Eat local, and make sure you plan ahead

In February, I wrote about my second of four visits with Sally, a friend and fellow Master Gardener who pledged to live for a year eating only foods grown within 100 miles of Medford. Here are the results of our third visit; number four will be in August.

"Last night I made stir-fry and used the last of my dried peppers, onions, zucchini and sweet potatoes," Sally told me. "It's a good thing spring is here, and that I have access to fresh produce at the growers market and online."

Sally says she is fulfilling her eat-local year because if every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week of only local products, our country's oil consumption would drop by 1.1 million barrels a week. A large percentage of that oil is used to transport food, and Sally would rather do her small part to help reduce oil consumption than to indulge in raspberries in January or watermelon in April.

What differences has this philosophy made in her life? Planning, mostly, Sally says. She has to think ahead not only to preserve food for the winter when it is still summer, but on a daily basis.

"If I want chicken for dinner," she says, "I have to think about cooking one raised locally, and not just stop at the supermarket and buy a pre-cooked one on the way home because I'd have no idea where that supermarket chicken was raised."

She said she is amazed at how much better locally raised food tastes. If she has dinner guests who do not know about her pledge, she says, they will often comment on the superior taste of the meat and want to know where she bought it.

Any negatives?

She still misses chocolate, and her favorite food, avocados. She is only mildly fond of oranges and other citrus, so a year without them is not difficult. Besides, she still has strawberries.

"Lots of frozen strawberries," she said. But they are being converted to fruit leather to eat as snacks.

Two websites Sally uses are and

The Buy Local Rogue Valley website lets people order local products online — including fruits, vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, goat, honey, jam, grains, flour, eggs, milk, cheese, soap and other personal-care products — and pick them up at one of several locations.

At my August visit with Sally, I'll learn whether she plans to continue her local eating program, as well as what changes she'd make.

Coming Up: From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 28, a workshop on Summer Care of Grape Vines will be led by Chris Hubert. The cost is $10.

From 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, Master Gardener Myrl Bishop will teach a class on Vines in the Rogue Valley. The cost is $5.

Both classes will be held at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. Call 541-776-7371 for information.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. E-mail her at

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