We asked Alison Carroll how she stocks her desert home in Joshua Tree.
Two years ago, my husband and I made a big decision: We packed out of our wood-shingled Silverlake house and headed to the high desert of Joshua Tree to the boarded-up spider den of a cabin we had just closed escrow on. We traded Moonjuice and Sqirl for the Home Depot pro desk, and a big date night out is now sushi at the local Travelodge motel. My eyes opened to the fact that it was going to take a lot of creativity to maintain a balanced and healthyish lifestyle here.
First things first: The answer to staying healthy in a food desert is not to simply drone in all the supplies you need, but to find a way to work with what you’ve got. Support any local food systems, no matter how small or obscure. Barter with your neighbors—I swap our Wonder Valley olive oil for eggs from the neighbor next door who keeps chickens. Adjust your diet to your region, even if that means eating less meat or fish. Learn about native plants and get outside and forage. In knowing that restaurant options are painfully limited, that extreme care went into sourcing every ingredient and mindfulness to cooking it, there’s decadence to this simplified way of living and eating. Here are some other lessons I’ve learned along the way about living the good life in a rural place:
Make your kitchen your favorite restaurant
I take pleasure in cooking and eating, and, chances are, if you’re reading Bon Appétit and Healthyish, you do to. When we moved to a food desert, my kitchen had to replace a lot of the restaurants we said goodbye to. So I bought their cookbooks, and I bought things I wouldn’t have been able to justify in LA: new knives, a juicer, and a tortilla press. We built my dream wood-burning outdoor kitchen, and we’re sharing our space more than we ever did before with friends, neighbors, and visitors. And, when we need to mix it up, we barbecue or picnic in the national park behind out house.