Updated 2009-03-08 16:03:58 ID=332:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Susan McGourty's Table Talk, a California Central Coast Lifestyle blog. 2011-06-09 16:33:16:80
©2008 The Romantic Table

Susan McGourty's Table Talk

Planning For This Summer's Coming Produce Shortages

Cutbacks in California water allocations will affect you and your grocery bills this year. A home "survival garden" will help you make it through.

We just received our latest "AgAlert" newspaper and it has some scary news affecting California's Central Valley farmers and us consumers too.

Because of a zero allocation of water deliveries this summer to the San Joaquin Valley farmers, most of the farmers are not planting their usual annual crops such as tomatoes for canning, and corn. This will really affect us all! The Central Valley is home to most of California's canning industry, which in turn supplies the Nation with its products.

If nothing else, this fallowing of farming crops will cause sky-high prices on the processed tomatoes and such that are available!

California and the rest of the nation is in its deepest recession in decades. Now with more expected food shortages occurring, this is really going to make this year tough! What to do?

Even before we learned about the water cutbacks to our farmers, my husband and I decided in "self-defense" in these hard times, that we had better plan to have our own "survival garden." So we're planning on growing a lot of the basics that we use during the summer months-especially tomatoes.

Farmers Markets are wonderful, but even in good times, their prices are a little higher than discount grocers. And with credit and money so tight, we're all having to make changes and roll-up our own sleeves and take charge of the situation in "self-defense!"

This whole situation brings back memories of when my husband and I ran our restaurant "The Country Cousin". One year first we had "beef shortages', then "chicken shortages," then "potato shortages" and then finally "onion shortages." I tell you, trying to maintain a decent menu with these obstacles was not fun! We went from one "throwing up our hands" episode to another!

Deja vue all over again! With the same kind of shortage forecast for the summer months, the one thing we can do as consumers, is be our own supplier. If you're smart, start thinking now about your summer meals. What are some of your "basics" that you could grow that will ease your bottom line, ease your anxiety, and feed your family?

For us, the number one cost-saver would be to grow the bulk of our own tomatoes (especially since they're going to be either sky-high price-wise or unavailable), and herbs such as fresh basil, thyme, chervil, oregano, mint and garlic. Of course we have to factor in our extra labor and garden-set-up expense, but hopefully if we plant wisely, our "survival garden" should bring with it the piece of mind of independence.

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A tip from Sue!

An easier way to pound your meats and poultry

Been frustrated by plastic wrap that won't stay as you pound your meats? Save yourself some grief by using an extra plastic bag from your grocery store's meat or produce counter. Simply place the breast of meat inside flat between the top and bottom of the plastic bag, laying flat and pound away.