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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Thirsty?

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.                                                                                                                                                                                  The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Have you begun to notice that we have a problem with water?  Or several, actually.

First, there is shortage. California, for example, is in the third year of a drought and reservoirs are drawn to lows never seen since the days they were first being filled. lake shastaaThis photo, taken by Graham while I was driving on I-5 in northern California, shows how that the water level in Shasta Lake is about 50 feet below normal. The local tourism newspaper is trying to put a good spin on it saying that fishing is great since the fish are all concentrated in the areas of deep pools. In reality, this is a sign of bad trouble.

Agricultural production in California provides nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts consumed in the United States. This year farmers are finding the reservoirs are unreliable so much of the water is coming from underlying aquifers.  UC Davis, the premier agricultural college in the state, warns that continued use of the aquifers means it will be dry within 2 years.

No water……for much of California.  The results of that are going to be horrible.Folsam damElsewhere, like Charleston, West Virginia, throughout much of the states that have fracking, and other areas where industrial dumping occurs, ground water and surface water is becoming more and more polluted with hazardous effects on health.  In West Virginia the dump may have been accidental but as soon as the corporation declared bankruptcy and reorganized with the expedited assistance of the court system, the collusion of the people in power was shown. There seems to be little concern about safety of our water. I wonder what the people in power are thinking; do they think they are immune?WV water

Hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas occurs in many states and although the mining companies have always assured people that there is no danger, many environmental changes have occurred in those areas since the operations began.  Besides the increased earthquakes throughout Oklahoma, the chief concern is ground water pollution as well as surface water pollution. The EPA has been conducting a study with results expected this year but many other organizations have documented the substantial decline in safe drinking water in those areas.  In addition, many of the areas where companies have enticed landowners for fracking leases are agricultural, which means pollution effects on animals and crops are also beginning to be identified. That means the food you purchase to eat, even if it is organic, could be affected if it originates close to a well.Fracking Farmland 615px

If you shrug this off, thinking you are not affected since you don’t live in these areas, you need to think again. Perhaps you don’t cook so you don’t purchase fresh produce. Perhaps you don’t eat almonds or walnuts or other nuts. Or perhaps you just don’t do the grocery shopping. Prices in supermarkets around the country are showing higher prices for fruit, vegetable and nuts because of the long term drought in California.

Please recall one fact you probably learned in school. Over 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, with 90% of that in the oceans. All water that flows over the land ends up in the ocean. All aquifers have some connection as well.  If you use well water, you are pulling from an aquifer. When you water your lawn, when you take a shower, that water goes into the ground via a septic system or it enters the sewage treatment system and therefore flows back out into a stream or river.   As waters mix with contaminants, it gets polluted.

 

ground water polutionThink you can manage by using bottled water? Did you know that no one checked the quality of the water in those bottles so it actually may be more polluted than your tap water. I won;t even talk about the wasteful use of the plastic bottles right now.

waTERThe bottom line: there are many countries in other parts of the world, places we consider Third World, who have long been suffering from a shortage of safe drinking water. The United States is rapidly falling into their level. Some areas of the nation have 5-30% of the people receiving polluted water through their public water supply.

Thirsty?