fire outside and in a wood stove. How to cook on a wood stove and maintain it for heat during the winter. I learned how to garden for the first time, we had a beautiful garden and I grew a whole bunch of fresh veggies, from snow peas, to celery to cherry tomato and even herbs.
I learned how to cultivate Calendula and even use it for herbal healing. I learned how to make my own beeswax herbal salves for healing. I learned how to make organic rat repellent that works. I learned how to live so freely from that experience, that we hope to retire off grid when we can. I loved the experience of doing everything for yourself.
Boiling water on the wood stove to do your dishes. Collecting rainwater to wash with, bathing in an outside shower. Everything about our experience then was rich, and we never had any money. The one time we did, we bought a truckload of dirt for our garden and spent the whole day mixing it.
We worked for the beauty around us and it helped us appreciate so much more. Its one thing being in an different environment and not having money, its another to thrive and be happy. We did that.
We spent our time off-grid and then we got a kitchen-less apartment downtown fort bragg. Yes I said kitchen-less. I had to be my most creative with my “dorm kitchen” aka “closet kitchen” abilities cause it was a very tight space. I had my rice cooker and electric stove on top of the mini fridge. It was a very small space, but with the help of the food bank, we still ate well. For 7 weeks, we crammed inside a very small room as a family of 4 including dog.
Until a full kitchen and bathroom place was available. We are now living in what seems to me, the largest space we have ever had as a family and by far the largest kitchen, I have ever had the pleasure to call my own. I now have a stove, an actual stove, not the one I had on my counter before, this one can cook multiple items and has even supplied heat for a whole thanksgiving dinner for us already.
To say the least I am finally able to cook properly and boy am I having fun. I already know so much from the market and my foodie experiences that I am finally able to try everything out. As many on Facebook know, I have been crazy cooking since I got my kitchen and have had my Facebook page chronicling my foodie fun since 2012.
Never have I had the ability to make things such as bread, casseroles, cookies, cakes.. just about anything in the oven. And now since our first Christmas in our apartment, my kitchen is stocked with more “dorm appliances” then the word. We have a air popper for popcorn, a toaster, (lol) 2 blenders, 2 crock pots, a rice cooker, and even a Belgian waffle maker. And I even received my first own electric beater for Christmas, and oven gloves and even a silpat!
My foodie fun is only beginning, but I figure you all may want to know where I come from and how I came to be “boho mom”. You see we have this weird thing in northern ca, nicknaming some behaviors as “bohemian” and I am convinced that my foodie palet is not only “bohemian” in the sense of the California hippy definition but also in defining a french Bohemia gypsy style. I am beginning to even recognize the styles I chose to cook are very “ french bohemian” I love gardening and all organic produce and I consider all experimentation in the kitchen to be foodie fun, hence the Facebook and word-press title, “Mom’s Organic Bohemian Food Fun”. Thanks for reading about my foodie journey. And I hope to chronicle it all more as it comes!