goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Shopping for a Market

If you’ve been reading this or any of my blogs you know one of my passions is discovering and then sharing access to local food.  After the wonderful experience working with The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia, including writing blogs for it, we made our move west to Oregon and I began to make connections with the local food scene here. Graham was trying to get me more involved with the local wine scene, but that’s another story.

This winter I met a group of people in Forest Grove, a city of about 22,000 an hour west of Portland.  They wanted to have a year-round indoor local food market and, like most people who have never experienced a different model, they were conceptualizing a once a week move-the-outdoor-farmers-market-inside model.  It works pretty well and is used in many areas. Consumers have access to local food, even in the winter, and the farmer has a bit of income that may or may not substantiate sitting around for 6-8 hours.DSC_0012

When I offered to share some information about a different model of market twelve people showed up and we have been working diligently towards an indoor market based on the Wild Ramp  with wonderful nuances because of the location in the Willamette Valley.

mapFor example, with the Wild Ramp we at first thought we might have to go as far as 250 miles to be able to stock the market. We were very pleased once we mapped the farm locations and saw that most were within a 50 mile radius of Huntington. In comparison, though, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is so abundant that we have set a 15-mile radius for our initial contacts with local food producers! We know of a few food products, like seafood and flour, where the distance will be a bit more.

DSC_0261On our recent trip to California I spent the time on a busman’s holiday, visiting other markets.  While in San Francisco Graham and I visited Bi-Rite. Located in the Mission District, this 1800-square foot market is packed with high quality food sourced both locally and worldwide. They strive to find local growers who produce flavorful fruits and vegetables as cleanly as possible. Samples are offered gladly and the staff was amazingly friendly and helpful, and a lot of fun.DSC_0331

One of the produce staff suggested I check out the Monterey Market in Berkeley once he heard I was planning to head that way later in the week. It also offered a lot of produce, much of it local, but something felt missing. It was when editing the photos that I realized I had seen only two staff working in the aisles of the huge store, compared with a stronger and active friendly presence at Bi-Rite.  Customer service is a key component for providing a pleasant shopping experience.DSC_0549

I had long been hearing about Berkeley Bowl from my daughter Lisa who lives in that city.  The two-store supermarket opened as a small neighborhood market in 1977 and based on arrangements made with growers at and since that time, can offer an amazing array of produce, much of it local, at very low prices.  In fact, generally all the prices I saw throughout the store were amazingly low. Since I have a better understanding of what it actually costs to produce healthy food, it made me wonder how the local farmers could afford to wholesale their crops so inexpensively and still make a living in California.  Even organic produce was less expensive than what the conventional produce is priced in the supermarket where I shop.BB

2014-08-02 08.16.242014-08-02 08.16.49While on our trip I saw some great ideas for the Forest Grove Market at other places. For example, Gayle’s Bakery in Santa Cruz is where we ate breakfast one morning. It had an amazing array of prepared foods for breakfast, lunch and supper as well as baked goods and coffees.  The huge staff provided service quickly and efficiently, even to first-timers like us who were a bit overwhelmed with the luscious selection.  A large dining room provided plenty of space to sit and enjoy the selected feast.2014-08-02 08.17.42

After I got back home to Oregon three of us made a trip through the Cascades to the city of Bend where the Central Locavore Market is located. With a business model more like the Wild Ramp, the Locavore helped us see once again how fortunate it is that we live in an ecosystem with more abundant rainfall. The Market extends beyond their locality to offer a full array of shopping needs, including cleansers and paper products made with minimal impact to the environment.

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Finally, when in Bend we visited the Newport Market, an upscale specialty market with a lot of local ingredients. I was particularly impressed with their produce display and would love to copy it somehow!DSC_0142

We are narrowing down the possible locations for the market in Forest Grove and then will start the fun task of designing the layout and taking our imagination of the decor and using the elbow grease to make it a reality!


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Economic Patriotism

I heard the term “economic patriotism” on NPR a couple of days ago.  The discussion was about how the term was used politically over time but it did not seem to come down to the “man on the street” level.  I can bring it there I think and I also think you can live with it.buy Locala

We are climbing out of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Some areas of the country are still feeling pain. Some never really get to fly in good times so their “normal” is lower than other areas’ “good”. Regardless, if your area has some sense of economic development, you perhaps are seeing more signs of business activity, more job openings, more people enjoying going out to the movies, to restaurants and similar optional opportunities for spending.

Whatever your political leanings, you can help the economy in your area become more robust. Each time we shop anywhere we are throwing money into the vast world of business. When you go to the grocery store, for example, and buy your week’s worth of groceries, whether you spend $20 or $200, you are contributing to the world of business.  If you shop at a national or regional chain, like Kroger (some affiliates are Fred Meyer here in Oregon, Kings Sooper in Colorado and Ralph’s in California) or Wal-Mart, very little of  the money you spend there stays in the community. If you shop at a locally owned grocery store (IGA or even one not affiliated with that network) then more of your money stays right in the community. If you shop at your local farmers’ market and buy directly from local food producers, ALL your money stays in the community.shoplocala

That works for other goods and services also. Today I had to go downtown and used the one trip-many errands practice to pick up shampoo in the small local grocery store that has healthy products and also stopped in at the local office supply store for copy paper. I thought afterwards about the price I paid for that paper instead of saving about 50 cents by driving about 4 more miles to Staples. I probably paid a little bit  more than the cost of the gas (in my Prius anyway) but I knew I was saving time. I also was putting money into a locally owned business, a better option for the local economy than the national office supply store chain.

This is economic patriotism. This spending an extra 50 cents to help the local economy can add up to a HUGE difference if each of us would do it.shop mom and pop

When I was in West Virginia and involved with The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington we once figured out in a given week the average expenditure in the market was $15. We also estimated that if 10% of the town’s population would spend that average $15 a week in the market, the return to the farmers would be over a million dollars a year. While The Wild Ramp Market is extremely proud that in the two years of its operation over $400,000 has been given back to local producers, the difference of what has been and what could be is amazing.

It means YOU need to step up. You need to show you want this nation to be healthy. Your buying patterns make a difference. Are you willing to be considered a patriot?  Can you put economic patriotism into practice?shoplocal

Can you switch from consumerism as dictated by advertisements on the television and in magazines to locating and supporting locally made goods. In your area there are people who are passionate about producing high quality goods that would make superb useful items in your home or as gifts. There can be great pride in knowing your purchase can make a huge difference in someone’s economic health.

I’m not talking charity. I’m not talking giving money without getting something of value. I’m talking about buying American made goods. I’m talking about buying locally. Can you be a patriot?

 

 


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Eating with Thinking

When I was growing up my mother, a nurse, pretty much followed the then-accepted USDA guidelines for meals: a good size helping of protein, 2 vegetables, and a starch like rice or potato or pasta. We did not eat additional bread with dinner, but mom was a baker and we almost always had dessert.  One side benefit: I learned to cook from scratch.meat-and-three-veg1
Some time in my 20s I dated a guy who was going to medical school. He convinced me that I was not eating a well-balanced healthy diet and urged me to take vitamins. He thought one-a-days were not the way to go. Instead, I soon was taking multiple tablets, covering my vitamin and mineral needs.vitamin-list

My mother was appalled and equated my vitamin usage to my sisters’ smoking habit. Really Mom? I ignored her but over time, the daily regimen got tiresome and expensive and so, I stopped.

When kids entered the picture I once again went back to preparing meals more on my childhood model. I cooked from scratch almost all the time but enjoyed certain prepared items. For example, I purchased bobolis instead of making my own pizza dough in those days.fajita

Time passed. Kids grew up. I started visiting farms and learning how much our food system had changed.

sci amOne issue I read about was about the declining nutrient value of the fruits and vegetables we are eating today compared to those I ate as a kid. This article from the  April 27 2011 issue of Scientific America confirmed it.

  • Dear EarthTalk: What’s the nutritional difference between the carrot I ate in 1970 and one I eat today? I’ve heard that that there’s very little nutrition left. Is that true?—Esther G., Newark, N.J.
  • It would be overkill to say that the carrot you eat today has very little nutrition in it—especially compared to some of the other less healthy foods you likely also eat—but it is true that fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

These farming methods used chemicals to try to enrich the soil. And then in the mid 1990s things changed even more with the beginning of genetically engineered seeds and genetically modified foods. All of a sudden the gastro-intestinal issues my  daughter had had since her teen years might have a simple solution. And similarly, so might some of my own health issues.

So, even though we had no known food allergies, we ran a 6 month experiment. Where ever we knew the farmers’ growing practices, we purchased that food. Where we needed another ingredient or food, we switched to organic. know your farmer

Our effort was to try to improve the nutritional value and cut out even more chemicals, either inside the food as an additive or inadvertently absorbed by the food because of the conventional growing practice.

Six months became a year and now several years have passed. Oh, I’m still eating sugar and whenever Graham and I make a good effort with a South Beach diet, cutting out and then re-introducing carbs at lower levels, I do much better. But overall, I have this to report:

BFBHLogoUnless I eat indiscriminately at any old place away from home, I feel much better. No more tummy troubles. Hardly any twinges from my arthritic joints, and what exists is at a level easily handled by an herbal compound.  I sleep better and wake up feeling high energy.

So, we will be on the road again soon for a trip. While I have researched a few restaurants for several dinners out, I suspect we will run into some eating compromises. heart-health-foods

Travel……eating well at home……travel…….eating well at home…..I LOVE to travel, so I will enjoy and cope and eat well again when we get home.

What about you? Ready to try a new experiment and see if changing your diet can help you feel healthier?


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Blueberry Bliss!

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way 
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day: 
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, 
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum 
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!
Robert Frost
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You know that much of “blueberries” that are in processed foods are not real???? There is no excuse to be eating some chemical wanna-be when the REAL DEAL is fresh and ripe and ready for you most places in the U.S. right now!!!

Luscious sweet juicy blueberries. Some of the early varieties are ripe. Earliblue bushes at the Beach Family Farm in Sherwood, Oregon are loaded!!!  So are the 3-year-old Duke bushes.

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If you’ve never picked blueberries before it is very very easy.  You pick the (ready for this?????) the BLUE berries.  In the photo above you can see some are light green (not ready), some are white (not ready), some are light purple (not ready) and some are blue (READY!!!)

It doesn’t take long to pick. At the Beach Family Farm you are given a bag lined bucket and a web belt to hook around your middle. It has a grommet which holds the bucket clip so you have both hands free for picking and the bucket is easy to reach. More berries in the bucket. None on the ground!! Maybe one or two in your mouth.  $2/pound is the same price they have charged for three years and less expensive that the other UPIck farms in the area.

Daily hours are 9:00-4:00, Wednesday through Sunday. The Beach Family Farm is located at 27626 SW 147th Avenue in Sherwood, Oregon about a half hour southwest from downtown Portland.  Anyone who lives in the southwestern suburbs are within a very very few minutes of yumminess.

Blueberries, by the way, are one of the easiest fruits to save. You can pick a bunch, eat some fresh and freeze the rest for later use. The people at the farm will be glad to give you instructions.DSC_0001

http://www.beachblueberry.com/                                                                                                  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beach-Family-Farm
(503) 625-6314
9:00-4:00, Wednesday through Sunday                                                                                                                                                     27626 SW 147th Avenue in Sherwood


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Aiming for Decadence

My raspberries are slowing down a bit so I have begun to get more thoughtful of how I plan to preserve them. While my first batch of jam ended up too watery, it made an absolutely wonderful raspberry sauce so I decided to repeat that. I discovered, though, that I had tossed the recipe since it had “failed” its intended goal.  A bit of internet research later, I was busy simmering and, following my sister’s suggestion, filtered out the seeds.  But I got to thinking. (Rousing chorus of “uh oh” now)DSC_0001

I started preparing my tried and true hot fudge sauce recipe from my Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream recipe book. It takes almost 2 hours to prepare and is worth every second.

DSC_0002So then I had a finished batch of raspberry syrup and a finished batch of hot fudge sauce. Checking a few  recipes for proportions, I set up 5 bowls for Graham to taste test: 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5 with raspberry being the increasing proponent.DSC_0003

When I laughed at him going back for a second taste, he assured me scientists take second measurements. Boom

1:4 won and I have now canned 8 half-pints.

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And of course have a pint jar in the frig for immediate consumption. Have to be sure it’s tasty, you know. All part of the experiment!

Brownie sundae with homemade vanilla-blueberry-strawberry ice cream and chocolate raspberry sauce

Brownie sundae with homemade vanilla-blueberry-strawberry ice cream and chocolate raspberry sauce


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Berryland

We’re renting our house in McMinnville and lucked into a backyard full of food. There’s an herbal garden that got Graham excited from day one, a rhubarb plant that had my name on it, two blueberry bushes that are full full full right now of green berries and I have been warned about the birds, two apples trees, and a eight foot long bunch of raspberry canes.2014-06-22 12.35.47

Those canes have been producing a ton of raspberries and the unripe ones show we still have weeks ahead of us, so I knew I had to develop some canning skills.2014-06-22 14.17.08

My past attempts of making jam has been mixed. I have made my share of rubber cement and I have made a couple of edible jars. My first attempt making raspberry jam a week ago ended up producing terrific syrup.

I have now switched recipes (Back to the Ball pamphlet) and yesterday managed to make several jars for enjoyable edible consumption.  Also tried to dry some (so-so results) and made some leather (that was better).2014-06-22 18.45.32

I’m learning!


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Cupping a Cuppa

Having recently moved to Oregon, we are happily finding that we are on many of our friends’ summer vacation itineraries.  We take our job as host of the Rankin B&B seriously and try to thoughtfully plan our visitors’ time here to not only show highlights of the area but match those destinations with our friend’s  interests and hobbies.

We have a family coming soon who has no interest in tasting wine or any of the other alcoholic beverages this region offers.  That set me back for a moment or two but I polled my local friends and added their suggestions to my list of locally prepared foods with tasting rooms.  I am now sure we will have more places to visit than we will have time when they arrive!2014-06-13 09.47.39

One friend who lives in Newport told me that one of the local roasters runs their business a bit differently. On Fridays at 9:30am Caravan Coffee offers the opportunity to blind taste two coffees in their weekly public cupping activity.  We were offered to first smell the freshly prepared grounds and describe what nuances we could sense. 2014-06-13 09.42.47Then the hot water was poured over the grounds and we waited a few minutes for the grounds to release their flavor. 2014-06-13 09.52.48 Finally, a third table had been set up with see if we could distinguish between the two coffees.2014-06-13 10.01.35

We were given the opportunity to taste coffee from Brazil and another new one from Thailand. The distributor was there and told us how the Thai government had recently restricted cutting of the teak forest, which the locals had been doing to sell the wood as well as clear the land for rice planting. By introducing shade grown coffee his organization is helping to stimulate the local economy.Caravan-Info-graph-700x1024

Caravan Coffee is one of many coffee roasters in the Northwest but their statement of sourcing is a bit different than most:

  • A member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (Since 1998).
  • 100% Arabica coffee.
  • Only source Specialty Coffees.
  • Certified Quality Grader & Certified level 1 & 2 Roasters Guild whom only chooses ethically sourced coffee for our roasting.
  • We have direct-relationships with some of our farmers and are actively pursuing more.
  • Certified Fair-Trade coffee.
  • Certified Organic Coffee by USDA.
  • The Proprietor and Roastmaster have personally visited several farms from which their coffees are sourced.

The coffee is available at the shop and tasting room at 2750 East 9th Street in Newberg and online individually or as a member of the Coffee Club.  If you are a serious coffee drinker, this may be worth your time checking out!hand_picked_club_subscription-510x600