Budget-Friendly in the Kitchen
I’m big on local food, and on helping children understand how each meal really gets to the table. It’s kind of sad that so many kids nowadays think that food is simply dispensed my McDonald’s or the Taco Bell drive through, or even magically concocted by their parents every day. It meant a lot to me as a child to visit local farms and see where our food came from, and I still enjoy making trips to the local u-pick places with my family today. Here are some good ones in the San Diego area.
Carlsbad Strawberry Company On Cannon Road, 1 block east of the I-5 www.carlsbadstrawberrycompany.com This large expanse of strawberry goodness has the best berries around. At about $8-9 for a small bucket (which fits a pound, two at the most) and $17 for a large, you’re likely spending more than you would to pick up strawberries at the grocery store. However, you can totally make up for that by eating as many strawberries you’d like while you’re picking (clean them as you go to play it safe), and it’s well worth it spend a fun day outdoors with the family. Take cash – they don’t accept credit or debit cards (locals can pay with checks, however).
Raven Hill Orchard 1284 Julian Orchards Dr Julian, CA 92036 (760) 765-2431 Head on out to Julian in the fall to get your fill of green, red and gold apples. The cost is about $10 for half a peck, and there are lots of nice wineries nearby if you’re on a grownup date! Bring cash – no credit cards are accepted. Call ahead to make sure they’ll be open when you arrive, as they tend to have sporadic business hours.
Julian Mining Company 4444 State Hwy 78 W Julian, CA 92036 www.julianminingcompany.com Check this place out for berry picking and apple cider pressing, along with fun adventures like panning for gold, making candles and learning about native americans and the revolutionary war. You can even dig up a fossil here or check out animals in the petting zoo. Bring a picnic and spend the day!
Bates Nut Farm 15954 Woods Valley Rd Valley Center, CA 92082 www.batesnutfarm.biz We come pick our pumpkins fresh off the vine here every Halloween, but this place is fun year-round. Chop your own Christmas tree, pet the little goats, cluck at the chickens, or just have a picnic and read a book under a tree. They have a huge gift shop with nuts, candy and fresh farm produce, and they do accept credit cards.
Weidners’ Gardens 695 Normandy Rd Encinitas, CA 92024 www.weidners.com Here, you can go dig up plants like flowers, bushes and fruit treest to transplant into your own backyard. The Weidners are such genuinely nice people and are eager to answer customer questions. They even have a children’s corner where kids can decorate a pot and plant their own sweet peas or pansies.
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch 14950 El Monte Rd Lakeside, CA 92040 www.omaspumpkinpatch.com There’s no u-pick fruit or vegetables here, but they do offer great insight into food production. Oma’s is a fun-filled pumpkin patch in the fall, but also offers in-depth tours of their dairy in April and May. Go see the barn and feeding area and watch how the farmers raise calves and bale hay! Pack a picnic and slide down their cotton seed hill after your tour.
It’s always an interesting discussion at mealtime to ponder the farmers who grew our food, shippers who brought it to the grocery store and even the store clerks who help people check out with it. Do you talk with your children about the process food goes through to get to their table?