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From Food Desert to Food Oasis


A food desert is a place with no access to good food.  It can be a state of mind, a physical location or a time of year.  March happens to feel like the one food desert month for California.  It is when the slow growing crops of winter and the delay of the spring planting meet and we are offered Fava leaves, greens, more greens and CITRUS!  Even in the midst of the apparent food desert of March, there is plenty to work with and eat locally which makes me think that a food desert is really a state of mind.  One can be in the middle of a bustling farmer's market, eating kettle corn and completely unaware of what to do with anything more nourishing. We live in world where empty calories and highly processed foods are common and cheap.  Cooking from scratch has become a hobby and novelty and a skill.  We live in a self perpetuated food desert.
A while ago, my family and I took a trip to an actual food desert and there is a woman there who is trying to make a difference.  Mercy Hot Springs is only two hours away from just about everywhere and when you get there you realize you are in another world.  The place feels like it was stopped in time and that people throughout history have been making the journey here to soak in the mineral waters.  It's landscape is beautiful, barren and remote.
When Lisa Peterson arrived there, she quickly realized that the visitors of the hot springs needed access to good food to support their detoxifying stay.  She is developing the Mercy Hot Springs grocery service, which is an extensive collection of some of the best foods within 2 hours of the hot springs.  Lisa has realized that she has a chance to curate some of the worlds most nourishing foods.
The night of our stay there, Lisa made us dinner and we had a feast that Carlo Petrini (daddy) would be proud of.  Butternut squash soup from Pinnacle Farms just an hour away with fresh, raw cream from Clarevale Farms just 8 miles away.  We also had greens from Heirloom Organics which is just 8 miles away which were sauteed in a local olive oil.  We also had a variety of raw dips and desserts from a company in Sacramento (just 2 hours away) that were amazingly satisfying.
Lisa is really making a change at a place that needs it.  It was perfect to be nutritionally nourished while enjoying the effects of the mineral baths.  Camping food has the potential of being diminished to quick empty carbs, even for those foodies who normally cook from scratch.  There is a vision to have Mercy Hot Springs develop into a food oasis where people can stay a few days and still have access to the abundant local harvest.  It was very symbolic for me to see one person trying to make a difference in a food desert.  I feel like we are all working towards this in the larger food desert of modern culture.  These springs gave me the refreshment that I needed.  It was a simple retreat center that was affordable, family friendly and is just about 2 hours away from everywhere.  Enjoy some Happy Girl goodies from the store when you go!  See you there. 

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