Did you ever want to buy and eat local, but just didn’t know how? Were you too busy or too intimidated to ask?
I’m not sure what I expected to find when I drove to south-side Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Food Co-op’s annual meeting. They were having an open house, and all members and the public were invited. Together, we shared food and fellowship, and it felt as though the years of the world wide web were far, far away.
You can join the co-op for $35.00 a year, a small price to pay to reach at least eighty different made-in-Oklahoma producers. Nearly everything you could want is offered from soap (lavender and/or goat’s milk), meat (lamb, beef, bison and goat), poultry (chicken, turkey and eggs), dairy (butter, buttermilk, cheese, etc.) I’ve ordered two months now, and everything I received was of the best quality. It was a joy to actually meet the producers.You can also buy jewelry, wool, along with laundry soap and so many other things. The list is enormous, and the first time you order, a bit confusing.
If overwhelmed, head over to the producer notes where the farmers, ranchers and gardeners tell of their lives and products; or, head over to the Co-op’s YouTube channel and listen to the board members and producers. I especially enjoyed the show with Cattle Tracks. You not only know it’s fresh from the farm, but whether it’s an Angus or a Charolais Cross calf, a Berkshire hog or a Cornish Rock or Cornish Cross hen.
At the annual meeting, I met everyone I’d corresponded with by email like the lovely ladies of Cocina San Pasqual, who make tamales of all kinds including vegan, enchiladas, brownies, their own New Mexican sauces and a fantastic pink cactus jelly. They were so kind when they said to simply write in my product description for no cheese on my enchiladas, and they would prepare it that way. Although they were busy, they patiently explained sauce ingredients checking to be sure I could eat their foods. In fact, everyone I spoke to understood about food allergies and cross-contamination which was such a relief.
Kindness was the watchword at the open house. Members and the public went from booth to booth to sample different products.I had the best chicken salad I’ve had in a long time from Jerri Parker at G-J All Natural Beef (located in Okemah). Her son, Calvin, sells eggs from his flock of Rhode Island Reds. When I remarked that it was the best chicken salad I’d had in forever, Jerri said, “Oh, I’m not really a cook. It’s the chickens. They’re free range and fed a special supplemental diet so they have real flavor.”
You can even buy beef and lamb from the Monks at Clear Creek Monastery helping them with their mission while eating the best nature has to offer.
At another booth, a woman spun carded wool from her own sheep, alpacas and llamas into yarn. Shepherd’s Cross farm is owned by Diane Dickinson and her husband, Peter. An agri-tourism site, Shepherd’s Cross has a full curriculum including tours of the bible garden stocked full of plants named in the Bible. The softness of the wool made me think of scarves and hats so I bought two roving braids of dark and sandy brown wool. I am making a scarf, and the wool is so lovely to knit.
As I watched people coming and going, it evoked a simpler time of neighbors meeting to share the best their farms had to offer, but while this co-operative has roots in the past, it isn’t stuck there. Its use of the Internet to reach customers is a great step in the right direction. Where else can you get cheese from Hardesty, meat from Broken Arrow and eggs from Tryon all from the comfort of your living room and only a keystroke away? Ordering opens the first of each month and continues until Midnight the second Thursday. Once your order is finalized, you then pay with PayPal, or write a check on the pickup day which is the third Thursday of the month. See how easy it is?
You can pick up your purchases from one of the dropoff locations across our fair state, or for an additional fee,your food is delivered to your home or business.
All of this couldn’t be done without a legion of volunteers, and I am amazed at their generosity.
Buy fresh and eat local Oklahoma. Together, we can save our family farms and Oklahoma ingenuity one click at a time.