Archive for March, 2012

A Run on Raab

Our PSU Farmers Market opens Saturday, March 31st at 8:30 & closes at 2. Last week we had sunshine and rhubarb, this week we should have more rhubarb.

Well rhubarb and Raab. Raab, the very thing I am having for dinner tonight with olive oil, red pepper flakes and pecorino, is the cause of some controversy. And by controversy, I mean it’s not very controversial at all, rather just something to disagree about: Purist believe raab is rapini – the green tops of a plant that is a variety of turnip, brassica rapa. The less rigid, feel raab describes the the flowering portion of any brassica plant. I’m not going to weigh in on who’s right or wrong, only point out that technically a hamburger is a chopped steak, prepared Hamburg style – rendering the diminutive ‘burger’ as in cheeseburger or gardenburger meaningless. Do we really want to be that way? Language conveys thoughts, ideas and emotions. Engineering denotes specificity.

Also with my raab dinner there will be a small green salad. Our colleague Jamie claims the greens from GardenRipe are a joy of spring, while Anna votes for Springhill’s chicory and Asian salad mixes. Jamie also wanted to note that Persephone’s purple cauliflower, which she claims was so pretty it was hard to eat, but once she did, it was delicious. Anna also mentioned Oak Villa’s prunes as noteable, knowing that I am a prune enthusiast – a designation I’m unsure about.

This isn’t a promise but asparagus is getting close to being ready. Really close. If the crop cooperates with the market schedule, there could be a very limited supply available – Early birds get the spears. Winters and Rick Steffen are good starting points on the asparagus quest.

Plant Me!

There are vegetable starts and perennials ready to stick in the ground. Blue Heron, French Prairie and SunGold will all make you look like a master gardener by sundown. Flowers from Simply Daffodils or Lucky Flowers will mitigate the lack of sunshine and if not, Alma’s Chocolates will help you assuage the feeling that sometimes accompanies the gray skies.

Easter and Passover are a little over a week away, check with SuDan, Pine Mt, Sexton Ranches, Pono, Columbia River Fish if you need to order a special lamb, roast, fish for Easter or Passover meals. Check back on this blog Sunday when friend of the Market, Elizabeth Miller will have instructions on how to dye eggs naturally.

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How Green Our Valley Is

Whole grains are delicious: wheat berries are chewy, tasty and go so well with roasted chicken. Oats, not the prepackaged, instant, cloyingly flavored variety, but the real deal, slow cooked and inviting. Buckwheat – kasha, a food that compliments and contrasts springtime asparagus perfectly. The problem with adding more whole grains to our diets isn’t a lack of desire, or locating recipes, it’s often finding the products.

100% Local

This is doubly true if you track down an ingredient and wonder why crops that are grown up and down the Willamette Valley, the Inland Empire and as ‘far’ away as Montana are being imported from Ireland, Italy or Asia. You don’t even need to be a professed locavore to scratch your head about that.

Clint Lindsey of Willamette Seed & Grain explains the paradox, “There are other mills in the area who do a great job, but they import most of their crops from other regions.  Conversely, there are other farms growing staple crops for local markets, but they do not mill and distribute those crops themselves.”

Willow Coberly, owner of Stalford Seed Farms and Greenwillow Grains, hadn’t always grown food crops. Grass seed, the number one agricultural product grown in Oregon, had been the staple crop for her farm. When the downturn in the housing market that made grass less profitable coincided with a desire to restore local food system, eight years ago Stalford converted acres to wheat, both the hard red variety used for making bread and soft white used more often in the dessert spectrum – like cakes, cookies and pastries.

Teaming up other area growers Stalford Seed became a partner in Willamette Seed & Grain: They are akin to a traditional co-operative that pools resources to sell foods grown in the Willamette Valley more effectively, but they are also a partnership working to restore a local food system where over 90% of all foods consumed are imported into the state. Initial success in connecting local foods with local customers led to Willamette supplying the wheat and oats for the Oregon Grains loaf aka the100 Mile Bread from Nature Bake, whose co-joined company Dave’s Killer Bread, is familiar to market goers.

Not Quite Fully Automated

More success led to Stalford Seed investing in a milling facility in Brownsville, Oregon two years ago. Greenwillow Grains, the milling arm of Stalford, now employs three full-time and five part-time workers – jobs created in the same community where the food is grown, reinforcing the point for keeping food dollars local.

After appearing at both the Brownsville Farmers Market and Corvallis Farmers Markets last season, Greenwillow is bringing their grains and seeds to PFM this year. Again, Clint Lindsey, “[PFM] has such a large following. Being able to market our products directly to such a large customer base is a big step up for us.” Market goers can find Greenwillow’s organic wheat berries, buckwheat, flax and garbanzo beans; along with local oats – stone ground and rolled, bread and pastry flours.

If not with Roast Chicken; Then please make a salad with chard.

Saturday mornings at PSU you’ll be able to find local crops and growers who understand the firsthand importance of keeping food dollars local. Stop by the Greenwillow booth and ask about what makes their products and approach to farming different, it’s a conversation worth having.

Special thanks to Clint Lindsey for his time and insight. Additional information for this post was gathered from a blog post by Jill Rees of the USDA. You can be read her article in it’s entirety here.

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Article and photo from Miriam Garcia

                     Last week, on vacation in Mexico, I ate fresh salsa, charred corn, sliced melon and shrimp tacos.  The flavors made a sun-on-my-skin kind of feeling happen in my mouth.  There really is a kind of happy that comes only from the sun and, apparently, you can eat it.  Back in Portland, I realize that these sun-filled foods are not unlike migrating geese or humpback whales, chasing the seasons, gradually making their returns to Northern climes. They’re still far away but they’re getting closer.  In the chill of March in Portland, I hunger for warmth; for strong sun, hours and hours of it; and for the foods that only long days can coax from the earth. But all I can do is sharpen my various hungers like so many kitchen knives and wait.Snapper, cerveza & the promise of better days

            Since ancient times, Winter-into-Spring, the Lenten season, has been thought of as a period of solemnity and abstinence after the misrule of Carnival and before the rites of spring. For some, this is a spiritual experience and for others a slog.  Either way, it’s about waiting. And whetting. The Old English word ‘Lent,’ refers to the ‘lengthening’ of days and as our days stretch toward the summer, our markets will open wide to receive returning bounty.  Wandering the markets we’ll see the growing light manifesting in successive waves of fruits and vegetables.  It’s only March however, and there’s a long way to go.

So, we wait.  And whet.  We listen for geese, drive to the coast to watch for whales, and wander the markets, looking beyond spring’s tender green offerings all the way to the return of the ripe melon, the sweet corn and the glorious tomato.  Across these final few weeks of quiet chill and tentative blossoms, we may as well let the hunger intensify. The foods of the sun will find their way home to us and we will eat them.  We’ll be wearing sundresses and shorts and we’ll feel the warmth of the sun on our shoulders and in our tomatoes and the happiness of it will fill us up and feed us well.  Soon.

Miriam Garcia is a folklorist-foodie, freelance writer and guardian of a super-secret chicken soup recipe.  You can contact her at Miriam_G@me.com

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Believe the Hype

As anyone who was at the opening of the PSU Market last week can attest, it really was all that.  The season started with a bang, wowing shoppers with an awesome array of locally grown and crafted edibles.  Now that spring has officially begun, this week the market holds the promise of warmer days and the season’s first rhubarb.*

Radishes for breakfast?

Those looking to gorge themselves on fresh spring produce will not be disappointed.  There will be everything from roots to tops waiting to fill up your basket: crisp carrots and fennel, yellow and purple potatoes, tart sorrel, cabbages of many colors, mounds of every type of leafy greens under the sun, plus their respective raabs (sorry Jim, we know how you feel about this term, but it’s part of the farmers market vernacular now!), gorgeous crimson and white French Breakfast radishes, peppery arugula and pleasingly bitter chicories, leeks, broccoli, chives and more. Foraged delights include stinging nettles, hedgehog mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns and miner’s lettuce.

After you’ve filled up on fresh (sound familiar?), you might want to check out the many delicious ways our vendors have preserved the harvest: Winters Farm has berry jams, Zoe’s Favorites and Unbound Pickling have relishes and pickled things, Choi’s has kimchi and Raynblest Farm has everybody’s favorite ‘dried plums’ aka prunes, which our very own Dave Adamshick recently waxed poetic about in this Oregonian article.

Fans of Ancient Heritage Dairy will be happy to know that they have returned to the market with their fabulous sheep and cow’s milk cheeses after a hiatus spent moving to their bigger, better digs.  Round out your cheese plate with goat cheeses from Monteillet Fromagerie, blues from Rogue Creamery, a baguette from Delphina’s bakery, walnuts from Oregon Walnuts and some varietal honey from Boyco.

Even the oats are local

If you have yet to meet our new vendors, be sure to stop by the Greenwillow Grains booth for locally grown and milled flour, oats and wheat berries, then head over to Pono Farms for a gander at their well-marbled Wagyu beef and a sample of one of their many smoked sausages.  Do yourself a favor and pick up some of their heritage pork.  This week, Bob Pullen of Know Your Food cooked up a Pono Farms Red Wattle pork loin at a special dinner for staff and board members and we were blown away by how tender, juicy and deeply flavored it was.  Honestly, it was like nothing we’d ever tasted before.

Despite the fact that there was snow on the ground mere days ago, it’s not too early to think about planting your spring garden. Sun Gold Farm has plenty of herb and vegetable starts like sweet peas, lettuces, parsley, beets and turnips to get you out digging in the garden.

*That’s right, Marven at Winters Farm called to say he’s bringing 20 lbs of the season’s first ruby stalks to market this weekend.  Get there early!

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Film Festival, Beer – This Weekend

Green Living Project, in partnership with the Portland Better Living Show, is excited to bring our nationwide premiere event celebration to the city of Portland for the very first time!

Be sure to catch this special event that promises to entertain, educate and inspire! You won’t see anything like this anywhere else! We’ll showcase six of our top sustainability films from around the world, including projects based in Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua and the U.S.! You’ll have the opportunity to mix and mingle with GLP staff, educators at our “Education Exchange,” sponsors, and the community while enjoying live music and free food and drinks from our sponsors, including unlimited beer from Ninkasi!

Saturday, March 24th, 2012  6:00pm – 9:30pm (films begin at 7:30pm)

Portland Expo Center: 2060 North Marine Drive, Portland, OR 97217


Change Dinner (Los Angeles)

Creating a long-term vision for food system change starts with dinner. Join 30 Project founder Ellen Gustafson, singer/celebrity Michelle Branch and friends as they gather around the table for a meal and some serious inspiration as they collaborate to make global change.

Equilibrio Azul (Ecuador)

This favorite of the film festival circuit tells the story of a feisty organization combining wildlife research, grassroots community education, and voluntourism opportunities to protect key marine species and their habitat, while also considering the needs of local fishing communities.

Semilla Nueva (Guatemala)

Semilla Nueva is working to foster environmental and social stewardship in rural farming communities of Guatemala. This organization is empowering farmers and communities so they, in turn, can empower others.

Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago)

Whether it’s local conservation, programs in the field, or challenges between humans and urban wildlife, Lincoln Park Zoo is using its outdoor classroom and unique urban setting to educate visitors and the surrounding community.

Ecotourism New Mexico (New Mexico)

From Taos to Santa Fe to the Pueblo communities, see how strong, community-wide support has propelled New Mexico to be a pioneer and leader within the sustainable tourism sector.

Potters for Peace (Nicaragua)

Potters for Peace is a social justice organization that helps women in Nicaragua better their lives through improved techniques and marketing for their pottery business. They also address issues of access to potable water by producing ceramic water filters they then distribute around the world.

For more information visit: www.greenlivingproject.com/portland2012

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Urban Gleaners: Reducing Waste and Want

Photos and story by Emily Kanter, Development & Communications Coordinator, Urban Gleaners

Urban Gleaners volunteers pick up from five markets. Some even do it by bike!

Thousands look forward to Opening Day of the Portland Farmers Market at PSU. For Urban Gleaners, it means a new season of donations of delicious, fresh, organic produce that we deliver directly from the markets to the families in our Food to Schools Program.

It’s no secret that Oregon ranks high on the list of hungriest states in America.  Last year, the Oregon Food Bank distributed more than one million emergency food boxes. 33% of those receiving emergency food were children.  In 2010, Urban Gleaners became aware of issues of hunger in Portland’s East Multnomah County School District, where between 70-90% of children live below the poverty line and rely on free or subsidized school breakfasts and lunches for what is often their only meal of the day.  “Some of these children come from homes where there is nothing in the cupboard,” says Kate Barker, Principal of Cherry Park Elementary School.

In response to this tremendous need Urban Gleaners began our Food to Schools Program, bringing large weekly deliveries of donated food to three elementary schools in East Multnomah County.  The food is sorted onto tables or into boxes and taken home by families of students at each school.  The program has since grown to include seven schools throughout Portland Metro area and includes summertime “Free Farmers Markets.”

We receive sizeable donations of artisanal breads, dairy products and other non-perishable foods from grocery stores, restaurants and event sites, but the produce from vendors at PFM is the most essential component of the Food to Schools Program.  Fresh produce is often an expensive purchase at the grocery store and one that families living on food stamps can ill afford.  The benefits of this program are two-fold: by redistributing the surplus from five Portland Farmers Markets to our seven schools, Urban Gleaners can save farmers the time and effort of transporting their surplus back to the farm to compost, while at the same time providing hundreds of families with access to incredibly nutritious fresh foods.

Bags of gorgeous chard and lettuces at one of the partner schools.

On a particularly bountiful market day last summer, we picked up more than ten full bags of organic produce including swiss chard, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, several different kinds of lettuce and some tantalizing cartons of ripe blackberries. The tables were filled with bags of whole-grain breads, yogurts, cheeses, boxes of crackers and cookies, bananas and all of the generous donations from the farmers at PFM.  By 11:30am over 75 people had lined up—parents and grandparents with boisterous children in tow.  Within minutes, the blackberries had been snatched up—by 12pm all of the fresh produce was gone.

Many of the vegetables have inspired conversations with families in the program. “What is this frilly thing?” was a common question asked by mothers staring over bags full of escarole and, “What can I do with it?”. Urban Gleaners created recipe cards in English, Spanish and Russian with easily found ingredients highlighting many of the common vegetables gleaned from the Portland Farmers Markets.  Bursting with color and flavor there is certainly no lack of enthusiasm for this local bounty.  By providing these families with access and education we can ensure that fresh, nutritious produce can be enjoyed by all.

Urban Gleaners is a small, volunteer organization that picks up edible, surplus food from farmers markets, restaurants, grocery stores and event sites and delivers it to local agencies that feed the hungry. Hunger is less a problem of scarce resources but inefficient distribution. The concept of picking up and redistributing food is a simple yet powerful weapon in the fight against hunger. For more information and to learn how you can become a volunteer, please visit http://www.urbangleaners.org.

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Mac & Cheat

by Maya Miranda

Usually when I think of cravings, my first thought is chocolate. Perhaps this is because, through years of clever marketing, I’ve developed a knee-jerk reaction to the words “chocolate,” and “craving,” appearing in the same sentence time and time again; we have been trained as a society to identify craving to be synonymous high fructose corn syrup snacks, rather than asking ourselves what nutrient lies behind the longing and speaks to nutritional deficiencies or demands. When I am compelled to consume something specific, I try to hold that thought in my hand and peer at it closely to examine. Perhaps my banana lust is also a potassium debt, or maybe my insatiable need for strawberries is a need for vitamin C, not to mention the valuable phytochemicals within.

That being said, my most persistent and nagging crave is, unfortunately, difficult to justify this way. In all its fatty, creamy goodness, I can’t really find any nutritionally redeeming qualities in Macaroni and Cheese. Sure there’s calcium and junk, but unlike bananas or strawberries, there are other ways to get the same properties elsewhere. Yet, I can’t shake it, can’t seem to pass more than a week or so without being suddenly struck for the urge, no, the need for at least a small serving of the dish. For being such a fanatic, one might think me a connoisseur, but honestly I don’t discriminate. The forty-nine-cent generic box of pasta and powdered cheese is just as welcome as a breadcrumb studded masterpiece from a fancy French bistro. Just give it to me.

While I would love to be the kind of person who has that inhuman kind of metabolism that allows any food consumed without having to buy bigger pants, I’m not. And the older I get, the more I worry about my diet. We have such a problem in this country with heart disease, diabetes and obesity; I would be a fool not to consider how my own health ties in to the bigger picture. Even if I hate to admit it, my beloved Mac and cheese is a veritable breeding ground for all the diseases I just mentioned. Why dear god do all the things that taste so good, have to be so bad?

After much soul searching and a bout of bad-mac food poisoning, I finally sat down in my laboratory – er- kitchen, and decided to tackle the problem myself. No more butter! No more egg yolks! No more pounds of cheese going into a single dish! I was determined to find a healthy alternative, preferably one that I actually like to eat. And because I’m a glutton for sneaking veggies into everything, this dish offers in a full serving.

Miss Mayas Mac and Cheat:

1 lb. pasta – I like penne but elbow is traditional. Get the whole wheat kind for more fiber and extra flavor.

8 oz Nonfat Greek Yogurt – Must be Nonfat, must be Greek.

2 Egg Whites

¼ Cup Extra Sharp White Cheddar, grated- Raw milk, organic grass fed, if you can swing it, has a nice, more pungent flavor than some others.

¼ Cup Parmeggiano Reggiano, grated- Please don’t use the stuff from the can. Just don’t.

2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast – Yes, that weird yellow, flakey stuff you buy from the bulk bins.

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 large zucchini and 1 large yellow squash, sliced in thin coins – Organic of course.

1 tsp each sea salt, cracked pepper, paprika

(Makes 6-8 servings)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Or don’t. Honestly I never preheat my oven and things turn out fine. Make sure to prep your zucchini, squash and garlic first. Prepare pasta as usual, drain and do not cold rinse. Add warm pasta to a 9”x11” baking dish (glass works best) and mix in the Greek yogurt, egg whites, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and nutritional yeast. Once it’s evenly distributed, mix in the white cheddar, zucchini and squash. Be gentle! Top with parmesan and bake for about twenty minutes, maybe more, you will know when your kitchen fills with the smell of home and the cheese on top is just browned and bubbly. I know you want to eat it right away, but let it sit for at least ten minutes or you’re going to burn your mouth. Viola!

I know there are some extra steps involved but the result is a healthy meal that can feed a whole family, or make great lunches for the rest of the week – you can freeze it for later too. The yogurt alone carries twenty four grams of protein with no added fat and gives the creaminess of béchamel. The highly flavorful cheddar and parmesan pack a lot of cheesy flavor without needing much and the nutritional yeast has a natural cheesy flavor to it that adds another layer of taste. The egg whites help adhere the mix together without adding even more fat and cholesterol. And the veggies blend so well; you may even get them past your picky six, or sixty year old. And when the bounty of Oregon summer presides, I’m looking forward to experimenting with other additions – fresh tomato and basil, roasted parsnips and carrots, hearty spinach and kale…the options are endless and I intend to try them all.

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