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Fresh Food On The Road

As Published In Airstream Live Riveted
Fresh Food On The Road

Do you find yourself eager to stay away from fast food chains while on the road? Do you crave local and fresh food but don’t know where to find it? The best part of traveling is to be able to immerse yourself in regional culture and fare, but sometimes we need some tips on where to find locally-grown food! Today our full-timing friend Ramona Creel is sharing her best advice on how to find the freshest food options to delight your taste buds while on the road.

Travel Food Doesn’t Mean Junk Food

Airstream -- Fresh FoodI recently took a day-trip from Los Angeles, stopping at a shop run by an orchard to get some of the most delicious California black dates I’ve ever eaten (which I then stuffed with chevre and walnuts). Complete and total mouthgasm!

This small yet tasty diversion reminded me that one of the central joys of full-timing is having easy and inexpensive access to local foods. And with the start of summer upon us, we’re coming fully into “farm season,” one of the best reasons to be an RVer — the best way to try a variety of regional seasonal foods. While I love funky chains like Trader Joe’s, family-owned markets are still my preference for good local cuisine — alas, they’re getting harder and harder to find.

You used to be able to go to a new town and discover a grocery store you’d never heard of before, filled with exotic goodies they didn’t sell back home — now it’s all the same, consistent but boring, no surprise, no excitement. (Or am I the only person on the planet who requires excitement from a food shopping experience?) That’s why it’s such a wonderful surprise to turn a bend and a see a hand-painted “fruits and vegetables” sign on the side of the road!

Most people have no idea what really fresh foods taste like — produce that lived in local dirt and was allowed to ripen naturally in the sun, instead of being grown in another country, sprayed with chemicals, “forced” into season, and shipped in a refrigerated cargo container. You also get your dinner cheaper when it comes straight from Farmer John’s field. And variety? Are you kidding me! I’ve bought salmon jerky and dried morel mushrooms in Oregon, pesto and garlic-stuffed olives in California, homemade orange blossom marmalade in Florida, fiddleheads and dulse in New Brunswick, and fresh make-your-teeth-squeak cheese curds in Wisconsin — way more interesting options than what they sell at a regular store! I also tend to eat more “in season” on the road — I get whatever’s being harvested at that time, in that region. That might mean cherries in Washington, artichokes in California, lobster in Maine, or crab in Maryland — but because they’re available for only a limited portion of each trip, I enjoy these treats all the more while I do have them.

Another fun way to reconnect with your food is to visit a u-pick farm or CSA. U-picks are pretty straightforward — you go into the field or orchard, pick your own produce, have it weighed, and pay for your purchase (at a much less expensive per-pound price than in a grocery store). I’ve self-harvested tomatoes, citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins, corn, Christmas trees, and pecans — but some items just don’t seem to show up on the u-pick list. (Where are the farms that let you dig up your own ‘taters, I ask?) U-picks used to litter the landscape, but are a bit harder to find now. We had at least a half-dozen u-pick farms in my town — all but one have been plowed under and covered with a shopping center.

CSA stands for “community-supported agriculture.” This ingenious system allows consumers to directly support those local farms that use use sustainable and organic methods — in return, they own a piece of the harvest. You either buy “shares” up front (which help pay for materials and labor) — or you can put in some sweat-equity during the growing season, doing actual work on the farm. Either way, you get a portion of the crop each week as it comes in. I used to own a share in a CSA farm outside of D.C., and the bounty that sprung forth from that little patch of ground was unbelievable. Each week, I had a mix of greens, fruits, veggies, and even legumes to take home and cook up for dinner. This farm planted unusual crops along with the commonplace, to introduce people to new and interesting foods — I eat a pretty wide variety of veggies, but I’d never had a salad made of tat soy, Cuban spinach, and yellow pear tomatoes until I joined the CSA. Your produce ends up costing way less than in the store, and you have a ready-made assemblage of healthy foods waiting for you every week. And during peak periods, your CSA might even have an “all-you-can-pick” policy — when tomatoes and strawberries were in abundance, we went home with enough for canning, freezing, and making jam!

We love Ramona’s advice on how to find fresh, local food while traveling around the country. Not only do you get to try new foods you have never tasted before, but you get to meet locals and help regional farmers and food producers along the way!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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