For one year, two women exclusively ate food produced within Mendocino County… Now, they will write a book about their adventures…


From Sarah & Gowan
Eat Mendocino Kickstarter Project

How Eat Mendocino was born…

The Eat Mendocino project was created from a belief that healthy, fresh local food can be accessible to all and that local farms are critical to addressing food insecurity in our communities.

We embarked upon a year of eating exclusively local food because we believe that the key to healthier people and vibrant communities lies in creating strong local food systems. So, we put our bodies to the test. We decided to embody the local food web by becoming entirely dependent upon it.

How this project is different than what Barbara Kingsolver or Michael Pollan did…

“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver changed the way that many people thought about food. Her efforts to produce her own veggies and meats and support local farms were laudable we love her writing. Here on the Mendocino Coast, the Noyo Hill Farm said that they had more people sign up for their CSA program the year that her book was published than ever before. Which is awesome. But, when people compare our project to her endeavor, we have to clarify that what we did was far more intense, consuming, and geographically bound. She purchased staples such as grains, oil and spices from the store. Their family was allowed exception foods such as coffee or chocolate and they ate out at restaurants. Our “rules” were more unforgiving. We ate only local grains, oils, and spices, made our own sea salt from sea water, and removed all imports from our lives. Our goals were less about what we could do as individuals and more about developing local sovereignty and food security in the place we call home, without exceptions. We love Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan and they have indisputably changed the world of eating by raising the level of consciousness about food.

This year Michael Pollan also published a book called “Cooked,” in which he traces the human history of cooking with the elements (fire, water, air, and earth). Listening to him talk about his experimentation with these different methods resembled many of our own adventures. Our days were similarly filled with slow cooking bone marrow broth, fermenting sauerkraut, kimchee and vinegars, grilling and roasting, or canning pickles and jam. Of course, when Pollan wanted to learn a new skill such as baking bread, he was flown around the world to be trained by the best bakers, or the best brewers, etc…

We didn’t have a budget for such extravagances, nor international fame and attention, or a pre-arranged book deal. There was no gimmick to our endeavor; we were two women who put our trust entirely in our community to keep us alive. We took a leap of faith with limited time and money, but with lots of essential relationships with farmers, ranchers and food advocates throughout Mendocino County. We ate what was in season, not what was trendy. We cooked for survival, not out of curiosity. We learned how to do things by Googling recipes and enlisting our mothers, friends, neighbors, strangers and ex-boyfriends to help us figure out how to bake sourdough bread, cook beef spare-ribs, and forage wild edibles. This while Gowan was running a farm-to-school program which produces food for the school district, feeding the healthiest local organic food to low income students, and Sarah was running the Mendocino Farmers’ Market and her own business. We blogged at night after working, cooking, and doing the dishes, sometimes typing furiously while attentively stirring the milk to make yogurt.

There are many voices who have raised awareness and interest in a different food future. Eat Mendocino adds new dimension, texture and depth to the story of what is possible.

Why we want to write a book:

Now, we want to take all of our bootstrapped, ridiculous adventures – from harvesting sea salt from trying to date as locavores – and turn them into a book that you can hold in your hands. We want to show how we discovered our community through food, and show anyone how they can be a locavore, anywhere. We will talk about how to reconnect with the land in new ways, find local food, and cook adventurously without recipes.

Now that we have completed the year, we realized that this is a story that people want to hear, and that this is a book that people want to read. It is our homegrown contribution to a fierce and mighty food movement that values people, nature, community, and the future. It will serve as a roadmap to show how local food can help us all live more fulfilling lives.

Be Our Valentine!

Our goal is to raise $5,000 by February 14, 2014 for the book writing project. If we don’t meet our goal, we won’t get a single dollar that was pledged. So, please don’t send imported roses or chocolates; what we want most this Valentine’s is to meet this goal. Ultimately, the book itself is a love letter to food and community, so it seems appropriate.

We have set a modest fundraising goal to serve as seed money for the first stages of writing the book. It will allow us to do some interviews & research, compile stories & memories, begin writing, and pitch an agent. Hopefully that will lead us directly to an eager publisher. If we exceed our fundraising goal, we will be able to allocate more time to completing the book, and also cover any travel expenses for meeting with agents, publishers, and eventually promoting the book.

Thank you for supporting the next chapter of the Eat Mendocino project. And thank you to everyone who has fed us, supported us, and followed us via the blog and our Facebook page! This is a journey for all of us, and this is just the beginning.