Skip to main content

Peaches and more

Yesterday we handed out the sweetest of peaches thanks to a generous donation from Circle Foot Permaculture.   Along with the quarts of peaches, we also provided Samaritan House Food Pharmacy clients a handout with nutritional information on peaches - how they impact your blood sugar - and a recipe for a Roasted Peach Parfait.  Here are links to the handout:

Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (English)

Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (Spanish)

It all seems somewhat routine at this point: 

  • gather donations of locally grown produce
  • quickly pull together helpful nutritional information based on the week's donations
In retrospect, this is the culmination of 3 years of effort to create a network of local gardeners, foragers and volunteers - with a goal of becoming a reliable source of fresh produce for lower income families struggling with diabetes and other health disorders.  

While it has been known for some time that eating fruits & vegetables can positively impact a person's health, the supply of fresh produce has always been driven by market forces - meaning only the well off could truly afford to buy organically grown produce at Whole Foods and the farmer's market.  At the lowest incomes, the availability and convenience of inexpensive fast food and processed food has resulted in higher incidences of diabetes, obesity and hypertension.  

What food you put in your body is a choice you make many times each day.  It takes time to find affordable and healthy ingredients - and more time to prepare a meal from them.  It takes money to buy fresh ingredients....that have flavor!  If your time and money are both limited - your food choices are as well.  These are the dynamics of our current food system. 

Back to the peaches....

Until recently, the best peach I'd ever tasted was in Pikes Place Market in Seattle.   My niece and I still reminisce about those peaches - so moist that you needed a shower after eating one.  Sweet.  And the smell!  Eating a piece of fruit like this puts your mind a million miles away from a bag of Cheetos.  Not to mention all of the nutrients packed into that fuzzy orb.  

The peaches handed out today were harvested just a few days ago from a small, local orchard.  They traveled less than 20 miles and would easily fetch $3/lb or more.  Clients could hardly wait to get them.  This is the kind of food you remember.  The flavor & aroma make a lasting impression.  You look forward to your next one.  I believe it's this type of fresh food that can change eating behavior.

Since COVID, our interactions with anyone outside of our "bubble" are less frequent and shorter in duration.  Food assistance is a good example: stay in your car, open the trunk and keep the windows up.  Fear of the virus eliminated the ability to choose.  Our GROW table at the Food Pharmacy is an exception.  Clients choose the herbs, fruit and vegetables they prefer.  And in that brief moment of bagging the produce, a client is handed nutritional information and a recipe they can go home and prepare with the ingredients coming from the GROW table.  

Jill at our GROW Table at the Samaritan House Food Pharmacy in Redwood City, CA

We are so fortunate to have volunteers, like Jill Goldring, who can quickly crank out a nutritional handout in just an evening's time.  The document creates a conversation moment - a chance to briefly interact and inform.  Clients have seen Jill every other week since the beginning of April, so there's a certain level of trust and familiarity that can help her communicate the nutritional message (even if her Spanish is very bad...sorry Jill).  Community is being built at the GROW table a little interaction at a time.

Gardening has always helped to sustain us in times of crises: the Victory gardens in the United States in the 1940's; the backyard gardens in Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990's.  No doubt, gardening cannot replace agriculture, but we're seeing that it can play an important role in helping those in the community struggling to not just feed themselves - but nourish themselves.   Gardeners play an important role in enhancing the health of the entire community. 

To all the local gardeners who have donated to the Food Pharmacy - thank you.  Each week we start at zero and end with a full GROW Table of fresh produce.  It's amazing to see so much generosity on a weekly basis.  You're the best.



Popular posts from this blog

#LeavetheLeaves - Do nothing and help the climate

With signs of the climate emergency now in constant view - you may be asking yourself: "What can I do to make a difference?  Choices in consumption are obvious examples - with a view towards the fossil fuels involved, ie. what we eat (fertilizers, pesticides, mass farming), how we get from one place to another (ie. gas fuel) and the energy we use to power our homes.   Another opportunity is right outside the front door. The suburban lawn was something we invented in the 1950's as tracts of homes sprouted up by the thousands.  Someone thought it would be appropriate if homeowners had lush, green grass in their yards - and the rest is history.  Billions of dollars are spent each year on lawn maintenance - and importantly for us in San Mateo, CA - millions of gallons of water are also used to keep them alive.  Lawns are the largest crop in the U.S. and produce nothing, other than an outdated aesthetic - yet the majority of residential water usage is sent into the air through spri

Turn your lawn into a garden!

With the pandemic keeping us socially distanced and largely at home, you may be thinking about transforming your outdoor space into a garden.  Having gone through this in 2014, I thought I'd share some practical advice to hopefully save you some time and effort. Sheet mulch complete (July 2014) Six years later (August 2020) Tip #1: Don't dig...mulch! Your first instinct may be to start digging, but there's a better way - it's called "sheet mulching".  You basically use cardboard, compost and wood chips and make a lasagna of organic material on top of your old lawn.  In essence, you compost the old lawn under layers of organic material.  Here's a photo of our sheet mulch in progress: Sheet mulch in progress.  Notice the new material is simply placed on top of the old (brown) grass The white powder is a combination of gypsum & azomite, which puts minerals back into the soil that have been gradually leached away over time.  The dark brown is compost.  The

Getting Started: Wine Barrel Planters

Gardening in a small, urban space requires a bit of creativity.  Our challenges are many: buildings & trees frequently block sunlight;  various critters like to snack on new seedlings and just ripe fruits & vegetables; and here in San Mateo, irrigation is a must.  To increase your probability of gardening success, consider adding recycled wine barrels into your urban garden.    Having tried many types of growing containers over the years, the wine barrel has made it to the top of my list.  My galvanized tubs always seemed to need more water than wooden barrels - perhaps due to the different heating/cool properties of the metal vs. wood?  Aesthetically, a recycled barrel looks like it's been there for years - which I love.  And the smell!  There is no comparison. Cost is definitely a consideration.  A wine barrel at Home Depot is $40 whereas a 35 gallon galvanized tub is $55.  You might say that growing in the ground is $0.00 - but in some locations, the extra 18 inches off