Monday, September 10, 2007

Home Grown

This month, the good people at Locavores and the Eat Local Challenge website are hosting their third annual month-long eat local challenge. The challenge, as the name implies, is to eat foods grown and produced locally, generally within a 100 mile radius of your home. This includes finding locally grown produce, meats and dairy products to enjoy at home as well as finding restaurants that support local farmers and use their products in their dishes. Well, yours truly has decided to join in the fun, and will do whatever I can to eat as much bay-area grown food as I can in the coming weeks. I should mention, however, having grown up in the "green-belt" of California, the great Central Valley, I will make allowances for products grown in and around my home town of Lemoore, California. I will, of course, make it a point to find things grown by small, independant, and hopefully organic farmers. But really, home much closer to "Home Grown" can you get when it comes out of your Mother's garden?

Recently we stumbled upon a pair of Jam producers out of the Santa Clara Valley making apricot jam from the rare and endangered Blenheim apricot. The reviews of this small-batch jam were unanimous: It was the best thing anyone had ever tasted. Ever. So, we thought, why should we not try the best tasting jam in the known world, jam that tastes so good it causes seemingly normal people to eat an entire jar in one sitting? Why not, indeed. From a lone Blenheim apricot tree growing in their backyard in the Santa Clara Valley, once a beautiful and prosperous apricot orchard, these two guys began to produce their amazing jam for their family and friends. They then discovered just how fragile and difficult to handle these fruits were, and just how endangered the species had become. As their jam grew in popularity, spreading from their small group of family and friends to others wanting to taste this delicious elixr, they started trying to find more farmers of the apricots to make more of this fantastic jam.

Eric and Phineas, the two knuckleheads just crazy enough to try something like this, are the epitome of locally grown small farm producers. After discovering the nectar of the gods in a small batch of jam from an ancient apricot tree, they began finding other farmers who grow these delicate little drops of heaven to help support the local small farms of the Bay Area and help preserve the Blenheim variety. So far they have succeeded: After years of producing around 100 jars of jam per year, they are up to around 7000 pounds of jam this year. Needless to say, the jam is amazing, and so are the two men behind it. They have dedicated themselves to preserving these wonderful fruits and the people who grow them, a noble cause no matter how you shake it. This is the reason we eat locally for this challenge and all year round. These guys are the reason we make the effort, the reason we spend an extra few minutes thinking about what we put in our mouths. You can read more about these two, their amazing jam, and the fun they have making it here. Then, check out their website, and please, order one of their fine, hand made and carefully prepared products, at The batch of apricot jam is almost gone, so if you want some, you better act fast.


Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon said...

Browsing the Eat Local Challenge, I found your blog. I thought that you might be interested in our website Loulies which has two features: (1) "e-bites" which are sent out , on average, twice a week via email. The are short musings on anything and everything inspired by food and always include a great recipe, must-have tip, menu idea, new ingredient discovered etc. You must sign-up to receive the e-bites. (2) A Cook the Book club for those who want to learn to cook better with us (like a traditional book club, but we cook instead of read - this is how Suzanne and I met over 10 years ago and have learned to cook better with friends - it is really a great concept).

Please go to our website and sign-up to gain a better sense of who we are and how our site works. Everything we have written so far is archived on our home page.


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