Thursday, September 20, 2007


Walking around the Farmer's Market today on a mission to pick up some Oaxaca Mama salsa, I was reminded by the gigantic piles of gorgeous produce all around me that September is Local Food Month here in Humboldt. As previously mentioned, every day should be about eating locally as far as I'm concerned, but if you haven't discovered the bounty we've got going on here, now is certainly a good time.

My suggestion? Get yourself down to Fortuna right now and pick up some Clendenen's apple cider. This little roadside stand complete with an orchard in the back has been pressing cider since 1909, and they're still doing it the same old-fashioned, unpasteurized way. Pasteurization takes away that just-picked-from-the-tree taste, and Clendenen's refuses to do it and lower the quality of their cider. Thanks to the whole nasty Odwalla E. Coli outbreak in 1996, you can't buy Clendenen's cider in stores anymore - only from the Cider Works itself. And that's not such a bad thing because then you might get to meet Clif.

Not only does Clif Clendenen make the best freakin' cider in the world, he doesn't let a majority of irritating Fortunans who constantly complain about having to drive clear to the metropolis of Eureka to buy underwear (will somebody puhleeze open a damn clothing store down there so they'll shut up already?) sway his opinion that a big box like Walmart won't be anything but a sprawling blight on the town he obviously loves. Clif rocks. He'll tell you all about which apples went into the cider you're buying, since it varies based on what's ripe. He knows the subtle differences of the myriad of honey bottles warmly glowing in the window. He'll even show you the cider press if you'd like, and if you're really lucky to be there on a day that they're making it, he'll give you a sample straight off the press.

I always grab a few bottles when I go - at least one to share with an uninitiated friend who will be frightened by the warning label but immediately converted by the taste. And another to put in the back of the pantry. The beauty of unpasteurized cider is that in a few weeks when you pull it out, it's fermented, bubbly and tastes like the sweetest apple champagne.

And unlike thinking about a Walmart invading your town, the splitting headache you'll have in the morning is totally worth it.


Tapperass said...

God Bless their Underwear, their ONLY PAIR!!!


Keri said...

AHHHHH, champagne. There's nothin' quite like the hangover of 17 and 18 year old cousins sneaking it at their grandpa's retirement party. Shoes off, hair askew and us serving cake to a bunch of senior citizens as we slide down the wall and hung out under the table (laughing our asses off). But my favorite part was when dad drove back to Bakersfield from Willow Creek the back way and he only pulled over once after all those curves. I have never loved a rest stop toilet as much as that one!


Anonymous said...

Ah, someone knows Clif well enough to spell his name correctly.

I like Clif. A lot. As much as I understand the draw of big boxes to shoppers, I also understand the issue. And to a great degree I am torn.

When I attended the farmer's market at Wildberrie's the other day, I noticed the prices of produce was absolutely staggeringly high. The sign said, "Hand Dug Potatoes" $2.00 per pound. I saw someone buy about six potatoes and pay $6.50. What the? When a 10lb bag is what, "$1.79" at Winco.

Can anyone understand the draw of the big boxes? Why do they exist in the first place? There is a large portion of our local society that really can't afford to shop in upscale natural foods stores and the chain stores provide them with lower cost and convenience. It's a pretty simple business concept. And, one that really works well.

That said, I really would not like to see the charm of Fortuna go away with the onset of big box retailers, but I'm afraid it will happen. And mark my words, they will be packed with customers.

Name one small independent grocer in Fortuna that is not a gas station convenience store. I can only think of one. The Campton Heights market. And you couldn't do your weekly shopping there.
How about Eureka? Myrtle Avenue Market and whom else? This progression towards large retail has been happening steadily for a long time.

Yes, Clendenen's Cider Works makes a wonderful product. And also has a great offering of fresh apples in season. An era gone by. Will there be another generation of Clendenen's after Clif? I just don't think so. Not unless there is a huge turnaround in buying styles from a new generation of shoppers.

Why aren't there shoemakers anymore?

Fred Mangels said...

"When I attended the farmer's market at Wildberrie's the other day, I noticed the prices of produce was absolutely staggeringly high.".

I can't say for sure as I've only been to one farmer's market- the one in Henderson Center, Eureka- but seems to me produce at farmer's markets is always way up there. I was surprised anyone would buy any of the produce.

I don't blame the "farmers". I'm surprised they find it cost effective to drive all the way to Arcata or Eureka to sell a few vegetables. Still, I don't see why anyone would want to pay those prices.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Kristabel, Clif Clendenen is one of Fortuna's finest. It is people like him that make Fortuna such a great place. The article in The Journal was quite an eye opener. Aw progress, and all that goes with it.

Kristabel said...

Fred and Eko,

Yes, Farmer's Market prices are definitely higher than Winco - and for good reason. The prices are HONEST. With industrialized agriculture the costs are hidden but are paid for by taxpayers, society and the environment - subsidized oil and water, pollution, antibiotic resistance,crop subsidies, food borne illnesses.... not to mention the disconnect from our own communities.

It is really hard to eat locally - especially when you've got kids to feed and you make a Humboldt County wage. It takes a lot of energy and a willingness to re-think the way you shop, cook and eat. I often fail at it, but I keep trying because I believe it's important.

Kristabel said...


I've no idea what you're talking about. What champagne? What cousins?

(I think I still have that picture somewhere.)


Carol said...

Nice post and an important issue.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you for trying the salsa, one of your intrepid readers mentioned it to me at the market last week.

It is exciting and gratifying to us that you and your readers love our product, as much as we do.

We really do appreciate you all!


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Anonymous said...

thanks for the reminder its apple harvest time I loooove that cider! Always put some in the freezer for later...

I went to the farmers market in Henderson Center this week, only had $2 left for a $4 zucchini to stuff for dinner and they made me a deal! Lets pay what we can but dont forget to barter. You cant do that at Winco :)

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