April vacation has arrived, and many people are hitting the road. My son is his way to Florida to play baseball with his high school team; my daughter (Abby) will be heading up the coast to help her friend's family open up their camp. Even my husband is going out of town--though a three day out-and-back business excursion to California could hardly be called a vacation.
I kept threatening to be a chaperon on Campbell's trip. Not that I was particularly interested in watching a week's worth of baseball, but I could easily have seen myself hanging out on Cocoa Beach. Of note, my son has been many more places in his fourteen plus years than I had been at his age. To be fair, his excursions are typically sports-related, and he usually pays for half of the costs. Still, my wander-lusting, spring-fevered self is a wee bit jealous. Unfortunately my chaperon plans didn't pan out--our family money tree has yet to bloom. (On a happy note, we do have an actual money tree at the office, a birthday gift courtesy of Angela and Jaime. I'm posting a picture here.) So Sophie and I will be holding down the fort in Yarmouth. Ah, April in Maine. Mud and melting snow. Though if we're lucky, we will continue to have the gorgeous weather we have been blessed with this past week.
Listening to the travel plans of others has caused me to consider the travel eating conundrum again. After my previous blog on this, my friend Marlena wrote:
Scouting out grocery stores, bringing your own snacks, tucking away food inside a hotel fridge and bringing your plateware seems to be the immediate answer. I think the GPS organic food tracking device would be great. I know Get Real, Gethas a listing of restaurants in the area that use local, organic food-wouldn't it be great if there was a listing up and down the ! Add to that vacation spots-we were are the Coco Key resort in two weekends ago-it closed down soon after because of high levels of chlorine and people were getting sick (apparently our family has a certain chlorine shield), it would have been nice to know of alternative eating places and a Trader Joes/Whole Foods/Natural Harvest place in the area. It seems that MOGFA has a list started.
I like the way Marlena thinks: find a good supermarket and buy things there. Angela, my project manager and partner-in-crime, agrees. Before a recent trip, she found herself at our local Whole Foods. This store opened up in Portland on Valentine's Day, 2007. Sadly, it took over Wild Oats, which (in my opinion) had a more varied bulk food section. Nonetheless, Whole Foods has been wildly successful. The parking lot is always filled, and it's presence has caused other local markets to put more emphasis on organic foods. Which is a good thing.
Angela gave Whole Foods rave reviews:
What took me so long to make a trip down there? I could spend an entire afternoon there. I could also spend a large fortune. I got my lunch there, and I got prepared food to take with me for lunch on my trip tomorrow. I learned last time that the food on the train is quite repulsive, and I went pretty hungry on that long trip! This will be so much better! Yea yea, I could make my own sandwich, cut up my own fruit, etc, but this is easier for me. The people around me on the train will be drooling over the yumminess that I'll have brought.
So we could suggest people go to Whole Foods for meals, because they have a nice salad bar and a lot of decent prepared foods. :-) I know they're not everywhere, but they're in a lot of places.
Why isn't Whole Foods closer to my home? Perhaps I'll start doing more grocery shopping there, despite the half-hour drive.
Like Angela and Marlena, I think it makes sense to research local natural food sources before traveling. They don't necessarily have to be of the larger variety. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are good resources, but they tend to be situated in larger cities. Plus, it is always nice to find and support local business owners, especially if they are bringing healthy, sustainably produced foods to their communities.
I'm glad that MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) has started a list of local and organic food vendors, and that Get Real, Get Maine is also on the case. I assume similar resources are available for other states/countries. It would be helpful if these were pulled together in one place--coupled with a listing of restaurants that serve local/organic food that tastes great. Preferably restaurants that offer vegetable and grain-based options (i.e. meat-free). I have yet to find this resource. I even posted a request for this on craigslist. Unfortunately, I got no responses.
For now, I'm asking my friends and colleagues who travel to take notes on their eating adventures. One such individual is my acquaintance (and long-time dental hygienist), Marie. She is embarking on a cross country tour in a few months, and will be setting up a blog to detail her travels. I can't wait to hear what she has to say.
I'm also continuing to do my own armchair traveling. I've been reading Julia Child's My Life in France and Frances Mayes' A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller. Cordelia, the owner of New Elm Farm, where we have our farmshare, has suggested
a most interesting book by the famous herbalist, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, called Traveler's Joy. It is about her years as a young adult and parent when she led a very gypsy-like life. There is a whole section on food. Reading your blog made me get out the book to re-read some parts. Of course she was traveling in the early-mid part of the 20th century when foods were still mostly whole. It is fascinating reading – would highly recommend it and would be happy to loan it to you, if you are interested.
I will probably take Cordelia up on her offer.
Until my own backyard money tree blooms (it still has yet to even sprout), I will continue to seek travel eating suggestions from those of you who are out and about. I will be with you in spirit.
Today I leave you with a photo taken from our recent foray to Northern Maine. In the end (so to speak), as important as eating is, other bodily functions do occasionally take precedence. When that happens, having a clean place to engage in such bodily functions can be much appreciated, no matter whether it is in Cocoa Beach, in France or in one's home state...